Bruce Lee not only starred in this martial arts movie from 1972 but he wrote, produced and directed it as well, not to mention he also handled the fight choreography. The Way Of The Dragon is mostly remembered for its intense climax in which Lee faces Chuck Norris in the Colosseum.
The plot is pretty typical for the genre: a Chinese restaurant is struggling to bring in customers due to an intimidating gang pressuring the owner to sell to their boss by causing mayhem so Bruce Lee is called in to help get rid of the bad guys for good. Along the way, he inspires the staff to work on their Kung-Fu and the one girl is, of course, kidnapped at some point. We first meet Bruce Lee as he lands in Rome where he is instantly like a fish-out-of-water due to the language barrier and the people's odd reactions to him. It's a surprisingly awkward opening sequence as an old woman stares at him as if hypnotised and Lee orders like six soups in a restaurant by mistake, causing him to ask for the bathroom multiple times. It's interesting to see how the film goes out of its way to first paint Lee as a normal, clumsy guy only to then show him kick a whole lot of butt.
The story does include some unexpected twists near the end so it's not all predictable. Besides, it's the fight scenes you want to see and, indeed, those steal the show. Whether Bruce Lee is showing off his nunchuck skills, throwing wooden darts at people across the room or taking on ten guys without any weapons, every time Lee takes his shirt off you know you're in for an awesome fight. What the other characters lack in personality, Bruce Lee more than makes up for in charisma and fast-paced martial arts skills. The villains are about as cartoonish as you'd expect, especially the main mobster's giggling henchman, although Chuck Norris' end fight scene is shot as seriously and epically as possible. This is one of the most memorable moments in any Bruce Lee film and it's easy to see why: the build-up, the setting, the intensity, the brutal denouement: it's a perfect sequence.
The Way Of The Dragon may not be Bruce Lee's best film but it's certainly a good one to start with. It looks dated and can be very predictable at times but the fights are so fun and Lee himself is so charming and cool that it simply doesn't matter.
Check it out.