|Category||Drama||Theatrical Trailer(s)||Yes, 2 - 2.35:1 (non-16x9 Enhanced), Dolby Digital 2.0|
|Year Released||1993||Commentary Tracks||Yes, 1 - Rob Cohen (Director)|
(Not 114 Minutes as stated on packaging)
|Other Extras||Introduction by Linda Lee Cadwell
Featurette - The Making Of Dragon (6:11)
Cast & Crew Biographies
Storyboard Sequences (5)
Featurette - Jason Scott Lee Screen Test (3:39)
Featurette - Outtakes (5:17)
Featurette - Interview With Bruce Lee (7:11)
Picture Gallery - Dragon Promotional Materials
Bruce Lee Photographs
Columbia Tristar Home Video
|Starring||Jason Scott Lee
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||MPEG||None|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Dolby Digital||5.1|
||Soundtrack Languages||English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 448 Kb/s)
German (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192 Kb/s)
French (Dolby Digital 2.0, 192 Kb/s)
Italian (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192 Kb/s)
Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192 Kb/s)
Czech (Dolby Digital 2.0, 192 Kb/s)
Polish (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, 192 Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary (Dolby Digital 1.0, 96 Kb/s)
|Theatrical Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
The film begins with some sequences in Hong Kong that depict Bruce being trained in the art of Kung Fu. Bruce, or Little Dragon as he is known at this point (I think his given name was Chinese for Little Dragon, but that is how he is called in the subtitles, in any case), soon finds himself in serious trouble with the British authorities after severely injuring one British sailor in the process of defending a young woman and her honour. Soon, Bruce is sent to America with the assumed identity of Bruce Lee (Jason Scott Lee). While there, Bruce negotiates situation after situation through use of the skills attained from the vigorous martial arts training of his childhood, and meets his future wife, Linda (Lauren Holly), in the process. Eventually, some of the Americans he is attending university with ask him if he will train them in his style of martial arts. This doesn't sit well with the Kung Fu grandmasters, and Bruce eventually finds himself facing an angry organization who pit him against a rather nasty opponent in the ring. Essentially, if he can defeat this opponent using his martial arts skills, then they will not interfere with him training his students in the art of kung fu. The bout leaves Bruce in a hospital bed, where he undergoes a rather extended period of rehabilitation, all the while dictating notes about a new style of martial arts of his own design to Linda. After another sequence in the ring in which Bruce demonstrates the effectiveness of his newly developed style, he is contacted by a Hollywood producer (Robert Wagner), who asks the immortal question of whether Bruce can do his fighting magic on camera.
Most of Bruce's life story after this point is fairly well known, and it is pointless to repeat it here, except to say that during the production of Enter The Dragon, Bruce began collapsing because his brain was swelling. Although I do not know the exact term for this condition, it is also well-known that shortly before Enter The Dragon was released, Bruce slipped into a coma and died. The voice-over at the end of the film explains these facts in a certain overly dramatic fashion, but it is the best summation I've ever heard of the plot: "Three weeks before the opening of Enter The Dragon, the film that brought him international fame, Bruce fell into a mysterious coma and died. He was thirty-two. Over twenty-five thousand people attended his funeral in Hong Kong, but I buried him back home in America to be close to us. All these years later, people still wonder about the way he died. I prefer to remember the way he lived." This is what makes Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story work so well: it does not restrict itself to being just another martial arts flick. It treats us to spectacular fight sequences, a compelling love story, and a drama about a man who accomplished more in a short lifetime than most people do in a very long one. Another area where it scores an extra point is the involvement of people who personally knew Bruce Lee, and we're not just talking about his widow (Robert Wagner is one such person, and Jerry Poteet, who taught Jason Scott Lee how to execute the fight sequences, was trained by Lee himself). In plot terms, this is a very worthy addition to anyone's film collection.
