1977, 95 minutes, 35mm
Directed by: Law Kei
Starring: Bruce Leung, Eric Tsang, Tang Ching, Simon Yuen, Alexander
Friday, April 19th at 10:30pm
Sunday, April 21st at 1pm
WARNING: Watching This Movie Will Destroy All You Hold Dear!!! Like Your Sanity!!!!!
Within a year of Bruce Lee dying, everyone was cashing in on his legend with Brucesploitation films featuring lookalikes and imitators. But THE DRAGON LIVES AGAIN is the one Brucesploitation movie to rule them all, the most famously unhinged disaster-piece ever to come out of Hong Kong. The flick begins with Bruce Lee’s corpse popping a woody (Don’t worry it’s just his nunchakus!), then he wakes up in Hell. The King of Hell tells Bruce that he can escape…but only if he fights an army of copyright infringing characters. To come back to life Bruce must battle Dracula! Clint Eastwood! James Bond! The Godfather! Japan’s blind swordsman, Zatoichi! The only character who’s not there is Batman, but his absence is ably filled by an army of skeletons.
Don’t be scared! Bruce has help in the form of Popeye, the spinach-chugging sailorman (played by Hong Kong director and star, Eric Tsang) and Caine from the TV series Kung Fu. With a screenplay apparently written by ten-year-old boys during recess, the insanity gets cranked into overdrive when sexy ladies scream for Bruce (“When a man’s endowed like Bruce,” someone sighs, “the girls are bound to want him.”), and there’s a plot to take over the Underworld that relies on softcore starlette, Hong Kong Emmanuelle, having sex with the King of the Underworld until he dies. You cannot unread these sentences. You cannot unsee this film.
Sensitively made less than 3 years after the real Bruce Lee passed away, THE DRAGON LIVES AGAIN is the brainchild of Goldig, a company best known for its sex films like Jenny and Her Sexy Mother, and Law Kei, a director who would go on to shoot movies like Seven Sexual Maniacs. The whole thing is anchored by Bruce Leung playing Bruce Lee, a gnarly-knuckled monster of a fighter who’d been discovered cracking skulls during street brawls before shooting to fame as a Bruce Lee imitator. To Leung’s credit, he hated this kind of thing, and he’d more than redeem himself in later movies, most recently playing The Beast in Stephen Chow’s Kung Fu Hustle and starring in retro-action crowdpleaser, Gallants.
Starting with a boner joke and ending with Bruce Lee flying away as the cast waves “Goodbye!” no movie will make you question your sanity quite like this one. You will laugh! You will cry! And you will scream as the spirit of Bruce Lee kicks his way out of your stupid skull!
Print provided courtesy of the American Genre Film Archive