Super Dragon | aka Chinese Chien Chuan Kung Fu (1975) Review

"Superdragon" American Theatrical Poster

"Superdragon" American Theatrical Poster

AKA: Bruce Lee Superstar, Legend of Bruce Lee
Director: Lin Bing
Cast: Bruce Li (aka Ho Chung Tao, James Ho), Shan Mao, Paul Wei Ping Ao, Got Siu Bo, Tse Ling Ling, Lung Fei, Tai Leung, Woo Chau Ping
Running Time: 90 min.

By Jeff Bona

People (including myself) keep on confusing “Superdragon” (aka “Young Bruce Lee”)  with another Bruce Lee bio-film, which also stars Bruce Li, called “Bruce Lee: A Dragon Story” (aka “Dragon Dies Hard”). You can use all the websites, books and forums you want; Keep in mind that none of them are accurate, including the one you’re reading at right now. Depending on your country, as well as the version of the VHS//BETAMAX/DVD you have, the titles are a mixed mess.

“Superdragon” is, by far, the worst of the Bruce Lee bio-films (I have yet to see “Story of the Dragon”). I understand that bio-films will always have their inaccuracies, but with “Superdragon,” the filmmakers didn’t even try to come close to the facts. It’s almost as if they barely knew the surface of Bruce life, and just went ahead and made shit up as they filmed.

“Superdragon” is disjointed, sloppy and dull. It’s basically another one of Bruce Li’s “early stinkers” (as Carl Jones, author of “Here Come The Bruce Lee Clones,” puts it), so expect extremely generic martial arts choreography and incompetent filmmaking — even for 70’s kung fu standards.

Here’s what you can expect from “Superdragon”:

– Bruce’s first teacher was a fat ass phony who didn’t even know kung fu. His second teacher was a spiritual hermit-type who hangs around buddha statues.

– Bruce grew up and kept in touch with two childhood friends: Chow Wu (I assume he’s based on Unicorn Chan) and a female named Chow Mei (maybe the English dubbers snagged the name from Maria’s Yi’s character in “The Big Boss”).

– Bruce’s self-developed, unorthodox style is called “Chieh Chuan Kung Fu” (hence, the film’s original title), as opposed to Jeet Kune Do.

– A Raymond Chow-ish film producer, played by Paul Wei Ping Ao (the scrawny interpreter from “Fists of Fury”), is goofy figure who follows Bruce around, hoping to get him to sign a multi-picture deal.

– Bruce had a hardcore death premonition, which he openly talked about to his friend, Chow Wu. He says things like: “How long do you think I’m going to live?” and “I keep on thinking of a song called I’m going to live ’til I die” (in real life, Blood Sweat & Tears’ “And When I Die” was played at Bruce’s funeral ceremony in Seattle).

– The way “Superdragon” ends is just silly. Everything happens so abruptly, with no explanation about Bruce’s death whatsoever. All we get is Chow Wu yelling: “Bruce….. noooo!”

Films like “Superdragon” make me wonder why Golden Harvest (production company to Bruce Lee’s films) never got off their asses and made their own Bruce Lee bio-film. Instead, they jumped on making “Bruce Lee, The Man & The Legend” (1974), an interesting, but depressing documentary, which concentrates more on the immediate aftermath of his death.

Maybe “Superdragon” isn’t as bad as I’m making it out to be. Ultimately, it’s another example of an ‘opium dream’ of Bruce’s life (kind of like “The Dragon Lives“) seen through the eyes worshippers who believe Bruce was a flawless, God-like being from another world.

Unless you’re a Bruce Li (aka Ho Chung Tao, James Ho) fanatic or completist, skip this with all your might.

Footnote: The film’s original U.S. poster suggests that the film has a “special guest appearance by Jimmy Wang Yu.” From my understanding, early theatrical prints did indeed have Wang Yu, but the footage was actually spliced in from “Blood of the Dragon”. Since then, Wang Yu’s “Blood of the Dragon” scenes have been been replaced by an unknown kung fu film, most likely due to copyright laws.

Jeff Bona‘s Rating: 2/10

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3 Responses to Super Dragon | aka Chinese Chien Chuan Kung Fu (1975) Review

  1. James Lee says:

    The original version that was dubbed in Europe has the unknown “film-within-a-film”. The Us version replaced this with two long clips, one from Slash! The Blade of Death (with Maria Yi and James Tien), and The Screaming Tiger (with Jimmy Wang Yu)

    Cheih Chuan Do is Mandarin for Jeet Kune Do – I think

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