The Digital Dragon

By John Kreng

Bruce Lee on DVD

To celebrate the year of the Metal Dragon, we've decided to take a conclusive look at the film work of and about Bruce Lee which has been updated on DVD. Not only does Bruce Lee remain our favorite "Little Dragon," but this year also marks his 60th birthday, an auspicious one in Chinese chronology.
What DVD offers to the Bruce Lee fan is multifold. First, new, often pristine prints. Better sound. New footage. New features. And perhaps most insightful, commentary from the filmmakers he worked with and others close to him. If you've never collected any Bruce Lee movies before, this is a great place to start. And if you are a Bruce buff, now is the time to update your collection. Here then, is a guide to what's out there. Some DVDs may require a bit of searching, but if you're having trouble, check out the websites we've listed, or drop us a line and we will try to help you out.


The Digital Versatile Disc, or Digital Video Disc (DVD), format was first introduced to the public in 1996. Fairly new to the consumer market the DVD players and discs are considerably cheaper and have an overall better picture and sound quality (depending on the quality of the film used in the transfer) compared to the laserdisc format. Many discs have multi-layered audio tracks so you can hear the film in different languages or even a director's commentary while the film plays. One of the coolest features DVD has to offer is with multiple camera angles, where you can view a certain scene from different angles. This feature is currently used in "adult" DVDs. It will be only a matter of time before an instructional martial arts video will come out on DVD using the multi angle format. This is also a great medium for those who want to know and learn more about the art of filmmaking without going into serious debt. However the only thing you cannot currently do (yet) with a DVD player is record other programs.
DVD players start from about $200 for a basic "no frills" home model to around $3000 for a professional studio model. But prices of DVD players are dropping quickly as the technology becomes easier and cheaper to mass produce. Currently the "reference model" which DVD manufacturers are comparing high quality standards to are Sony's DVP-S7000 and DVP-S7700. These two top of the line home viewers are also the ones most home entertainment magazines rave about and use for home audio and video


For martial arts film fan there are many films available on DVD with many more on the way as the medium quickly gets more devoted followers. With
DVD you can carefully study the techniques of your favorite martial arts star with crystal clear slow motion or frame by frame advance that you could never get on your laserdisc or VHS player.
Before DVD, a lot of martial arts/action films imported from Hong Kong were difficult to find. They were available either on laserdisc (extremely pricey and/or out of print due to their limited pressing) or videotape. Many times these transfers are only available in a pan and scan format in which the video (NTSC) transfer of a motion picture is reformatted to fit the aspect ratio of the television screen. In some cases this retransfer
can substantially eliminate vital information from the original film. An example of a movie that was impossible to find was Bruce Lee's original version of WAY OF THE DRAGON (known here as RETRUN OF THE DRAGON). This version is currently available on DVD (import only) and is letterboxed with the original Chinese dialogue with remastered English subtitles. It also contains 2 comical scenes that were cut from the American release. But not all DVDs are created equal. And that is dependent upon what the producers of the disc decide to use as the source material to make the transfer.
Other encoding and research and development concerns can also affect the final presentation of a DVD.
The good news is that most DVDs imported from Hong Kong are not region coded, which is a "block" on the disc that prevents your player from reading the information so the movie will play correctly. One of the reasons region coding was created is so that films distributors can protect their international income while at the same time releasing a DVD version in another country. In order to get many of these imported titles you might need to go further than your local video dealer because of the exclusivity rights that have been established with the major U.S. studios.


One of the things that certain DVD players can do is play Video Compact Discs (VCD). This is a cheap and inexpensive way to expand your Hong Kong
movie collection. VCDs are cheaper than DVDs and can be played on PCs that have MPEG capabilities. You do not need a DVD-ROM or a player to play VCDs. However the picture quality is inferior to DVD and you will notice a certain amount of artifacting especially in fast moving action scenes. However a high end DVD player that plays VCDs can take care of much of the artifacting. The other drawback to VCD is that the movies are split into 2 discs. VCDs are relatively cheap ranging from $10-20 per movie.
VCDs were very popular in Hong Kong. After the 1997 Mainland China takeover of Hong Kong, the film industry took a major nosedive, dropping its production output by 85%. Many Hong Kong film industry insiders say that the VCD (along with the recession that is currently plaguing most of Asia) is one of the major contributors to the current downfall of Hong Kong cinema because VCDs would sometimes be released within a month after an initial theatrical release. If you want to play VCDs on your DVD player shop carefully because some players cannot play VCDs and the picture quality varies with each player. Remember Grasshopper, it pays to shop wisely.

