"Way of the Dragon" appears to many as an amateurish and sometimes weirdly silly movie. The truth is that Bruce Lee only intended this film to be shown in the Asian market, and it was tailored as such. Strip down the excess of strange characters and bizarre humour, and you have Bruce: mesmerising, fast, witty, and one of the rare examples of true screen magnetism.
Bruce plays Tang Lung, essentially a bit of a country bumpkin, sent from Hong Kong by his family to help out a relative in Rome whose restaurant is being targeted by a crime mob. He's not well received at first. The restaurant staff expected his uncle, and not this hick. Of course, we know that he's Bruce Lee, and the plot holds out for long enough so that when Bruce does explode into attack, it's hard not to stifle a cheer.
Every camp hoodlum that this mob throws at Lee is swiftly destroyed, and, thanks to the new DVD release, UK fans will finally be able to enjoy previously censored footage of Bruce taking on a gang with deadly nunchakus. With the local toughs scared off, the mob fly in a karate champion from the US called Colt. He, of course, is Chuck Norris (by then seven times US and World Karate Champion), and he takes on Bruce in the climactic fight at a coliseum.
Regarded by many as the finest martial arts combat ever committed to celluloid, it's a masterful display of two fighters at the height of their powers. If any of it looks familiar, then bear in mind that this is the inspiration for a legion of martial arts and action movies that followed.