Netflix Streaming and Amazon Bluray Movie of the Day : WAY OF THE DRAGON

the-way-of-the-dragon-movie-poster-bruce-lee-chuck-norris


WAY OF THE DRAGON is arguably Bruce Lee’s best film, in that it was the film he had the most control over; wearing hat of writer, director, and star. A circumstance which is not always a good thing, actors not always being the best gauge of their own interests or image. However Bruce Lee from the start was more than an actor, he was the message not merely the messenger, and as such was uniquely suited to define himself for others; and he does that expertly in this film.

The opening of WAY OF THE DRAGON (also sometimes referred to as RETURN OF THE DRAGON, confusing in that this came before ENTER THE DRAGON, not after) is pure Charlie Chaplin, Lee showing his penchant for physical comedy, and his pure charisma. And seeing Bruce Lee against the backdrop of the West that he always found both tantalizing and duplicitous, is a joy.

What surprises, revisiting this film after some absence, is how young he is.

You forget that these icons like Hendricks, and Ali, and Bruce Lee that shaped so much of the American consciousness and whose shadows continue to dominate so much of what we consider best of our cultural zeitgeist and worth aspiring to, at the height of their power… were basically just kids who believed the world could be changed… and changed it.

Is WAY OF THE DRAGON the greatest martial arts movie of all time? Probably not, but it is a great movie, and watching a Bruce Lee untouched by age or death, with his whole life ahead of him, in a sumptuously photographed, and largely fun film, is a little like visiting one last time… with a good friend.

There is something bitter and sweet about it.

And the final fight with Chuck Norris is justifiably classic. And like the film itself it is more in the nuances around the fight, the essential touches Lee brought to it, the philosophy of Chinese Boxing, the stretching, the inter-cutting of the kitten, all deliver something more than the spectacle of violence, but a way through violence… to find some peace on the other side of it.

A film that not just every Martial Arts fan should have in their collection, but a film any fan of cinema should proudly have on their curio shelf, as the work of 1970s art that it is.

And also the Blu-Ray is a must have for the audio commentaries, documentaries and pristine picture.

I like streaming for the chance to be exposed to a wealth of movies, but quality (when it is coming from a middle man such as a streaming or cable service) is always subject to bandwidth and signal concerns of the moment. The Bluray, failing damage, will give you the best picture in all moments… consistently.

So for movies like WAY OF THE DRAGON, that you intend to come back to again and again… Blu-Ray is the way to go.

Here’s the link:

The Bruce Lee Premiere Collection (The Big Boss / Fist of Fury / The Way of the Dragon / Game of Death) [Blu-ray]

Highly Recommended! And if a fan of this film I would direct you to the 1970s comic book series it inspired, Marvel Comic’s MASTER OF KUNG FU. Specifically issues 38 and 39 that form an excellent and not to be missed two part story, that any fan of Bruce Lee should check out.

Links here:

Master of Kung Fu, Edition# 38

Master of Kung Fu (1974, 1st series) #38

Master of Kung Fu (1974, 1st series) #39

And a book covering the career of one of the influential artists of the 70s and Bruce Lee fan, Paul Gulacy:

Spies, Vixens and Masters of Kung Fu PB

If you like this blog, and specifically this post, show your support by using the links above. You get great items, and this blog gets a few pennies. A win all the way around. 🙂 Thanks for looking and till next time… make someone smile today.


If, like me, you’ve been interested on Chuck Norris’ take on Bruce Lee well here’s a Norris quote about meeting Lee in New York in 1965, when Lee was working on the GREEN HORNET series. The quote is courtesy of the site BRUCE LEE DAILY:

“I said that I was really tired and that I should get to the hotel because I had an early flight the next day at nine o’clock. Bruce said he was staying at the same hotel so we decided to go over together. So we were taking a cab to the hotel, and now we are really getting involved in our conversation. We get to the hotel and are going up in the lift to the floor that Bruce’s room is on.

We both step out into the hallway – it was about twelve o’clock by now – the next thing I know I’ve got my jacket off and we are working out in the hallway.

