Monstervision's Joe Bob Briggs Looks At

Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story (1993)

John Cheung and Jason Scott Lee get ready for some serious chopsocky in the ultimate kung-fu fest

"Joe Bob Goes to the Drive-In" for 11/5/93
By Joe Bob Briggs
Drive-In Movie Critic of Grapevine, Texas

I just spent the last nine hours separating my garbage into piles.
Ask me if I'm happy.
We have this new law that the Sanitation Department can come write you a ticket for 45 bucks if you fails to separate your dirty styrofoam from your groady Head-and-Shoulders bottles. You've gotta go buy a bunch of string and tie it around the newspapers, tape up big stacks of magazines, put the Dr. Pepper cans in a big barrel, but not the same barrel with the Coke bottles. They even have laws about EXACTLY how you're supposed to throw away your phone books. Isn't this getting a little SPECIFIC in the legal-statute department? How often do you throw away a phone book?
ONCE A YEAR, right?
Anyhow, they really do come and write you a 45-dollar ticket if you don't do this, because it's SOOOOOO important that, if we don't do it, the rainforest will die or something. And all the landfills are full of disposable diapers, so this will help us get rid of some of the stink. And they have these factories that can take Dr. Pepper cans and turn em into patio furniture. Or...I DON'T KNOW. I have no idea what they're doing with this stuff, but I do have a few questions about it.

* Numero Uno: If every citizen in the country is spending nine hours stuffing their garbage into color-coded Hefty bags, don't we, like, take a LOT of time away from the economy? I mean, it's not big deal for me, cause I only work about three hours a week, but what about the nine hours we take away from Ross Perot? Shouldn't he be creating three, four new companies in that time?
* Numero Two-o: What about guys that work three jobs and still just make 290 bucks a week? How can you tell em they've gotta take all their dirty Hungry Man frozen dinner containers and sort em out like laundry?
* Numero Three-o: It's fairly easy to write 45-dollar gar-BAHJ tickets in my neighborhood, cause you can tell exactly where one person's trash leaves off and the next one begins. What happens when you go into the slum part of town, where you can't tell the garbage from the furniture? We've got people that have had sofas sitting in their front yards for 38 years. Do you REALLY think they're gonna separate their beer cans from their Twinkie wrappers? And what about a slum high-rise? You can just throw your stuff into ANYBODY's garbage can, and then THEY have to pay the 45 bucks. And nobody in the building even HAS 45 bucks.
In other words, this is never gonna work. I can already tell.
Also, it's NASTY. It gets all over your hands.
I hate it
Can I just PAY the 45 bucks and forget it?

Speaking of things that'll make your head explode, "Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story" finally made it to the drive-in, and I was amazed. I've seen every Bruce Lee flick ever made (yeah, I know, there's only four of em), and I've also seen every movie by Bruce Le, Bruce Li, Bruce Lei, and every other Bruce imitator over the last 20 years. But this guy Jason Scott Lee is incredible. He doesn't REALLY look like Bruce, but after the second scene you THINK he looks like Bruce. He's not really a martial artist, but after the first fight scene, you believe he must have been one of those kids who was a black belt at age six.

But the best thing about this flick is the fight scenes. Instead of doing a straight "Gandhi"-type biopic, or some weird slo-mo artsy-fartsy-fest like Raging Bull, they just took dramatic moments in Bruce's life and staged em like Hong Kong kung fu scenes, complete with comedy acrobatics, sticks, knives, nun-chucks, and a lot of those little noises that Bruce makes like the sound when all the air rushes out of a foam-rubber sofa.

Anyhow, basically what we've got here is the story of a little boy who has nightmares all the time about a giant demon in a spiked helmet, but he learns kung fu, beats up some drunk Australian sailors at the high school dance, flees Hong Kong so he won't have to go to jail, washes dishes in San Francisco's Chinatown, fights a HELLACIOUS comedy fight with four cleaver-throwing fellow dishwashers, beats up four muscle-builders at the WASP college, starts teaching jujitsu to white people, gets in trouble with the Kung Fu Supreme Court for giving away ancient Chinese kung-fu secrets, falls in love with Lauren Holly, and then goes to the movies and gets very sad when he sees Mickey Rooney doing the Chinese guy in "Breakfast at Tiffany's." (Hey, Bruce, lighten up. We ALL hated that.)