Bruce Lee on DVD

Here is an updated survey of the Bruce Lee DVDs now available.


Contains 5 DVDs of the American versions of FISTS OF FURY, CHINESE CONNECTION, RETURN OF THE DRAGON, GAME OF DEATH and the documentary BRUCE LEE: THE LEGEND.
Widescreen except for BRUCE LEE: THE LEGEND which is full frame
Region 1 coded
Mono sound
Distributed by Fox Home Video
English language with removable English subtitles

The fold out special box that all 5 DVDs come in is just beautiful. However I was disappointed that the DVDs did not have one single extra feature on any of the discs. The U.S. theatrical trailers that were included in Fox's laserdiscs are not even included here. The overall picture transfer is close to excellent whereas in some of the imported DVD's there are some visible scratches and lines that run through the print every now and then.


Starring Bruce Lee, Maria Yi, James Tien
Directed by Lo Wei
Imported by Universe Laser & Video Co., Ltd. (Hong Kong)
Letterboxed, Cantonese and Mandarin dialogue, with 9 removable subtitles including English and Japanese.
In Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound
No region coding
Bonus Features- English and Chinese biography of Bruce Lee, Lo Wei, and Maria Yi, Chinese trailers of BIG BOSS, WAY OF THE DRAGON, ENTER THE DRAGON, and GAME OF DEATH

Cheng Chao-An (Lee) is brought to a small town in Thailand to start a new life living with his cousins while working alongside them at the local ice factory. Cheng promised his mother that he will not get into trouble Two of the cousins accidentally find out the company is smuggling drugs in the ice and are killed.

This was Bruce's first film and what catapulted him into superstardom by breaking all known box office records across Asia. The only difference between the Chinese and American version is the music used throughout the film. However the American version has a much cleaner in picture.


* Deluxe Collector's Edition DVD Produced by Media Asia, Hong Kong
* Starring Bruce Lee, Nora Miao Ker Hsiu, Maria Yi,
* Written and Directed by Lo Wei
* In color, widescreen, dual layered, MPEG 2
* With separate dialogue tracks in Cantonese, Mandarin, and English. 8 sets of remastered subtitles in Chinese (both simple and traditional), English, Japanese, Bahasa Malaysian, Thai, Vietnamese, and Spanish.
* Bonus features: Running audio commentary on two separate tracks by writer Bey Logan and action star Donnie Yen. Biographical information about Bruce Lee, the film, and history of the Ching Wu Boxing academy. Chinese theatrical trailers of all 5 of Bruce's films. Exclusive unseen footage from GAME OF DEATH
* Running time: 102 minutes
* Presented in Dolby Digital Surround 5.1 sound

Known as THE CHINESE CONNECTION in the U.S., this limited edition boxed set is the first "collector's item" for lovers of Hong Kong martial arts films and is definitely one of the main reasons to get yourself a DVD player.

The film (based on a true story) is set during Japanese occupied Shanghai in the 1930's. Chen Jun (Bruce Lee) returns to his school to discover that his kung fu master, Fok Yun Kap, has died under mysterious circumstances. Fok's funeral is disrupted by representatives from a rival Japanese martial arts school, who deliver an insulting signboard that reads "Sick Men Of Asia." Infuriated by this insult, Chen returns the sign to the Japanese, and proceeds to beat the entire karate school into submission. He then
learns the Japanese were the culprits who murdered his Sifu and sets out on a bloody trail of vengeance. In the end, Chen must pay the ultimate price for his patriotism, and dies a true hero. The film is a classic and stands out as one of Bruce's best performances.