I swear to you that the next time I looked at my watch it was seven o’clock the next morning. I looked at my watch again, I could not believe it, I had a flight in two hours back to Los Angeles and Bruce said that when we got back we should work out together, which we did for three years.

Then Bruce left for Hong Kong to pursue his movie career. I didn’t hear anything from him for about two years, then one day I got a call from Hong Kong; it was Bruce, he said: “I’ve just finished two movies over here, they were really successful”. He said he wanted to do a fight scene that everyone would remember and he said I want you to be my opponent and he was going to call the film Way of the Dragon.”

Read the full article Here!

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Exclusionary TV: Whites Only Television? MADMEN, PAN-AM and REVENGE

Provocative title huh?

Well, it’s not quite as provocative as it seems. The premise of this article isn’t that shows such as MADMEN, PAN-AM, and REVENGE are in and of themselves bad or bigoted shows.

They may in and of themselves be good shows. But shows, dramas or scifi or action, that are predominantly White, when not off-set by any shows that are predominantly Black or colored, true to the definition of predominant… create an environment, a medium, that is about the ascendancy, importance, influence, authority of force of one group.

In such an environment it is impossible for me to buy into, relate, follow, view, or otherwise enjoy such shows. Now in an environment where a show such as PAN-AM is counter-pointed with a show on The forming of AIR JAMAICA or the Black Stuntmen’s Union or the Black Coyboys’ Union or any adventure or thrilling show with a predominant cast of color; then PAN-AM rather than being indicative of a color and ethnic bias in every show in tv, can be seen as one voice in a chorus, rather than the same voice, everywhere.

So that’s the problem I have with shows such as MADMEN and REVENGE they paint everything with the same trite and pale brush (take the series REVENGE, based on a book by the son of one of the most famous Black men, and the cast is all white. Explain that to me? Along with that it always rings false that we have yet to see a THREE MUSKETEERS that represents the ethnicity of the author Alexandre Dumas, or the ethnicity of the inspiration for all Dumas’ heroes, namely his father, France’s most famous and most feared soldier, the elder Alexandre Dumas, (inexplicably called Thomas-Alexandre in recent writings), the Black giant, the warrior Moor, Napolean’s most feared and brilliant General. The COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO is directly inspired by how his father was betrayed by Napolean, imprisoned, and killed. And rather than anyone ever tell that story, it becomes in REVENGE about a blond woman, mad about something. Forgive me if I have no interest in that retelling.)

So, What’s the solution?

We’ll get to it. First indulge me, with a brief trip to yesteryear.

In the late 50s, into the 60s and 70s television and cinema in the US, and indeed throughout the Western World, made great strides in becoming more representative of the class struggle going on throughout the world.

That’s a fact, it just is. So let’s begin there.

As countries from Congo to Cuba to Korea to the West Indies to Brazil all were dealing, at various stages, with the shattering of traditional Colonial ties. With populations of repressed people, embracing the concept, both with artistry and arms, of “not eating at another man’s table” but creating their own table.

It was a staggering period not just of revolution, but potentially evolution… for the world and the west.

Rather than mass media that explored and showcased only the fantasies and the fears of the white and the male you began getting shows that took place in a world reflective of the movements changing the landscape of our cultures and our time. Civil disobedience, and sit-ins, and Black power, and Native American rights, transcendentalism and free love, sexual and religious experimentation, and of course war and the search for peace and self identification.

And all these growing pains, all of this stew of change, could be seen in the entertainment of the age.

DANGER MAN, MISSION IMPOSSIBLE, PROFESSIONALS, GOOD TIMES, SANFORD AND SON, the rise of Soul Cinema, and the rise of Hong Kong Cinema, and Neo-Realism in Italy, and the New Wave in France, and the didactic films out of Russia, and Brazil, and Cuba, and Senegal, all of this making its way to newly born film studies programs in the states that gave birth to a whole generation of entertainment makers excited and influenced and inspired by this time of change and challenge.