So then he writes papers on Hegel, marries Lauren Holly, which really ticks off her mom, fights a giant Kung Fu master who cheats and injures Bruce's spine, wakes up in the hospital, writes his book, goes to Ed Parker's first big karate tournament in Long Beach and gets booed for his theories, and proves his theories by beating the crapola out of the guy who injured his spine. This gets him his first job, as Kato on The Green Hornet, a 60s Batman spin-off, but evil producer Robert Wagner promises him his own series, called "Kung Fu," but when it's time to make it, he gives the part to David Carradine. So Bruce gets very bitter and goes to Hong Kong and becomes a big movie star over there, and fights with his wife, and becomes a workaholic, and then Robert Wagner shows up again, and he offers Bruce the part in Enter the Dragon, and Bruce takes it, and has a reunion with his family, and does the big mirror scene, and starts hallucinating about the demon again, and then his head explodes.

It's great. I highly recommend it. The fight scenes alone are worth the whole ticket-price enchilada.

One dead body. (You know who.)
Hot-water scalding.
Flaming character actor.
Gratuitous Nancy Kwan.
Nine great Kung Fu sequences, including one where Bruce trashes his own house.
Demon Fu.
Drive-In Academy Award nominations for Sven-Ole Thorsen, as the huge demon with a sword who appears out of blue smoke and beats up on Bruce;
Lauren Holly, as Bruce's wife, for saying "Stop whining and start fighting" and getting pregnant every time the plot needs it;
Michael Learned, as Linda's bigot mom, for saying "The world needs hamburgers--it doesn't need judo";
Rob Cohen, the director, for doing it the drive-in way; and, of course, Jason Scott Lee, for saying "Be like water"
and "Emotion can be the enemy"
and "It's not strength that matters, it's focus"
and "I'll beat any man in this room in 60 seconds."
Four stars.
Joe Bob says check it out.


Victory Over Communism! The Bass Hill Drive-In in Sydney, Australia, still packs em in under the kindly management of David Calcott, who runs the two-screen, ten-hectare establishment as though it were his own back yard. William Boyle of Rapid City, S.D., reminds us that, with eternal vigilance, the drive-in will never die. To discuss the meaning of life with Joe Bob, or to get free junk in the mail and his world-famous newsletter, "The Joe Bob Report," write Joe Bob Briggs, P.O. Box 2002, Dallas, TX 75221. Joe Bob's Fax line is always open: 214-368-2310.

Dear Joe Bob:
I haven't written to you in a long time (remember me?--I'm the horror novelist), and I feel bad about that because you were kind enough to take the time to write to me several times in the past. But, I HAVE been reading your column, and it's your column about which I am writing. In it, you talk about what happens when a friend becomes born again. I know exactly what you're talking about, but I want you to know that not all Christians are like that. I am a devoted, praying, regularly Bible-opening Christian, and I think you're great. I know a lot of others who do, too. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people out there who think being a Christian means you have to give up laughing at ANYTHING (except maybe Rush Limbaugh--shudder--shudder--shudder!). I think God, in all of His austerity, has a twinkle in His eye and probably a very good sense of humor. He made duck-billed platypuses, penguins . . . and Ross Perot. And four years ago, Pat Robertson claimed that God had told him to run for president. Now, I'm sure God had nothing at all to do with that, but I bet He had a few laughs over it. Don't worry, there are others out there like me. We may value our faith tremendously and love God even more, but we're perfectly happy to be around--and to LIKE--those who feel differently; and, although we're happy to share our beliefs with others, we would NEVER consider PUSHING them. Just wanted you to know we're not all stuffy, hellfire-and-brimstone-spouting folks like the one in your column.
All the best,
Ray Garton
Redding, Calif.