This is a hard (but not impossible) disc to get even if you have access to a Chinese store that carries imported Chinese DVD's. But let me tell you that it will be well worth the time to hunt this disc down. This is the first Chinese DVD to have special features. The film is presented in excellent condition considering that the film is over 25 years old. This special edition has two different and separate audio commentary by "Hong Kong Action Cinema" author Bey Logan (in English) and Hong Kong martial arts star Donnie Yen (in Cantonese) throughout the film. Logan's wall to wall commentary is extremely insightful (even for the Bruce Lee "know it all") especially on the production and often times hilarious with his witty dry comments. Donnie Yen's Cantonese commentary is a more technical and very informative about the fight choreography. The biographical text
section has basic information on Bruce Lee, Jeet Kune Do, films on the Ching Mo School, and the different martial art actors who portrayed Chen Jun throughout the years.

The menu section is also a delight to go roam around with animated menus which help you go to the scene of your choice. The missing GAME OF DEATH scenes are teasers of what I hope Media Asia will release soon in its entirety. Personally, for me, the scenes were too short (with a total running time of a little over 3 minutes of Bruce fighting Inosanto, Chi Han Tsoi, and Kareem) and left me wanting more...but hey I'm an
obsessive/compulsive guy when it comes to Bruce Lee stuff! However, it was still great to see Bruce fighting in scenes I've never seen before. Each scene has an opening clip much like something you'd see while playing the video game TEKKEN 3, where a picture of Bruce and his opponent appear on the screen and a ring announcer's voice bellows, "Round 1! Round 2! Round 3!" There's also a section where you can view the Chinese trailers to all 5 of Bruce's films.

The limited edition disc box set is beautifully packaged in a brushed gray box with silver metallic Chinese letters "Ching Wu Mun" (the actual Chinese title of the film). It also comes with 4 cool looking Bruce Lee coasters.
Although overall the disc pales in comparison to some of the other extra features laden DVDs here in the U.S. by the bigger studios (like TOMORROW NEVER DIES- Special Edition and LETHAL WEAPON 4), the disc still holds its own and is a lot of fun to surf around. The 2 domestic versions on DVD available in the U.S. (made by Goodtimes and DML) are extremely inferior in all areas in comparison to Media Asia's (the version released by Goodtimes, while being letterboxed has a GT logo burned into the images lower right hand corner). We can only hope and pray Media Asia (who owns Golden
Harvest's old film library) will make more DVDs like this. This disc is a class act presentation throughout, and I highly recommend you add it to your collection. Are you drooling yet? Good hunting! Media Asia has a web site at

WAY OF THE DRAGON (Imported) aka in the U.S. as RETURN OF THE DRAGON

Starring Bruce Lee, Nora Miao Ker Hsiu, and Chuck Norris
Written and Directed by Bruce Lee
Imported by Universe Laser & Video Co., Ltd. (Hong Kong)
Letterboxed, Cantonese and Mandarin dialogue, with 8 removable subtitles including English and Japanese.
In Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound
No region coding
Bonus Features- English and Chinese biography of Bruce Lee and Nora Miao, Chinese trailers of BIG BOSS, FISTS OF FURY, WAY OF THE DRAGON, ENTER THE DRAGON, and GAME OF DEATH

This is first film that Bruce Lee wrote, directed, choreographed, and starred in, and the only complete film that he directed. The story is light and simple. Tang Lung (Lee), a country bumpkin from Hong Kong, flies over to Rome, Italy to help out at Chen's (Nora Miao) restaurant. The restaurant is being harassed by local thugs causing them to lose money and might have to go out of business. Lung easily disposes of the thugs while converting the restaurant workers who are training in karate over to Chinese boxing. The local crime boss (Jon T. Benn) cannot believe that all his men cannot handle a single man and hires international champion martial artists Robert (Bob Wall), a Japanese fighter (Hwang In Sik), and finally the deadly Colt (Chuck Norris in his pre-electrolysis days) to dispose of Tang Lung. The final duel with Lee and Norris at the Roman Coliseum is a classic and still great to watch.

