"The Way of the Dragon" (originally released in the United States as Return of the Dragon) is a 1972 Hong Kong martial arts action-comedy film written, co-produced and directed by Bruce Lee, who also stars in the lead role. This is Lee's only complete directorial film and the last one released during his lifetime. The film also features Chuck Norris playing his debut screen role. The Way of the Dragon was released in Hong Kong on December 30, 1972, and in the United States in August, 1974.
Bruce Lee formed his own production company, Concord Production Inc., with Golden Harvest founder Raymond Chow, and The Way of the Dragon was the company's first film. As well as acting as its producer, Lee also wrote the script, directed the film and played percussion on the soundtrack.
The film was originally intended as only for the Asian market, but was ultimately "responsible for maintaining the momentum of martial arts films in America". What makes it particularly memorable is the treatment of the fight in the Colosseum, with Chuck Norris making his film debut there. Lee filmed it "in long takes, framing it so that you could see their entire bodies. He used dramatic lighting, making both of them look larger-than-life."
In this scene, Bruce Lee's opponent, Bob Wall, is a nemesis that also appeared as a villian in other Bruce Lee films, including "Enter the Dragon":
Bruce Lee's shows his mastery of the nunchucks in this fight scene:
The final Bruce Lee featured fight with Chuck Norris at the Colosseum is a classic scene.
Bruce Lee demonstrated and popularized a technique that would later be called the oblique kick. This technique is frequently used by several modern mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters, most notably the UFC pound-for-pound champion Jon Jones, who cited Lee as an inspiration:
Against the film's final budget of $150,000, the film initially grossed $50 million worldwide, before increasing its gross to $85 million and then $100 million by 1974. The film went on to gross an estimated $130 million worldwide (equivalent to over $700 million adjusted for inflation), against a tight budget of $130,000, earning a thousand times its budget. It was the highest-grossing Hong Kong film up until Lee's next film, Enter the Dragon (1973).
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