Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story (1993) - USA
Reviewed by Andrew Chan (Film Critics Circle of Australia)
Stepping into the shoes of legendary Bruce Lee is by no means easy and despite some initial reservations, Jason Scott Lee excels by the end of the film. In “Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story”, Lee manages to oozes by with acting chops, physical prowess and a definite image of the real deal. With no martial arts background at the time, Lee was casted into the role mainly for his acting ability. Studied under Bruce Lee’s student, Lee manages to convince in most of the fight scenes, even if wires appear to be overused and punches and kicks lacking real power in the stances. Still, Director Rob Cohen does extremely well in capturing Bruce Lee’s rags to riches story even if his philosophy seems to be less important than the rise to fame.
Jason Scott Lee may not process Bruce’s good looks, but more than compensate with some good acting display and even managed to make the role his own. Its by no means a easy feat as a lesser actor would have totally destroyed the role. Lee is expressive and tries hard to honestly express himself just as Bruce did in real life. Lauren Holly as Linda is spot on as the “rock” and supportive wife who stand by Bruce thru the best and worst of times. The film explores how important Linda was in allowing Bruce to become who he can. It’s great and refreshing to witness an on-screen love passionate interracial affair, that is so rare in Hollywood especially in the early 90s. Nancy Kwan appears as the kind hearted restaurant boss who employs and guide Lee to the right path in his early days in America.
All in all, “Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story” is by no means perfect and there are moments that seems far to mythical that raises more questions that it answers. Still, it’s a good showcase for Asian American in Hollywood at a time where there was almost none in the early 90s. The film was also released after the untimely death of Bruce’s son - Brandon Lee and the final scene adds to the tragedy. It would be another few years before Jackie Chan and Jet Li successfully cracked into Hollywood, but undoubtedly one man casted the path for future generations and that man is Bruce Lee.
I rated it 8/10