Film / Way of the Dragon
aka: Return Of The Dragon

Way of the Dragon (traditional Chinese: 猛龍過江; literally, "The Fierce Dragon Crosses the River"; also known as Return of the Dragon in the United States) is the third film to feature Bruce Lee.

Tang Lung (Lee) is sent from Hong Kong to Rome to help his friend's niece Chen Ching Hua. She and family friends operate a Chinese restaurant which the local mafia wants to own. In order to force them to sell, the mafia has been trying to bankrupt them by having mooks frighten away any prospective customers. They then scarper before the police arrive. Lung is a Fish out of Water; speaking no English or Italian. This leads to some humorous moments prior to him engaging the mob; such as ordering five bowls of soup at an airport cafe and mistaking a prostitute's advances for mere friendly gestures (this is probably the most humorous of Bruce Lee's films, possessing an almost Jackie Chan-like feel during its first quarter or so). Chen, initially, is irritated by his cultural incompetence and doesn't trust him, though later she does. Anyways... after Lung and the restaurant staff beat up the first batch of mooks, the mob boss pays a visit with a bigger batch of mooks. When Lung beats up these as well, the mob boss calls in some of the top fighters in the world. This leads to what some consider one of the greatest moments of martial arts cinema, as Bruce Lee dukes it out with Chuck Norris at the Colosseum.

This film provides examples of:

  • All There in the Manual: The american champions, played by Chuck Norris, is named Colt in the credits.
  • Battle Strip: Tang Lung and Colt prepare for their big fight by taking off their shirts.
  • Big Bad: The Boss, leader of The Mafia group harassing the restaurant.
  • Camp Gay: The Mafia boss' Asian flunky that is really effeminate.
  • Cute Kitten: Numerous cute little kittens lurk about in the background during the Lee/Norris fight scene for no discernible reason (aside from Rome having a fairly large stray population).
  • Dark is Not Evil / Light is Not Good: In the climactic fight scene, Tang Lung wears black clothes while Colt is clad in white.
  • Dinner Order Flub: Bruce Lee's character goes into a restaurant in Italy and accidentally orders every soup on the menu (which later makes him have to pee a lot).
  • Don't Make Me Destroy You: Tang Lung radiates this vibe at Colt during the final moments of thier fight. Chuck doesn't listen.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Uncle Wang that betrays and kills two of the staff, as he wants to sell the restaurant to the mafia boss and return to Hong Kong.
  • Finger Wag:
    • Lung does it to some gangsters and follows it up with a very intimidating clinched fist, complete with cracking knuckles.
    • In the final fight, Colt gives one to Tang Lung, after knocking Lung down for pulling on his chest hairs.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: Yep, in a Kung Fu movie. Used to show the uselessness of karate—the local thugs are able to knock the crap out of the karate-trained restaurant staff. Then Bruce Lee subverts it by annihilating the thugs.
    • It's more that the staff is too stiff and poorly-trained. When Tang Lung uses the traditional kung fu he'd been using to slap the thugs around against Colt (Chuck Norris), he takes a whalloping, until he starts Jeet Kune Do-ing things up and gains the advantage.
    • The "karate is useless" idea is actually shot down in the movie by Bruce himself- one of the staff who has seen him in action wants Bruce to teach the rest Kung Fu and tells him he was never happy that they had been forced to learn a Japanese art (insofar as, karate was the only art available to them to learn before he showed up). Bruce tells him that whether the art is Karate or Kung Fu, Japanese or Chinese, is far less important than the skill and hard work of the individual.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: After seeing Tang using his footwork to turn the tables in the fight, Colt attempts to employ that same footwork. Not only does his kicking power severely drop but within seconds, Tang easily counters it with a jab followed by several more blows to the face.
  • I Am Not Leonard Nimoy: As shown on this very page, people are often unaware that Tang and Colt are the names of Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris' characters, focusing far more on the martial arts legends and their battle at the end.
  • Let's Fight Like Gentlemen: Tang Lung and Colt take a few moments to stretch out and warm up before going at it.
    • Also, if one opponent is knocked down, the other stands back and lets him get up before re-engaging. Justfied because Ccertain fighting styles purposely use sitting as a defensive tactic, since most techniques force an attacker to overextend to reach them, making them more vulnerable.
  • The Mafia
  • Monumental Battle: The Lee/Norris fight scene again. Lee wins again.
  • Never Bring a Knife to a Fist Fight: Any time a mook wields a gun against Lung, he is able to knock it out of his hand.
  • Nice Guy: Tang would rather eat up several bowls of soup rather try to explain that he mis-read the menu. In general he's really amicable unless you piss him off.
  • Olive Garden
  • The Quiet One: Norris' character only speaks once, explaining that the American karate user is his student.
  • Shirtless Scene: Lung flexes his muscles out on a balcony. Later, he and Norris take their shirts off before engaging in their fight.
  • Tempting Fate: The Asian interpreter assures the big boss that Colt can defeat Tang and even says that he'll bet his life on that. Guess what happens to the interpreter after Tang kills Colt?
  • Took a Level in Badass: While they're still nothing compared to the more highly trained Tang and Colt, the staff manages to go from being easily floored by Mooks to being able to put up a decent fight after some training from Tang.
  • Translation Matchmaking: It had its name changed to Return of the Dragon in the US to make it seem like a sequel to Enter the Dragon (which was actually made after this film but released in the US prior to it) in order to capitalize on that film's success.
  • Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny: Bruce Lee vs Chuck Norris
  • With Catlike Tread: One mook that Lee nails is right on course to brain him from behind... until he says that he's got him.
  • Worthy Opponent, After defeating Colt, Lung drapes his gi top over him as a sign of respect.

Did we mention that Bruce Lee pwned Chuck Norris?

Alternative Title(s): Way Of The Dragon, Return Of The Dragon