Legacy of Rage | aka Fire Dragon (1986) Review

"Legacy of Rage" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"Legacy of Rage" Japanese Theatrical Poster

Literally: Dragon All Over the Country
Director: Ronnie Yu Yan-Tai
Producer: Dickson Poon Dik-Sun
Writer: Clifton Ko Chi-Sum, Raymond Fung
Cast: Brandon Lee, Michael Wong Man-Tak, Michael Chan Wai-Man, Regina Kent, Bolo Yeung, Ng Man-Tat, Mang Hoi, Tanya George, Louis Roth, Stuart Smith
Running Time: 86 min.

By Joe909

You know you’re in for trouble when even the opening theme song is half-assed; it sounds like someone turning on a cheap Casio keyboard and goofing off with a few keys. Probably the most depressing movie I’ve ever seen, Legacy of Rage plods on through its 90 minutes, giving us an 8-year view of the terrible life lead by Brandon Lee’s character, who is named, oddly enough “Brandon.” He’s set up by his best friend ? who also continuously hits on Brandon’s fiancé ? he’s sent to prison, his fiancé moves to Brazil with an older guy, and, even in prison, Brandon has to put up with daily assaults by a gang of gwailo. Luckily, Brandon meets Four-Eyes, who happens to be a gun runner, and upon release from prison, Brandon works a few odd jobs before going all out in his vengeance.

Like A Better Tomorrow Part 2, Legacy of Rage is only notable for its dynamite ending. Bey Logan has it listed in his “Hong Kong Action Cinema” as one of the top heroic bloodshed battles, and it deserves to be listed there. Brandon and Four-Eyes blast apart countless goons in a 15-20 minute orgy of violence. I wouldn’t say that the scene is as good as ABT 2, but it does pack a big wallop, especially after the preceding hour of trite melodrama.

Supposedly Brandon Lee wasn’t very interested in martial arts when he made this movie, in 1986, so that might explain why there are only a few seconds of kung-fu in the film. Even his fight with Bolo Yeung is over before it starts, to quote Bey Logan. But even considering that Brandon didn’t want to do martial arts at the time, that still doesn’t explain why he would agree to such a depressing, dark movie. At least his sister got it right, by debuting in the pure actioner Enter the Eagles.

As it is, I’d just recommend skipping through the movie to the final fight. You don’t need to know the characters, or, worse yet, their plights. Just enjoy the shenanigans and gun fire, and like those guys on SCTV, you can chuckle and say “that blew up real good” when you see things exploding.

On a final note, I first saw this movie around ten years ago in its English-dubbed version. Brandon was dubbed in English throughout by another actor, except for the scenes in prison, where he talks to the gwailo bullies. There Brandon spoke in his own voice, saying short statements like “How do you wanna play?” and “No more.” I believe those scenes were recorded in sync-sound; at least, they sounded like they were. On the HK dvd Cantonese dub, Brandon’s voice is dubbed the whole time, even when he speaks English; the actor doing his voice for the English lines can barely speak the language. I wonder why they didn’t use Brandon’s voice. It isn’t a big deal, though, as the HK dvd’s picture blows away the quality of my old, English dubbed video, which was fullscreen and had Dutch subtitles. Those damn Dutch.

Joe909’s Rating: 4/10

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5 Responses to Legacy of Rage | aka Fire Dragon (1986) Review

  1. DougWonnacott says:

    I just bought the Shout Factory release of this. The Ronny Yu/Mike Leeder commentary is very informative about Brandon Lee’s uncomfortable foray into HK films.

  2. DougWonnacott says:

    A mix of stuff I knew and some I didn’t. Firstly Ronny Yu comes across very well. He seems fairly honest about the more difficult aspects of making the film without ever slagging anyone off. I’d love to hear him and Mike Leeder do a commentary for my favourite Yu film The Postman Fights Back.

    It seems that Lee wasn’t that keen on doing a HK action film. He didn’t want to do any martial arts in the film, but Dickson Poon had asked Ronny Yu for an MA film, hence the compromise of the short fights mixed with gun play. Ronny Yu, Michael Wong and Regina Kent were chosen from D&B’s contract players because Lee didn’t speak cantonese so they wanted an english speaking director and actors to make him more comfortable. Lee walked out on a press conference then refused to take part in any promotion for the film. He was signed for two films, but the second one never happened. Lee didn’t get on very well with the stunt team. Maybe some friction because they thought he got the gig just because he’s the son of Bruce Lee (which is basically true).

    Basically it seemed like Lee had a bad attitude and didn’t handle it too well. Watching later interviews with him it seems like he mellowed and became a much wiser, more humble guy a lot more comfortable with his family legacy. If he was still alive today I wonder if he would have gone back to Hong Kong for another try.

    • That’s interesting stuff! Thanks for the insight. Wonder what the 2nd film would have been? Seems like Brandon spent his first movies trying to dodge martial arts (I’m sure the TV shows and TV movies were strictly for the pay check), but by Showdown in Little Tokyo, he decided to use it to break into Hollywood. There’s a rumor going around that he was supposed to star in Simon Says, which ultimately became Die Hard 3.

  3. gZa says:

    Finally watched this. Not a bad flick. Interesting comments though, it was definitely a mishmash of genres.

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