For those of you who have not seen the original Chinese version of the film you are in for a treat. The difference between WAY and RETURN are small but do make a big difference in viewing the film. The original version of WAY shows Bruce's character more as a fish out of water and makes his triumph over the bad guys that much greater. This is completely lost with the domestic version because everyone speaks English; viewing the original version makes the dubbed English version not make any real sense.

The simple fact that Tang Lung does not understand or speak English makes the original version much stronger in his character development and makes more sense in certain key scenes. This makes its point on these scenes:
1. In the first scene Bruce tells his Chinese friend to tell the bad guys, "This is Chinese Boxing!" which loses its dramatic effect when everyone in the film speaks English. Because if Lung did speak English why would he tells his friend to tell the bad guys what he just said in English?
2. Lung tries to use the phone and cannot read the business card to tell the operator he needs help.
3. The 2 times Lung harasses the Boss using only body language because he does not speak English.
4. The function of Ho (Wei Ping Ao), the effeminate Chinese translator for the Boss does not serve a purpose in the English version because everyone in the film speaks English.

For Bruce Lee fanatics or film purists the imported version is a must because it has missing scenes that are not shown in the U.S. dubbed domestic release. With the addition of these scenes, the film takes on a lighter and more comedic air, which at the time was a departure for Bruce because his character had flaws and was more vulnerable and human than in any of his films. The deleted scenes are as follows...
1. In the opening scene at the airport where Lung waits for Chen (Nora Mao), he gets uncomfortably hungry and can't keep his stomach from growling. Not knowing English Lung walks up to a kid and tries to sign that he is hungry by opening his mouth wide and putting his finger in his mouth. Scaring the kid to death, the child runs away and cries for his mommy. For greater effect, this is shot from the kid's point of view, looking up at Bruce.
2. Right after that scene, Bruce goes into the airport restaurant. He cannot read the menu and asks for eggs in Chinese. The gruff old waitress does not understand him so he points to a few things on the menu. The waitress comes back to a tray full of different soups. Lung is so hungry he almost inhales the whole tray.
3. After going to the bank to exchange money, Chen tells Lung to relax, be friendly, and do whatever the locals do to you. Then a woman (Mali Shaw) sits down across from Lung, smiles and winks at him. Lung responds back the same way. In the deleted scene, the woman takes him by the hand and escorts him to a hotel room. She tells him to wait there while she slips into the bathroom. Bored, Lung finds a full-length mirror and starts to shadow box. From the mirror, Lung is shocked as he notices the woman emerging out of the bathroom naked and runs away.
4. The first time the thugs appear in the restaurant, Lung is nowhere to be seen. This is because Lung went to the bathroom and does not know how to use the western toilet and leaps on the toilet seat to squat on it. A customer walks in behind him and is shocked. Lung simply shuts the door for privacy.

Things to notice in this DVD:
1. If you listen carefully, Bruce performs the a few lines of dialogue of the Boss, the black thug, and another thug who threatens the customers of the restaurant. Listen carefully and you will hear him saying..."You don't know what Chinese spare ribs are?"
2. The threatening letter they get from the big boss is written in Bruce's handwriting.
3. Whang In Sik, the Japanese stylist is a 7th degree black belt in Hapkido and later starred as the main bad guy in Jackie Chan's THE YOUNG MASTER and DRAGON LORD.

The transfer on this Universe DVD is good but not pristine. There are some minor frames throughout the film scenes that need to be color corrected and better focused. There are also a few moments that are soft and need to be corrected. However this is a much better improvement on the imported STAR H.K. laserdisc.


* Special Edition DVD Released by Warner Home Video (Domestic U.S. release)
* Starring Bruce Lee, John Saxon, and Jim Kelly
* Directed by Robert Clouse
* Letterboxed
* English with subtitles in English, French, and Spanish
* Special Features: Audio commentary by Paul Heller and Michael Allin, 1973 behind the scenes documentary, interview with Linda Lee, trailers and TV spots, John Little documentary - BRUCE LEE: IN HIS OWN WORDS, clips backyard workout sessions on video.
* Dolby digital sound
* Running time: 102 min.