The colour saturation was variable, and there are moments in the same shot where skin tones change dramatically, but thankfully these problems are occasional. Most of the time, thankfully, the colour saturation is balanced and accurate, although at times it appears to be slightly oversaturated due to the excessive amount of yellow in some skin tones (even some non-Asian actors show a touch of this at times). Perhaps I am slightly oversensitive to this problem, but sometimes I got the feeling that the intensity of certain colours like red and yellow were a little too high. MPEG artefacts were absent from the presentation, but film-to-video artefacts were noticeable in spite of their rarity. During the sequence in which Bruce fights for the right to teach Kung Fu to whomever he wants, one man's shirt shows such a massive moiré effect that you'd have to be blind to miss it. This is certainly not the only moiré or aliasing effect shown by people's clothes during the film, but it is definitely the most noticeable. This artefact is especially troubling because it should not have shown up on a DVD in this manner, regardless of the circumstances. This is another effect that I believe would have been erased if the film had been 16x9 Enhanced. Film artefacts consisted of a film spot or two every now and then, but I've certainly seen younger films display this artefact with more frequency.
Normally I would not comment about the subtitles, but I have to commend whomever Universal employed to subtitle this film, because they have carried on a fine tradition of actually making the subtitles match the dialogue. However, the lack of vertical resolution in this film makes the ending credits very strenuous to read. How strenuous? Let's put it this way: when I start complaining that something is hard to read or hard on the eyes, it means that people with the best kind of eyesight will make similar complaints.
This disc is presented in the RSDL format, with the layer change coming in at 63:21, while Linda is sitting in a hospital waiting room. It is a noticeable layer change, but it is not in the slightest bit disruptive to the film. Although the extent to which you will notice the change is dependent on your player, suffice to say that the Toshiba DVD player I viewed this film on makes the layer change hard to notice. This would be one of the best layer changes I have seen on a Universal DVD, especially compared to films like The Thing and Darkman, where the layer change was placed in the middle of an action or in the middle of a conversation.
The score music by Randy Edelman was very supportive of the on-screen action, especially the more emotional moments such as the voice-over summation of the story at the end of the film. Although the score music is not very distinctive, I feel it is one of the most complementary film scores in how it relates to the film that I have heard in recent years. The director's commentary has a couple of very complimentary things to say about the score music, and I certainly cannot argue with them. The music lifts the dramatic element of many scenes in this film, such as Bruce's dictation of his martial arts theories to Linda, and the aforementioned ending. The love theme that appears as Bruce wheels his way into Linda's room is easily one of the best of its kind. This score is amazing, especially given the fact that the film does not lend a lot of support to musical development. A lot of use is made of traditional oriental instruments at some points, but the score functions more as a whole than as the sum of the parts.
The surround presence of this film is very immersive, with many ambient and directional sounds sent to the surround channels. The haunted screaming sounds in the demon sequences are particularly well mixed in this soundfield, and the sounds coming from off-camera sources benefit quite well, too. Offhand, I would say that this surround mix is enough to make up for the shortcomings of the video transfer. The sound of patrons chanting various niceties during his fight before the Karate association is well placed enough to make it feel like actually being there. The subwoofer was well used to support the fight sequences and some moments involving bass-heavy sequences such as parts of Bruce's year in traction.
Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story is another example of distributor laziness allowing Australia to suffer some other country's ridiculous censorship laws. Approximately twenty-eight seconds of footage were removed from the UK home video version of the film, and they were not restored when Universal decided to create a Region 4 disc for distribution in this country.
The video quality is good, but the lack of 16x9 Enhancement introduces flaws that deny it reference status.
Aside from an extremely minor quibble with a very small portion of the dialogue, this is a reference-quality audio transfer.
The collection of extras is excellent in quantity, and the quality is mostly a match.
A note to Universal: this disc is denied Hall
Of Fame status only by the fact that you seem to regard 16x9 Enhancement
as being unnecessary for a format that was designed to widen the screen
rather than throw lines out of the image. Smarten your act up or get the
hell out of the market.
|DVD||Toshiba SD-2109, using S-video output|
|Display||Samsung CS-823AMF (80 cm), 16:9 mode/4:3 mode, using composite and S-video inputs|
|Audio Decoder||Built In (Amplifier)|
|Speakers||Panasonic S-J1500D Front Speakers, Sharp CP-303A Back Speakers, Philips FB206WC Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Subwoofer|