Director: John Little
Writer: John Little
Cast: John Little, Bruce Lee, Malisa Longo, Jon T. Benn, Anders Nelsson, Riccardo Billi, Chaplin Chang
Running Time: 100 minutes
By Jeff Bona
Back in 2013, I reviewed a documentary titled In Pursuit of the Dragon, by noted Bruce Lee historian, John Little (A Warrior’s Journey). Unlike the most of the endless, oversaturated list of Bruce Lee documentaries – many of which featured the same tired footage, usual interview clips and other useless “talking heads” – I found Little’s In Pursuit of the Dragon to be refreshing because of its one-of-a-kind premise, which focused on the actual filming locations of Bruce Lee’s four completed films. To quote my review: Using footage from the actual movies to coincide with the ‘what the locations look like today’ is simply magical. Basically, I loved every minute of it.
When it was announced that MVD Visual was releasing Tracking the Dragon, another Bruce Lee-related project by John Little, I jumped at the opportunity to obtain an advanced copy. But when I finally got my hands on the DVD, I found its official description curiously familiar:
“Bruce Lee expert John Little tracks down the actual locations of some of Bruce Lee’s most iconic action scenes. Many of these sites remain largely unchanged nearly half a century later. At monasteries, ice factories, and on urban streets, Little explores the real life settings of Lee’s legendary career.”
After reading the above, I thought to myself: “This must be a repacked, retitled, double-dipped version of In Pursuit of the Dragon that’s being marketed as a “new” film to suck every last drop of profit from a product that’s over 3 years old.” And boy was I right…
Tracking the Dragon IS a repacked, retitled and double-dipped version of In Pursuit of the Dragon. However, I can honestly say that it has been repacked, retitled and double-dipped in the most positive way possible.
Here’s a list of the key differences between In Pursuit of the Dragon and Tracking the Dragon. Keep in mind that I didn’t watch them both simultaneously, but I did skim through In Pursuit of the Dragon moments after watching Tracking the Dragon, so think of the following as the most noticeable distinctions between the two:
- Tracking the Dragon has optimized audio and visual. Video footage has been remastered and now appears to have more of an High Definition look (even for DVD it pops on a 1080p TV). In comparison, In Pursuit of the Dragon looks fuzzy with lower audio quality.
- Tracking the Dragon is 10 minutes longer than In Pursuit of the Dragon. That’s not say it’s only 10 minutes longer. In other words, Tracking the Dragon is edited in a tighter, smarter fashion; with more overlaps and picture-in-picture effects, which essentially means more content per frame.
- Post-production work on Tracking the Dragon is a lot more professional-looking. Then and now-location footage gels together more cohesively. If In Pursuit of the Dragon appears to have taken 3 weeks to edit together, Tracking the Dragon most likely took 3 months.
- Tracking the Dragon features new/alternative shots, resulting in a different experience. It’s also injected with extra clips and photos, which give it much more depth than In Pursuit of the Dragon.
- New segments: Unlike In Pursuit of the Dragon, Tracking the Dragon doesn’t end with Enter the Dragon. Instead, we’re treated with extra footage of Bruce Lee’s Hong Kong house, Betty Ting Pei’s apartment (where Bruce passed away) and locations such as rooftops where a teenage Bruce used to street fight, Bruce’s famous parking lot photo shoot, and much more (won’t spoil it for you).
The bottom line: A better title for Tracking the Dragon would be In Pursuit of the Dragon 2.0. Sure, I can understand if some people will dismiss it as a double-dipper, but it all depends on how much you value newly added footage, as well as upgrades all across the board.
Considering Little and his team traveled all around the world to capture all this footage, a new and improved, longer, remastered version of an already-awesome project is worth $20 bucks to me.
Besides, it’s probably time for you to re-watch In Pursuit of the Dragon anyways – and if you do, you’ll want to watch it in the form of Tracking the Dragon to get the most out of your re-watching pleasure. If you haven’t seen either, then picking up Tracking the Dragon is a no-brainer.
Jeff Bona‘s Rating: 9/10
Read our In Pursuit of the Dragon review for more information.