Bruce Lee plays Lee, a Shaolin monk, who is asked by an Intelligence Agency to be an agent to gather evidence against Han (Shih Kien), a renegade ex-Shaolin monk who is holding a tournament on his island. After accepting, Lee meets up with participating contestants Roper (John Saxon), Williams (Jim Kelly), and Parsons (Peter Archer). On the island Lee is caught and must fight to stay alive and eventually face Han.

This was Bruce Lee's last completed film before his untimely death in 1973. The film presented on this DVD is in almost pristine condition. The disc contains the 2 missing scenes where Bruce explains to his elder (Roy Chaio) what he learned from the opening fight scene with Sammo Hung and his revelation in the hall of mirrors. The interactive menu is simple in design with no animations. Paul Heller's and Michael Allin's commentary track is sparse but at often times very informative when they do speak, especially about behind the scenes of the production. The biographical text section contains basic information on Bruce Lee and the production, however there is not much new information for the Bruce fanatic. There are also 4 theatrical trailers and 7 TV spots that have been rarely seen since the films initial release. The "must sees" are the rare video clips of Bruce working out in his backyard and the in depth interview with Bruce's
widow, Linda Lee. The workout footage runs just under 2 minutes. The highlight is where Bruce "goes to town" punching the hell out of a heavy bag. Linda Lee's interview offers some insight into Bruce's dreams and goals. She also talks about how they met and how he affected Shannon and Brandon even after he passed away. There is also a "making of" featurette and a documentary by John Little which was also included on the 25th anniversary videotape. This is also the cleanest version that you will get of the film. There is a little of something for everybody in this disc.

The difference between the Chinese version and the 25th anniversary U.S. version are only cosmetic. In the Chinese version there are more dubbed "aiya's" on it. The title sequence is also different.

GAME OF DEATH (1979 Golden Harvest)

Starring Bruce Lee, Gig Young, Dean Jagger, Colleen Camp, Hugh O'Brian
Directed by Robert Clouse
Imported by Universe Laser & Video Co., Ltd. (Hong Kong)
In Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound
Widescreen, Cantonese and Mandarin dialogue with removable subtitles in 9
languages including English
Special Features include Chinese theatrical trailers of GAME OF DEATH, ENTER THE DRAGON, BIG BOSS, WAY OF THE DRAGON, and LEGACY OF RAGE. Chinese and English bios on Bruce Lee and Robert Clouse.

Billy Lo (Bruce Lee and stunt doubles) is a young kung fu movie star with a flourishing career and promising future. The leader of a syndicate known for its exploitation of entertainers, Dr. Land (Dean Jagger), jumps at the chance to capitalize on Billy and his singer-girlfriend Ann (Colleen Camp). Refusing to cooperate, Billy is brutally harassed by Land and his men in an attempt to get him to change his mind. Faking his own death, Billy eventually fights back.

Bruce died while filming GAME OF DEATH in 1973. It was later completed 6 years later by Director Robert Clouse who directed Bruce in ENTER THE DRAGON. The use of stunt doubles and footage from Bruce's previous films helped piece this film together. However the story here is not what Bruce had envisioned. Scenes where other actors were in the background during the final fight scenes with Dan Inosanto, Chi Han Tsai, and Kareem Abdul Jabbar had to be deleted because it ruined the continuity of the film. Probably the tackiest scene in film history occurs near the beginning when Hugh O'Brian threatens Billy in his dressing room and taps his bladed stick over the Bruce clone's body with a badly superimposed picture of Bruce's face on him!

The Chinese version has Bruce's original yells dubbed in, but is missing the fight scene with Chi Han Tsai (which is in the American version). Added is a nicely choreographed fight scene with a "Bruce clone" and Casanova Wong (not in the American version of GAME OF DEATH but in the American version of TOWER OF DEATH, currently out of print). The opening and closing title sequences are different. There is an added scene in the end where medics escort the "Bruce clone" into a waiting ambulance.

