Written by: Michael Den Boer on January 3rd, 2005
|Theatrical Release Date: Hong Kong, December 30th, 1972
Director: Bruce Lee
Writer: Bruce Lee
Cast: Bruce Lee, Nora Miao, Chuck Norris, Jon T. Benn
|Approximate running time:||90 minutes||99 minutes|
|Aspect Ratio:||2.35:1 Non-Anamorphic Widescreen||2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen|
|Sound:||Dolby Digital Mono English||DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 Cantonese|
|Region Coding:||Region 1 NTSC||Region 3 NTSC|
The Film :
Chen Ching Hua (Nora Miao), has inherited a popular Chinese restaurant in Rome. She asks her uncle in Hong Kong for help when evil Mafia Boss (Jon T. Benn) tries to take over her business. An illness prevents her uncle from coming so he sends his friend Tang Lung (Bruce lee) in his place. The Boss sends thugs to take care of Tang, as he quickly disposes them all. When a gunman is sent to take care of Tang in Chen’s apartment Tang thrashes them with his Kung Fu. Chen tries to impress Tang with the wonders of Rome. More Assassins are sent in to get ride of Tang, luckily he brought along his nunchakus to crack their skulls. Chen worried wants Tang to leave for his own protection. Tang fights on even though he is out numbered, he refuses to give up. The final showdown takes place in the Roman Coliseum between lee and Chuck Norris.
Fox’s release lacks definition and there is print damage throughout in the form of artifacts and scratches. The colors are stale and they look like they have seen better days while the flesh tones look to pale. Spectrum’s release boasts strong colors and healthy looking flesh tones through out. The overall transfer is in excellent shape as Spectrum’s release eliminates all the problems that have plagued previous releases. Spectrum’s release also restores footage that had not been included on the Fox DVD. The image during these scenes is not as sharp as the rest of the film. Both releases present the Way of the Dragon in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Spectrum’s release has been given an anamorphic enhancement while Fox’s is non- anamorphic. Just like their previous Bruce Lee releases Fox has cropped the image on their Way of the Dragon (Return of the Dragon) release.
Fox’s release is presented in an English dubbed Dolby Digital mono. Just like their other Bruce Lee tittles the audio it too thin at times and there is problems with hiss and distortion through out. Fox has also included English subtitles on their release. These subtitles are known as dub titles as they are just word for word the English dub translated. Spectrums release comes with the following audio options are available for Way of the Dragon. Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS tracks that both are in the films original Cantonese language. There are portions of English dialog through out the playback of Way of the Dragon. This audio track like the others is relatively clean as the action comes through load and clear. The dialog at times sounds tiny compared to the music and sound effects; still it is easy enough to follow. The DTS audio mix fares a little better then the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. English subtitles that are easy o read and follow have been included. Korean subtitles have also been included.
Fox’s release fails once again to even include the trailer that is listed on the DVD box making this another extra features free DVD from Fox. Spectrum release fares a little better in the extras department with trailers for Fist of Fury, Big Boss and Game of Death as well as the Way of the Dragon’s original trailer and a newly created trailer for this release. Other extras include Bruce Lee stills photo album and Bruce Lee photo slide show each DVD includes still and slideshow gallery.
Spectrum’s release restores about 8 ½ minutes of footage that was cut out for the films U.S. release and it also offers better audio/video and a handful of extras making it the clear winner of the two releases. It is safe to say it is now time to retire your Fox Return of the Dragon DVD. Note: Spectrum’s Big Boss release is only available as part their Bruce Lee collection.