Director: John Little
Writer: John Little
Cast: John Little, Bruce Lee, Malisa Longo, Jon T. Benn, Anders Nelsson, Riccardo Billi, Chaplin Chang
Running Time: 90 minutes
By Jeff Bona
If you’re a die hard Bruce Lee fanatic and you’re sick and tired of all the countless Bruce Lee documentaries that contain the same footage, usual interview clips and a bunch of other “talking heads,” then John Little’s In Pursuit of the Dragon is a film you don’t want to miss. It may not have any new or rare visuals of Bruce, but it does contain fascinating content that most fans will find both unique and educational.
The majority of Bruce Lee documentaries are decent, but once you get past the essential ones (Bruce Lee: The Legend, Death by Misadventure and A Warrior’s Journey come to mind), the rest aren’t worth your valuable time. Using the recent I Am Bruce Lee documentary as an example: Do we really care what Mickey Rourke thinks of Bruce’s abilities? So Kobe Bryant practices Jeet Kune Do, and? Should we really give a sh*t that an electro house musician was influenced by Bruce? Don’t get me wrong, these guys are talented, but they don’t belong in a Bruce Lee documentary. An interview with Gene LeBell or Danny Inosanto makes total sense, but Al Bundy? Come on. They might as well interview me.
So what makes Little’s In Pursuit of the Dragon so refreshing and different? In a nutshell, Little and a film crew travel to key locations where Bruce Lee’s four completed films were shot: Thailand (The Big Boss), Macao (Fist of Fury), Rome (Way of the Dragon) and Hong Kong (Enter the Dragon). To a casual Bruce Lee fan, seeing these locations may not seem like a big deal, but to an avid fanatic who has watched Lee’s films countless times, it’s a wondrous experience.
Using footage from the actual movies to coincide with the “what the locations look like today” is simply magical. The outcome is comparable to seeing what The Beatles’ Cavern Club looks like today; or even the actual location where John F. Kennedy was assassinated (not to sound crude or anything).
In addition to the then and now-location footage, Little provides interesting insights and commentary (i.e. what goes on in the The Big Boss “mansion” today). He even interviews obscure cast members, such as the bank teller and the Italian beauty from Way of the Dragon. Also, the current “real” manager of the The Big Boss’ ice factory provides a few anecdotes.
In Pursuit of the Dragon has been available in the UK for a few years, but it was recently released on DVD for the first time in the U.S. It’s currently available as a double feature along with Little’s other Bruce Lee documentary A Warrior’s Journey (read our review).
The bottom line: In Pursuit of the Dragon is a breath of fresh air. It made me want to cash out my savings account, get on a plane and head to Thailand so I can visit The Big Boss’ mansion. If there’s one negative thing to say about it, it’s the lack of then and now-location footage for Bruce’s final film, Game of Death. Other than that, I can’t recommend this film enough!
Check out the then and now screen shots below (If you think they’re cool, wait ’til you see them in motion):
Jeff Bona‘s Rating: 8/10
Read our review for Tracking the Dragon, which is essentially an updated version of this documentary.