Dear Ray:
I understand that most people who claim to be born-again Christians actually practice the opposite of what the J-Man taught--namely, forgiveness, tolerance, love. But what ticks me off is the in-your-face conversion tactics. Any time I have said to one of these guys, "You are USING ME to make yourself righteous," they have gone away. Isn't this what it comes down to?

Joe Bob,
Here's a lyric to a song I wrote that I thought you'd appreciate. Sort of like an anthem, don't you think? Anyhow, hope you get a grin out of it at least.
Video Junkie
I'm just a video junkie
Watchin' those funky old grade "Z" stories
The sleazy 'n' the gory, the kind that some deplore because they're not PG
The ones that have a damsel in distress
Without 'dis dress--or little else for that matter
Clearly showing their dimensions
Not to mention their intentions
A femme fatale to enhance the view
With Brinke, Monique, Michelle and Linnea too
From vamp to tramp to campy vixen
They're quite a crew of shady ladies
* Yes I'm a video junkie
Got a VHS monkey on my back, Jack
And that's a matter of fact
And there ain't no cure, that's for sure
'Cause I got a real fixation on watchin exploitation
And if you're askin' me to provide an explanation
Well all I can say is I like what I see
'Cause I'm a video junkie and that's hunky-dory with me
Now it may sound funny
But I spend my money rentin' six or seven at a time
I've seen so many now I feel that I'm
Qualified to quote 'em line by line
Of course the simple truth is
The plots are just excuses
To showcase what we junkies expect
Just a dash of mayhem, a little bit of plot
And a whole lot of you know what
* Yes, I'm a video junkie, etc.
'Cause I'm a video junkie and that's hunky-dory with me
Take care,
George Gagliardi

Dear George:
I don't know. It needs SOMETHING. Maybe a Charlie Daniels fiddle part or some Pam Tillis back-up vocals. SOMETHING.

Hi Joe Bob,
Just wanted to drop you a line and thank you for the delightful compliment in your review of "They Bite." I was Melody Duncan, the "beautiful brunette ichthyologist" you referred to! My husband really enjoys reading your hilarious weekly drive-in fu review and is even more thrilled that his wife was in one. Thanks again!
Donna Frotscher

Dear Donna:
You were probly the most fetching ichthyologist I've ever had the chance to review.

Joe Bob:
There's the gourmet mustard that acts as a diuretic--it makes you go to Dijon!
Husband: "I had a nightmare where my wife turned into a centipede and I had to keep it in pantyhose."
Consensual sex: Bedroom ayes.
There's a girl in the hat factory who claimed sexual harassment--she was always getting felt.
Cross Pee Wee Herman with Ma Bell--you get Reach Out and Touch Yourself!
Pee Wee Herman now has a video cassette: "Look ma! One hand!"
Shelby Friedman

Dear Shelby:
Was that really necessary?
Don't answer that.

Dear Joe Bob,
I am writing to you finally because I am continually amazed at the quality of your writing. I'm not talking about your movie reviews, which I read all the time and find quite hilarious (usually). But what really strikes me is your ability to write acid-etched social commentary that is right on the mark. I'm thinking specifically of your recent article about the Klan as well as others on AIDS, the Kennedys' racism and others. It's obvious you are not just a movie critic but an exceptional writer of note and I hope to continue to read what you have to say. Your article on the Klan was right on. It reminded me of an old saying at the commune I used to live at, "What you put your attention into, you get more off." If the media and others just unplugged from these dudes maybe they would disappear. Anyway, enough babbling, keep up your good works. Your article on the Kennedy's was a classic. Good luck.
David Friedlander

Dear David:
You used to live in a commune, and you're writing ME a letter?
Maybe there's hope yet.
Preciate it, bud.

© 1993 Joe Bob Briggs All Rights Reserved

For more of Joe Bob's pre-TNT reviews in Grapevine, Texas, go to his Drive-In Reviews Archive over yonder at www.Joe Bob

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Joe Bob's review of the excellent Enter The Dragon

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