BRUCE LEE -- THE MAN & THE LEGEND (1973 Golden Harvest)

Running time: 85 minutes, in color with B&W footage
Imported by Universe Laser & Video Co., Ltd. (Hong Kong)
Subtitles in English and traditional & simplified Chinese
Audio in English and Cantonese
No region coding
Mono sound
Extra features include Chinese theatrical trailers of BRUCE LEE: THE MAN & THE LEGEND, BRUCE LEE: THE LEGEND, GAME OF DEATH, THE BIG BOSS, and ENTER THE DRAGON, Chinese and English biographies of Bruce, Brandon & Shannon Lee.
No region coding

This documentary came out almost immediately after Bruce's death and has not been released in theaters since its initial release in 1973. The film has extensive coverage of the funeral ceremonies in Hong Kong and Seattle, which gives you a feel of what it was like at that time. You also get a tour of Bruce's Hong Kong estate (which might seem small here but big for Hong Kong), and gym. The documentary jumps around to his childhood showing rare family photos and footage from MY SON AH-CHANG when Bruce was only 6 years old. There are also brief interviews with Masters Shui and Wong Shun Leung who recount Bruce's earlier days of training. Then the film shows action clips from all of Bruce's films including some unused footage from GAME OF DEATH. One of the most interesting things in this film is the audiotape of Bruce dictating to his tape recorder in Chinese an idea for a film that he wished to make. This is accompanied with some quick rough sketches of his own drawings for the film. Although this is not a complete or thorough documentary, it's still worth taking a look because of the rare and interesting footage shown here. One of those scenes is Master Wong Shun Leung messing around with a person who imitates Lee on the set of ENTER, as they play around with some fight choreography; then Bruce comes out from behind the camera and "decks" them both with punches. This documentary is only available as an import and is also available in videotape through Media Asia's website at

BRUCE LEE - THE LEGEND (1985 Golden Harvest)

Running time: 89 minutes
Imported by Universe Laser & Video Co., Ltd. (Hong Kong)
In Chinese or English with removable subtitles in traditional and simplified Chinese and English
Full framed
Mono sound
In color and b&w

A well put together documentary on the life of Bruce Lee from his birth to his last days focusing mainly on his film career. If you don't know much about Bruce this is a good start. The only thing it really does not go much in depth about is his art of Jeet Kune Do. One highlight is the behind the scenes footage and outtakes from GAME OF DEATH. For the completist, there are different language versions of this documentary using different previously unseen footage from GAME OF DEATH. The Chinese version is the same print as the American version and are both full framed.

TOWER OF DEATH (1981 Golden Harvest)

Starring Bruce Lee, Tang Lung (aka Kim Tai Chung), Hwang Jang Lee
Directed by Ng See Yuen
Fight Choreographer -- Yuen Woo Ping
Imported by Universe Laser & Video Co., Ltd. (Hong Kong)
In Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound
Running time: 86 minutes
No region coding
Presented in widescreen with Cantonese or Mandarin dialogue with removable subtitles in 9 different languages including English.
Extras features include Chinese theatrical trailers of TOWER OF DEATH, THE BIG BOSS, GAME OF DEATH, WAY OF THE DRAGON, ENTER THE DRAGON, and LEGACY OF RAGE, Chinese and English biographies of Bruce Lee, Tang Lung, and Ng See Yuen.

Chen Chiang (Bruce Lee and doubles) goes to Japan for the funeral of a friend when right before the burial a helicopter flies by and steals the casket. Chen tries to save the casket but ends up falling to his death. Chiang's younger brother Kuo (Tang Lung) is told of his brother's death and goes to Japan and avenge it.

This is your typical standard hokey story used as a vehicle to have a ton of fights that came out from Hong Kong at that time. Although I do not really consider this a Bruce Lee film there are previously unseen scenes and alternate takes of the Little Dragon that were cut from ENTER THE DRAGON, however none of them are fight scenes. If you're expecting to see a lot of Bruce you will be disappointed. But if you're a "Bruce Lee completist" where you've got to see everything, then check it out.