So suddenly you had Patrick McGoohan in the DANGER MAN TV show 50 years ago globe-trotting and going to different countries and different people, and exploring issues of colonialism, and civil war, and terrorism, and governmental oppression, and doing this with a changing ethnically diverse cast. Dealing with issues of Middle East tensions and modern slavery. And this kind of informed and humanistic film-making came from the creators down. And all the shows of that period, while not DANGER MAN ground breaking, to greater or lesser degrees were that informed and representative of a culturally diverse and changing world.

Move the clock forward 50 years, and suddenly you have no community owned or locally owned cinema, much less production companies. That’s not an accident, that’s a very pointed, and very considered monopolization and marginalization.

You have the end of virtually any locally or regionally owned newspaper, radio, or television station. So you get the end of people and community created movements, and art and music, and you get instead corporate construction of reality and ‘art’ in things like AMERICAN IDOL and its ilk.

You have cinema and television that is in retreat from ideas… like diversity and the rights of man, and instead seeks a return to the exclusionary, blinders on, cinema of the 50s. Not just in terms of content and cast in front of the camera, but talent and crew behind the camera.

As, in reality, the mad military war machine of billionaires undoes the local determinism of countries like Haiti and Liberia and Libya, so too is our entertainment,no less the tool of billionaires, undoing the strides made toward multiculturalism. A return to “Whites only” television from MADMEN to PAN-AM to REVENGE.

And those shows while they hold no interest for me, would be fine if they were counterpointed by an equal number of US made shows with a majority of Black or Brown or Asian or a combination thereof, of actors in front the camera, and talent behind the camera.

And the talent is there, as screenwriters such as John Ridley discuss in numerous interviews. Even more talent than was available in the 60s and 70s is available now, the difference is, the cinemas are bought up, the advertising is cost prohibitive, and quite frankly the doors are closed.

In the 60s and 70s, Hollywood saw the need for an influx of diversity to save them from the rise of Independent Cinema (an outgrowth of viable and healthy local cinemas, local determinism), and there were a good number of people in the studios who were happy and excited for that diversity. They were part of the changing times, and part of changing it.

Today Independent Cinema has no way into the theaters, because the locally owned theater circuit, and indeed the community controlled mass-media circuit that served America, particularly Black America from the 20s to the 70s, has been bought out, legalized away, and generally dismantled.

For what was gained, more was lost in the compromise of integration.

The problem with the doctrine of separate and equal, was the fact that is was NEVER separate and equal, it was always separate and UNEQUAL. The Black Power movement and Black Panther movement was about making it SEPARATE AND EQUAL. Was to make the lie into the truth. And that is the reason we have integration today. Because the idea of separate and equal, scared the powers to be to their very soul.

They saw in the more moderate integration model of Martin Luther and his ilk, a compromise that could become a massive victory. They retreated from Separate and (Un)equal and embraced Integration of a sort, “you can now use our Bathrooms, you can now to an extent come into our house, but… you have to lose your house. You have to lose your radio stations, your movie theaters, your stores, your farms, your wallstreets, your sports teams, your attempt at self determination”.

Of course it wasn’t presented like that, but a few decades later that’s absolutely what has happened. The thriving economic base of Black America that thrived even under the odiousness of Separate but unequal, wherein they could still provide for themselves and be self sufficient, has been completely gutted under the together but even more UNEQUAL system of integration. And that robbing of local determinism has extended to all America. Has shown itself to be the most significant volley in a class-war that has America trillions of dollars in debt, and slaved, to corporations gross and immoral.

And television and cinema is the clearest example of this wholesale pillaging of a peoples economic potential.

So that’s what I see when I see shows like MADMAN or PANAM or REVENGE or SMALLVILLE (past season 4) I see prejudice and bigotry and class warfare… codified.

So you have a television and a cinema environment that has turned back the clock, and is again solely about showcasing the fantasies and the fears of the white and the rich, to the exclusion of all else.

It bores me to go backwards. To learn from the past is a great thing, to repeat the past is not. And we have a whole generation of studio execs and heads, who think they are doing something new by embracing the old, and all they are doing… is wasting time.

In a multi-cultural society, an increasingly multi-cultural society, these dreams of exclusion cannot stand, they will become unsatisfying, they always do. And in the end we will have to waste years just getting back to the same point of diversity as the 1970s. Getting back to the starting point from which we should be… evolving.

