Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story

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Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRob Cohen
Produced byRaffaella De Laurentiis
Rick Nathanson
Dan York
Screenplay byRob Cohen
John Raffo
Edward Khmara
Based onBruce Lee: The Beginning
by Robert Clouse
Bruce Lee: The Man Only I Knew
by Linda Lee Cadwell
Music byRandy Edelman
CinematographyDavid Eggby
Edited byPeter Amundson
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • May 7, 1993 (1993-05-07)
Running time
120 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$14 million[1]
Box office$63.5 million[2]

Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story is a 1993 American biographical drama film written and directed by Rob Cohen, and starring Jason Scott Lee, Lauren Holly and Robert Wagner. The film was released in the United States on May 7, 1993. It received positive reviews and was a commercial success.

The film tells the story of actor and martial artist Bruce Lee.[3][4] Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story was dedicated to Brandon Lee, who died five weeks earlier while performing in his last film, The Crow.[1]


The film begins with a nightmare of Bruce Lee's father, who sees a terrifying phantom known as the Demon in black samurai armor that haunts the young Bruce Lee. In a montage that passes quickly through his teenage years in Hong Kong, Bruce is shown receiving instruction in traditional Chinese martial arts. As a young adult, Bruce fights with British sailors harassing a young Chinese woman, and this results in him having to leave Hong Kong. His father suggests that Bruce go to the USA — Bruce was actually born in San Francisco, California, when his father was a performer touring there and so Bruce has a U.S. birth certificate. His father asks Bruce to become a success, so that his name will be famous even back in Hong Kong.

In America, Bruce works as a dishwasher at a Chinese restaurant, until a violent brawl with four of the cooks. The restaurant owner arrives and fires Bruce. As well as severance, she gives him an "all-purpose loan" and exhorts him to invest in an education. While studying philosophy in college, he begins to teach martial arts classes, where he meets Linda Emery. They marry in defiance of Linda's racist mother. Linda suggests that Bruce open a martial arts school, but his Chinese peers demand he not train "blacks or Americans" and challenge him to settle the matter via combat. Bruce defeats Johnny Sun in a secretive, illegal, no-holds-barred honor match, but an embittered Sun attacks Bruce after having already admitted defeat. Sun's cowardly, vengeful attack results in a seriously debilitating back injury for Lee.

Linda is upset that Bruce did not tell her about the match. However, she nurtures him through his recovery, despite his despair and assumption that she will abandon him. She convinces him to examine his flaws and weaknesses and thus develop the fighting philosophy of Jeet Kune Do, which is published in The Tao of Jeet Kune Do. During this period Linda gives birth to their first child, Brandon, which helps to assuage a reconciliation with Linda's mother.

Some months later, during Ed Parker's martial arts tournament, Bruce is challenged by Johnny Sun, in a 60-second demonstration of his new fighting style. Johnny Sun appears to have the upper hand in the first half minute, but then Bruce dominates and humiliates Sun, finishing by kicking him over the top rope into the crowd. Bruce is subsequently praised by the crowd.

After the match, Bruce meets Bill Krieger and is hired for The Green Hornet television series. Bruce and Bill work together and create the idea for the Kung Fu television series. At a cast party, Linda says she is now pregnant with their second child. Shortly afterwards, there is an announcement for the cancellation of The Green Hornet. Kung Fu makes it to television, but much to Bruce's frustration, it stars David Carradine, a Caucasian. Bruce believes that Krieger has betrayed him.

Bruce returns to Hong Kong for his father's funeral, where Philip Tan, a Hong Kong film producer, informs Bruce of his fame there, where The Green Hornet show is called The Kato Show. Bruce begins work on the feature film The Big Boss. In the filming of the final scene, set in an ice factory, Johnny Sun's brother Luke attacks Bruce, wanting revenge, but Bruce emerges victorious.

The Big Boss is a success. Bruce makes several more films, working as actor, director and editor. This causes a rift between Bruce and Linda, as she wishes to return to the U.S. Krieger shows up, and although he knows that Bruce is still angry with him, he offers him a chance to work on a big-budget Hollywood movie, particularly as Linda wishes to return to the States.

On the 32nd day of shooting Enter the Dragon, during the climactic "room of mirrors" sequence, Bruce has a terrifying vision of the phantom samurai that has haunted his own father's dreams. However, this time, being shown and beaten against his own grave, Bruce sees his son in his dream urging him to save him. The demonic warrior begins to go after Brandon as its next victim, spurring Bruce to fight back. He saves his son Brandon and breaks the dark warrior's neck. The film ends during a shot of the final scene of Enter the Dragon, the film that would make Lee an international film star. Linda informs the audience that Bruce died before the movie's release, and goes on to state that she has preferred to discuss Bruce Lee's life, not his death.



The film is based upon the biography Bruce Lee: The Man Only I Knew, written by Linda Lee Cadwell, Bruce Lee's widow.[4]

The role for Bruce Lee was first offered to his real-life son Brandon Lee, who declined. Brandon Lee died in a shooting accident while filming for the film The Crow in March 1993, less than two months before this film's release.[8] The film is dedicated to his memory at the end credits. In the film Brandon was portrayed as a child by Iain M. Parker.

To prepare for their roles both lead actors Jason Scott Lee and Lauren Holly trained in Bruce Lee's Martial Arts style of Jeet Kune Do for months under former Lee student-turned-instructor Jerry Poteet.[9][10] Jason Scott Lee continued to train in Jeet Kune Do under Poteet up until Poteet's death in 2012.

Jerry Poteet also portrayed himself in the film, he can be seen in the background of many scenes. Van Williams, who played The Green Hornet in the 1960s TV series of the same name appears as the director of The Green Hornet in this film. Bruce Lee's daughter, Shannon Lee, has a cameo appearance as a singer in the party scene (singing "California Dreamin'"), at which Linda tells Bruce she is pregnant for the second time – carrying Shannon.

The tombstone that Bruce is forced to see when confronting his demon towards the end of film is the actual tombstone of Bruce Lee. The picture on it is different from the one that is actually on the real one but the date of birth, date of death and the epitaph are the same.

Deleted scenes (UK)[edit]

Scenes from Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story were deleted by British authorities, ostensibly to meet age-rating prior to its release in the United Kingdom. The Lantern Festival dance party in Hong Kong (in which a British sailor who abuses a woman is confronted by Bruce Lee) was removed,[11][12][13] and the fight between Bruce Lee and his inner demon near the end of the film was shortened in a way that viewers cannot see Bruce Lee fighting with nunchaku, due to visual depictions of nunchaku being illegal at the time. The scene stops with the demon's mouthplate expelling spikes.


The film received positive reviews,[14][15][16] with a rating of 71% on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 21 reviews counted.[17]

Box office[edit]

The film debuted at No. 1 at the box office.[18][19] The film had a domestic gross of $35,113,743, with an additional $28,400,000 earned in foreign territories. The film grossed $63,513,743 worldwide.[2]


Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story
Soundtrack album by
Randy Edelman
Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic2/5 stars[20]

The soundtrack for Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story was composed by Randy Edelman. Edelman's soundtrack is best known for its use in film trailers, particularly the love theme "Bruce and Linda" and "The Premiere of the Big Boss".[21]

The uncredited song playing during the kitchen fight scene at the beginning of the film is "Green Onions" by Booker T. & the M.G.'s.[22]


A video game of the same name was released in the mid 1990s to various consoles.

In the film The Fast and the Furious, Dragon was on Dominic Toretto's television during a scene in his house. Both films are directed by Rob Cohen.


  1. ^ a b Chase, Donald (October 25, 1992). "Re-Enter the Dragon". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 21, 2010.
  2. ^ a b Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story at Box Office Mojo
  3. ^ Weinraub, Bernard (April 15, 1993). "Bruce Lee's Brief Life Being Brought to Screen". The New York Times. Retrieved December 14, 2010.
  4. ^ a b Higgins, Bill (April 30, 1993). "A Film Premiere Tempered by Loss : Memories: Brandon Lee's death made the opening of Bruce Lee's bio a poignant event. But the elder Lee's widow said it was a tribute to both". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 3, 2010.
  5. ^ Rainer, Peter (May 7, 1993). "'Dragon,' Jason Scott Lee: They Have the Chops : The biopic depicts a larger-than-life Bruce Lee. The actor playing him meets the challenge and proves himself a star in the making". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 3, 2010.
  6. ^ Christon, Lawrence (May 2, 1993). "Shadow of the Dragon : It wasn't easy finding an actor to play martial arts god Bruce Lee, but Jason Scott Lee found the key to the man behind the flying fists". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 3, 2010.
  7. ^ Galbraith, Jane (May 16, 1993). "A Look inside Hollywood and the movies : Cameo Corner : Green Hornet Pays Homage to His Kato". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on December 20, 2016. Retrieved December 7, 2010.
  8. ^ Chase, Donald (October 25, 1992). "Re-Enter the Dragon". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 21, 2010.
  9. ^ "Bruce Lee's Brief Life Being Brought to Screen". The New York Times. April 15, 1993. Retrieved December 14, 2010.
  10. ^ Reid, Craig (July 2, 2010). "Timecop 2: The Berlin Decision". Cinefantastique. Archived from the original on May 1, 2016. Retrieved December 7, 2010.
  11. ^ "Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story - Dance Hall Fight". fightscenewiki.org.[permanent dead link]
  12. ^ "Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story: Trivia". IMDb.com. Internet Movie Database.
  13. ^ "Fighting the Sailors Scene from Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story (1993)". movieclips.com. 2012. Archived from the original on 2012-08-23. Retrieved 2012-10-05.
  14. ^ Canby, Vincent (May 7, 1993). "Review/Film; Recalling The King Of Kung Fu". The New York Times. Retrieved December 14, 2010.
  15. ^ "Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story". The Washington Post. May 7, 1993. Retrieved September 21, 2010.
  16. ^ Ebert, Roger (May 7, 1993). "Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story". Chicago Sun Times. Retrieved September 21, 2010.
  17. ^ "Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story (1993)". RottenTomatoes.com. Fandango. Retrieved December 6, 2017.
  18. ^ Citron, Alan (May 11, 1993). "'Bruce' and 'Dave's' Excellent Box Office". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 26, 2010.
  19. ^ Fox, David J. (May 11, 1993). "Weekend Box Office : 'Dragon' Makes 'Dave' Vice President". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 6, 2011.
  20. ^ Review of Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story Soundtrack at Allmusic
  21. ^ Appelo, Tim (May 14, 1993). "Tears of the Dragon". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved December 7, 2010.
  22. ^ Sella, Marshall (July 28, 2002). "The 150-Second Sell, Take 34". The New York Times. Retrieved March 18, 2010.

External links[edit]