However, what you do get are a lot of extremely well choreographed fight scenes as always from Yuen Woo Ping (THE MATRIX). The fight scenes are the traditional classic Kung Fu type of fight scenes in the early to mid-80's -- long flowing fight sequences and not a lot of quick cuts. The only criticism is that the Bruce Lee double was more kick oriented (pretty spectacular) and had only a few hand sequences. However Tang Lung is better rounded mixing it up more between hand and foot techniques.

There are a few scenes in this film that make this production a little on the cheesy side and which really make you laugh. One is when a tiger attacks Kuo in his room, and you notice that it is a costume with a stuntman inside. Another is the scene where they use the deleted scene in ENTER where Roy Chiao and Bruce Lee are talking in the garden. What they did was splice in some re-shot scenes with Roy Chiao talking to "Bruce" (all you see is a shoulder) from another angle. If you look closely you'll see Chiao's robe change colors from yellow to orange each time the angle changes. The other is the interior set costumes used for the final fight scene which reminds me of a 60's Japanese sci-fi flick. If I had to choose a film that was a "guilty pleasure" this would probably be on my list.

DRAGON: THE BRUCE LEE STORY/ Collector's Edition (1993 Universal Studios)

Starring Jason Scott Lee and Lauren Holly
Directed by Rob Cohen
Released by Universal Home Entertainment
In Dolby Digital surround sound
Running time: 2 hours
Region 1 coded
Languages: English and French
Subtitles in English and French
Extras include commentary by Rob Cohen, special intro by Linda Lee Cadwell, storyboards from 5 sequences in the film, featurette, featurette outtakes, production photographs, promotional materials, Bruce Lee photographs, production notes, cast & filmmaker's bios, 2 theatrical trailers, and an informational booklet.

A compelling, romanticized, mythologized, and at times fictionalized telling of Bruce Lee's life, which focuses on the romance between him and his wife Linda and the racism he had to deal with from both Caucasians and his own people's race while trying to make it in Hollywood. Being a screenwriter myself I can see why it was told this way, mainly because it is impossible to squeeze 32 years of his life into a 2-hour film. But also being a Bruce Lee fan it was sometimes hard to swallow some of the fictionalized incidents. This film was not made for the hardcore martial artist but for the general movie going public (as explained in Cohen's commentary). What DRAGON did do was bring back into the limelight the essence of what Bruce Lee was about while opening it up to a new generation of fans that probably weren't born when he was alive.

The only minor "glitch" I found in this DVD is when you want to change the audio (example -- changing from Cohen's commentary to film dialogue) you've got to get out of the movie and to the menu section, make the change, then go back to the film. In other DVDs you can change it while the film is still running.

The extras in this DVD are the same as what was offered a few years back as a deluxe edition laserdisc. There are a lot of extras here that make this DVD a must have. The commentary by director Rob Cohen is wall to wall/ scene by scene and pretty thorough. Cohen also discusses why he made certain choices in the story along with how certain scenes were set up, and the obstacles he went through to make the film. Also included is a touching and sentimental forward by Linda Lee Cadwell before the film begins and includes rare photos of Bruce probably never before seen. There are many extras in this film to keep you busy on this DVD.
This film is very enjoyable and makes a good date film. Who knows, it might get your date or spouse involved in the martial arts if they're not already. If so - bonus, now you know what DVDs to get them.
John Kreng is a martial artist and writer based in Burbank, California. He has also designed and produced interactive media.
Special thanks goes to the guys at for supplying the imported DVD's for review. Also, to Ron Strong of Areles' Delphian Dungeon for supplying additional information. John Kreng can be reached at

Patrick: This is for a sidebar or box part of cover story. MB

Media Asia's Bey Logan Talks About FISTS OF FURY and GAME OF DEATH
By John Kreng

I was fortunate enough to talk to Bey Logan who authored the book Hong Kong Action Cinema and is the publisher of the British Action magazine Impact. Logan and has worked on both JACKIE CHAN: MY STORY and JACKIE
CHAN: MY STUNTS and provided the commentary for the FISTS OF FURY DVD.

JOHN: Tell us what you went through to make the FIST OF FURY SPECIAL EDITION DVD?

