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Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story

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Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story

Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Rob Cohen
Produced by Raffaella De Laurentiis
Rick Nathanson
John Badham
Screenplay by Rob Cohen
John Raffo
Edward Khmara
Based on Bruce Lee: The Beginning 
by Robert Clouse
Bruce Lee: The Man Only I Knew 
by Linda Lee Cadwell
Starring Jason Scott Lee
Lauren Holly
Robert Wagner
Music by Randy Edelman
Cinematography David Eggby
Edited by Peter Amundson
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release dates
  • May 7, 1993 (1993-05-07)
Running time
120 minutes
Country United States
Language English
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 (no relation), Lauren Holly and Robert Wagner. The film was released in the United States on May 7, 1993.

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


  • Plot 1
  • Cast 2
  • Production 3
    • Deleted scenes (UK) 3.1
  • Reception 4
    • Box office 4.1
  • Soundtrack 5
  • Legacy 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


The film begins with a nightmare of Bruce Lee's father (Ric Young), who sees a terrifying phantom (Sven-Ole Thorsen) in black samurai armor that haunts the young Bruce Lee (Sam Hau). Bruce is shown as a child receiving instruction in traditional Chinese martial arts in a montage that passes quickly through his teenage years in Hong Kong. As a young adult, Bruce (Jason Scott Lee) becomes involved in a fight with British sailors (who are harassing a young Chinese woman) and this results in him having to leave Hong Kong because of the incident. His father suggests that Bruce go to the US, since he was actually born in San Francisco when his father was on a tour there and has a US birth certificate. His father asks Bruce to become a success, so big a success that his name will be famous even back in Hong Kong.

In the US Bruce starts off working as a dishwasher at a Chinese restaurant, where he becomes involved in a fight with some of the staff, and he fends them off until the restaurant owner (Nancy Kwan) arrives and fires Bruce. As well as severance she gives him an all-purpose loan and convinces him to use the money to invest in a future with education. At a university, he begins to teach martial arts classes, and during these classes he meets Linda Emery (Lauren Holly), and the two begin dating. They eventually marry in defiance of Linda's racist mother. Linda suggests that Bruce open up a martial arts training school, which he does, but some other Chinese martial arts schools feel that he should not train non-Chinese. They challenge him to fight Johnny Sun (John Cheung) to resolve the issue. Bruce wins the fight but Sun attacks Bruce from behind after the fight is over, resulting in a serious back injury.

While immobilized and recovering Bruce and Linda quarrel of why he did not tell her about this duel, but she furiously rejects his despairing assumption that she will abandon him because of this injury. To give his recovery time purpose, Linda coaxes him to examine the weaknesses of his combat technique, which leads to him developing the fight philosophy of Jeet Kune Do while she helps him write "The Tao of Jeet Kune Do." During this period Linda gives birth to their first child, Brandon, and he is the key for the couple to reconcile with Linda's mother (Michael Learned). Later at Ed Parker's martial arts tournament, Bruce has been challenged by Johnny Sun, this time in a 60-second demonstration of his new fighting style. Johnny Sun appears to have the upper hand in the first half of the match but then Bruce recovers and ends up kicking Sun over the top rope.

After the match, Bruce meets Bill Krieger (Robert Wagner) 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, Shannon. Shortly afterwards, there is an announcement for the cancellation of The Green Hornet. Kung Fu makes it onto television, but starring David Carradine and not Bruce.

Bruce travels back home for his father's funeral and whilst in the country is approached by Philip Tan (Kay Tong Lim), a Hong Kong film producer. He says that Bruce is well known in Hong Kong and that The Green Hornet show is called The Kato Show there. Bruce begins work on the feature film The Big Boss. In the filming of the final scene, set in an ice factory, the brother of Johnny Sun attacks Bruce, wanting revenge. Bruce successfully defends himself against the attack. The Big Boss is a success and 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 States. Bill 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, which Bruce decides to do, particularly as Linda wishes to return to the States.

On the 32nd day of shooting Enter the Dragon, and in the middle of filming the climactic "room of mirrors" sequence, Bruce has a vision of himself fighting and defeating the phantom that haunted his childhood. At the end, he decides to walk off of the set and go home to see his family. The film ends during a shot of the final scene of Enter the Dragon, with a voice-over by Linda informing the audience of his death before the movie's release, and her preferred choice to discuss his 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)

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, in particular the scenes in the Lantern Festival dance party in Hong Kong where a British sailor who abuses a woman, is confronted by Bruce Lee,[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 can not see Bruce Lee fighting with the nunchaku weapon.


The film received generally positive reviews,[14][15][16] with a rating of 83% on RottenTomatoes, based on 18 reviews counted.[17]

Box office

The film debuted at #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
Genre Soundtrack
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic [20]

The soundtrack for Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story was composed by Randy Edelman. Randy 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. and the MGs.[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". The Los Angeles Times. 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. ^ "Timecop 2: The Berlin Decision".  
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  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". Washington Post. May 7, 1993. Retrieved September 21, 2010. 
  16. ^ "Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story". Chicago Sun Times. Retrieved September 21, 2010. 
  17. ^
  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. ^ Allmusic review
  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". New York Times. Retrieved March 18, 2010. 

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