So let’s cut out some of the time wasting. Contact these studios signing off on this exclusionary television, the creators and producers, twitter them, facebook em, call’em, even write em, let them know the show doesn’t represent you, and to create a show that does. And let the advertisers know, say “this show boycotts me and mine. Since you are asking me to support your product, I want you to produce a show that supports me.”

It’s economics people. For all their crushing of competition, ultimately the decision makers and gate-keepers still need to create a product you want to buy. Let them know they are failing at that mandate.

Let them know you want to see more shows, that are both smart and diverse.

Day Break – The Complete Series- Do not buy the 2disk version, get the 4 disk version

55 Degrees North – Series One & Two – 5-DVD Box Set ( Fifty Five Degrees North ) ( 55 Degrees North – Entire Series 1 & 2 ) [ NON-USA FORMAT, PAL, Reg.2.4 Import – United Kingdom ]

Kidnapped – The Complete Series

Secret Agent AKA Danger Man: The Complete Collection (Slimline Packaging)

The Philanthropist: The Complete Series

Kings – The Complete Series

Blood & Bone

I Am Cuba: The Ultimate Edition

Let them know you want to see more DAY BREAK with Taye Diggs and Moon Bloodgood, more 55 DEGREES NORTH with Don Gilet, more KINGS with Eamonn Walker more BLOOD AND BONE with Michael Jai White, more James Purefoy and Jesse L. Martin in THE PHILANTHROPIST (the spiritual descendant of McGoohan’s DANGER MAN); more shows that look forward to solutions, rather than backward to evasions.

Challenge the creators, challenge the studios, challenge the advertisers, challenge the performers, and challenge yourself to go not marching backward, but to go forward… into the mystery. And ultimately we will as cities and a nation, have to eschew outside control, and embrace again local production of items and local determinism.

And it starts as simply as recognizing and calling out the prejudiced the exclusionary and the destructive when we see it.

Here endeth the lesson.

PODCAST OF THE DAY: SIDEBAR CAST EPISODE #177

PODCAST OF THE DAY:

SIDEBAR CAST EPISODE #177: Interview with Storyboard Artist Warren Drummond- Fantastic and fun interview he covers entertaining anecdotes and stories touching on everyone from Denzel Washington to Harrison Ford to Ron Howard to John Singleton to Bruce Lee to Kathryn Bigelow! It’s just great.

Listen to it here!

10 Favorite Martial Arts Films of the last 25 Years!!

While Donnie Yen’s IP MAN is all the rage today, for my money Donnie Yen’s two best films are refugees from over 20 years ago. Wow I can’t believe 1990, was that long ago. 🙂

But yeah the films are:

IN THE LINE OF DUTY 4
TIGER CAGE 2

I Love these two films because it’s the trinity of him and his friends, American actors Michael Woods and John Salvitti. And the magic of these guys going at it, just puts the shine on an already brilliant martial arts film.

and


RIGHTING WRONGS (aka ABOVE THE LAW)-Not only Biao Yuen kicking ass, but Cynthia Rothrock’s finest role as well. Not only a great Martial Arts film, but a surprisingly bleak crime film.


TOM YUM GOONG/HONOR OF THE BEAST- Jumping ahead a bit , Tony Jaa who last time I looked gave up film to join the monastary, in this film catapults himself into the forefront of martial arts stars. Look past the at times horrendous story and acting, and the film has some phenomenal, breath taking action sequences. The long uncut tracking shot up the stairs being not just a martial arts highlight, but a cinematic one as well. Not a great film, not even a very good film, but it has moments of greatness that can’t be ignored.

FIST OF LEGEND- Jet Li has done tons of films since this 1994 film, he’s done UNLEASHED, CRADLE TO THE GRAVE, etc. FIST OF LEGEND remains not just the best martial arts film he’s done, it remains a great film.

