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'Before The Dragon': The taming of Bruce . . .

Damn, those Asian guys are fast! You will see a lot of lighting blows and blurring of hands in this lively tale of how Bruce Lee had the fight of his life with a Shaolin master, Wong Jack Man.

Bruce was sent to America by his father as a safety precaution. He had become a renown Ku Fu guy and had caused trouble for too many bad guys. Once here, he began to teach Kung Fu and unleash his ambition towards film and television. Philip Ng played Lee as a very audacious and overbearing guy who seemed to be impatient with life. By chance, Wong Jack Man arrived in America to perform self-imposed penance for permanently injuring another master during an exhibition match in China. Wong needed to wash dishes until he once again became centered in his art and way of life.

Meanwhile, Lee thinks the great Wong has come to interfere (somehow) with his teaching of Kung Fu to occidentals which was forbidden in the "old country". One of Lee's students, McKee, meets Wong and a friendship begins to develop even though Lee insists in using McKee as an emissary.

Finally, Lee gets what he wants: Lee vs. Wong, in order to show his style of Kung Fu in America, is superior to the ways of the "ancients". Because of the subplots (McKee trying to free the indentured Xiulan Quan and the criminal activities of Chinatown locals), there is more at stake than Lee trying to vanquish Wong.

Wong agrees to fight Lee in a warehouse much to the chagrin of the local Dragon Lady who has booked about $15M in worldwide bets. There are only 12 witnesses and Wong and Lee have at in a beautifully choreographed way. It wasn't as fanciful as "Crouching Tiger" but close.

The outcome of the fight is up to your eyes. The real outcome is that Lee realizes it's not all about him (cliche?) and he seems to perceptibly change. McKee gets his girl and Wong returns to China indicating he will be back.

This film is not about fine dramatic horsepower being used, but it is a straightforward story of the young Bruce Lee trying to advance his ego over everything. The story is simple as is the dialog. The cast is unrecognizable but that actually works to the film's advantage. Between the ambitions of Lee and the reserved nature of Wong, we have a historically interesting and somewhat compelling film. Bruce Lee fans will definitely want to see this slice of history but I'm not so sure about younger generations. I see this as a prime DVD movie but a walk-in for those who liked Lee. (One thing, I was never a follower so I was surprised to see how aggressive and prideful he really was--if we are to believe the story.)

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Edits: 08/25/17

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Topic - 'Before The Dragon': The taming of Bruce . . . - Billy Wonka 16:17:39 08/25/17 (0)


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