BEY: Well I'll give you a quick background on it. At one stage there was some discussion that Media Asia through Mega Star was going to release all of Bruce Lee's movies. Then a deal was done by the previous distribution administration. This was before anyone knew what DVD was going to be worth. The company (that was releasing the Bruce Lee films) was not really interested in doing anything special with their releases. But if you look most of if not all the other Hong Kong DVD releases they basically put the film on it and add some trailers and that's it. No one has ever done
anything special with a film before. And for various reasons FISTS OF FURY wasn't part of that deal so we still retained the rights. I campaigned it here telling everyone here that people want something different because this film has been around for so long. And even in America, Goodtimes has an illegal version of the film on DVD. So we decided to make it different and set it apart from all the others. So what we did was do an audio commentary throughout the film which has never been done before in Hong Kong. I did the English commentary. And since it was a local release we needed a Cantonese track so I got Donnie Yen to do it. We put on all his trailers and we re-edited some of the unseen GAME OF DEATH footage. We wanted to make it something different and special, something akin to what Warner Brothers did with ENTER THE DRAGON.

JOHN: What about the production notes? How did you get the research for that?

BEY: It was done from the research I have done in the past. I have been researching and collecting things on Bruce Lee for my magazine articles and the book I wrote over the years. One good thing about living and working in the film industry here in Hong Kong is that if I need to find out information about FISTS OF FURY, even now I can pick up the phone and talk to people who actually worked on the film. That helps a lot. People in the West who have written books maybe never even came to Hong Kong, or don't
speak Cantonese even to the level I do, and maybe don't have access people who can translate as I have to for people who don't speak English. With that in mind I can get first hand information. Many people have asked me why didn't we get someone who physically worked on the film to do the narration. You have to understand the Hong Kong Chinese mentality. People openly would not do that because they would feel that it would be perceived that they were riding on the bandwagon of Bruce Lee or a film that was made 27 years ago. The perfect person that would have been good was Robert Baker, but he sadly passed away. The other thing was we were under a limited budget because no one thought this would really work. So I decided to do it for free and read out what I know. I got my brother in arms Donnie Yen, who played Chen Jun on TV here and is a big Bruce Lee fan, who was an obvious choice to do the Cantonese commentary. The other aspect that was really exciting was going back to our GAME OF DEATH footage and editing it together. And this has never been done in 26 years.

JOHN: Are you ever going to release the unseen footage of GAME OF DEATH?

BEY: That's the zillion dollar question (laughs)! Actually we're talking about it again now. There's a feeling (and I feel it's justified) among some of my senior colleagues here that there's been too many Bruce Lee documentaries already and GAME OF DEATH (the 1978 Golden Harvest version) as a vehicle has already been widely distributed. In terms of how much money you would spend to do it right and in terms so of how we could get the distributors (where we make our money) to pay big bucks for this property...apart from Japan it's kind of a hard sell. It's difficult to see how you can make a 60 minute feature out of 25 minutes of edited material and maybe another 20 minutes of outtakes of the same material.
I'm not letting out any secrets. There are not any lengthy outtake sequences of Bruce Lee choreographing, demonstrating, or teaching. I wish there were. But film was still expensive then. You've got little snips in-between the action, some of what we've used in BRUCE LEE THE LEGEND. But I would really like to do something with it. We're talking about doing a 70mm documentary, which would incorporate some of the that's in the cards. I think DVD would be perfect for it. Had we retained the rights to GAME OF DEATH it would have been relatively easy. All we would say is fine we're doing our GAME OF DEATH DVD, which would be available worldwide with the extra footage. But after Universe took the rights we approached them and asked if they would like to collaborate and they were not interested. They figured out (probably
rightfully) that they would make exactly the same money if they'd release it as is. But having said that when FISTS OF FURY shipped out it was our biggest ship out ever in Hong Kong, and it was matched only by JACKIE CHAN: MY STUNTS, which was nice because I actually worked on both of them. And they are both doing well here in Hong Kong.

Click here for Feature Articles from this issue and others published in 2000 .

Written by John Kreng for KUNGFUMAGAZINE.COM

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