And staying on the Jet Li kick for just a second, I’m going to commit sacrilege here and add two conventional, big budget Hollywood films (that are ostensibly just action films) to this list:

BOURNE ULTIMATUM
EXPENDABLES

Yeah I said it. I think both of those movies are stunt and fight choreographed brilliantly. I mean, I am in no way a Matt Damon fan… personally I’m tired of seeing him in every movie that comes out, he’s overused and too often miscast, that said, he’s phenomenal in BOURNE ULTIMATUM. And I can re-watch that and EXPENDABLES endlessly. So definitely non-traditional choices, and I am taking great liberties with the Martial Arts label, but hey… I think they kick enough butt to sneak on the list.

THE TOURNAMENT- Has some great martial arts sequences by Sebastien Foucan, Kelly Hu, and Scott Adkins. Unfortunately the movie is completely gutted by a horrendously pathetic performance by Ving Rhames, badly written and directed and plodding sequences whenever the camera gets to Rhames’ storyline. But when not on him, the movie flies. Sebastien Foucan, the Free-running Frenchmen, co-creator of Free-Running (and also was the actor in the beginning of CASINO ROYALE) is criminally underused. He has only been given two bit parts in movies to date, and to my mind he should be up for roles in the same vein as a Statham or Damon. I would prefer him in roles over those two. He’s an amazing, exciting presence and the camera loves his free-running style. This one is more of an honorable mention, due to just how much I had to fast forward through Ving Rhames ‘acting’. Don’t get me wrong, I like Ving Rhames in some things, he was okay in DAWN OF THE DEAD… it just seems that with him less, is better. And again this is an honorable mention, and doesn’t get counted as one of the 10.

DISTRICT B13- speaking of free running. Just an adrenalin inducing, fun, mile a minute ride. it’s great. Honorable mention being LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD that also stars fellow free-runner David Belle.

And the last two spots goes to… no not IP MAN, no not MERANTU…

For me, by a wide, wide margin the two best, top of the list Martial Arts films of the last 25 years, both star a criminally neglected Martial Artist, and a fantastic actor. Unlike most Martial Artists.

I’m talking about the films…

UNDISPUTED II

and the number one film…

BLOOD AND BONE.

Both of these I was actually avoiding. I was like ‘uggg, cheesy martial arts ripoff film. How good could it be.’. No, effing no. These are two of the best Martial Arts Films, for a really surprising reason, it’s because first and foremost… they are great films. Period.

Solid story. Solid performances. Great direction. And on top of that you add, frenetic, kick ass Martial Arts.

UNDISPUTED II (aka ICEMAN)- Is better than the Walter Hill directed original. Much, much better. Directed by Martial artist Isacc Florentine, and starring martial artists Michael Jai White and Scott Adkins, the film first and foremost… looks great. Is compelling from beginning to end. It’s just fantastic. And… it has a great, not to be missed commentary. Do yourself a favor, get this film. You won’t be disappointed.

and the top of the heap goes to the not exactly confidence inspiring titled BLOOD AND BONE, I mean the box art and poster looks brain-dead stupid, but Mein Gott is this a good film!

It frigging earns the title of BLOOD AND BONE. Directed by, for me at least, virtual unknown Ben Ramsey, I’ve watched Martial Arts films longer than I care to reflect on, and I’ve rarely seen a more confidently directed and brilliantly shot Martial Arts film. I think a lot of the credit, and they are quick to point out in the commentary (which is a must listen), has to be shared with veteran cameraman Roy H. Wagner. But end of the day this is Michael Jai White’s day as he choreographs one of the most complete, entertaining and amazing fight films in years.

And it is packed from floor to rafters with real top notch MMA fighters. It is amazing, and I’d love to see a series of films with this character. The fact that a movie like this doesn’t make it in to theaters, and crap like Kevin Smith’s COP OUT can open on 2000 screens, I find deeply, deeply troubling.

So that’s it guys, my list of my 10 favorite martial arts films of the last 25 years. Thanks for viewing and if you are interested in purchasing please use the links below. As every penny helps keep this blog rolling. Thanks!

Blood & Bone

Undisputed II – Last Man Standing

Above the Law

Tiger Cage 2

In the Line of Duty 4

Fist of Legend

p.s. One more honorable mention, the genre defying film, BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF.