We don't expect much from our martial arts movies. A shallow plot (you killed my father/master/mother/wife/dog/cat, so now I'm going to kill you/your father/master/mother/wife/dog/cat) is acceptable so long as there are some serious ass kickings along the way.
You'd think it'd be a hard formula to screw up. You'd be so wrong.
5The Dragon Lives Again
The movies following Bruce Lee's death filled a void for fans robbed too soon of their hero, even if they were uniformly awful. So maybe some of them can be forgiven for the incredibly classy move of cashing in on his death by trotting out imitators such as Bruce Li, Bruce Le and Dragon Lee. But not all of them; not The Dragon Lives Again. Here's the first reason why: This movie isn't about an actor playing a "Bruce Lee" like role. This movie is about Bruce Lee--the actual guy, not a character he played--dying and going to hell.
It begins with his corpse (played by Bruce Leung) getting a boner.
Sure, it turns out that it's really just his nunchucks (happens to us all the time) and the intention is to make us laugh, but when you consider that the actual Bruce Lee only died a few years prior to The Dragon Lives Again, you've got to wonder if the most respectful way to honor his legacy is casket-boner jokes. Actually, you don't have to wonder about that at all.
It quickly gets much, much worse. After showing up in Hell he goes to a bar and meets Popeye (you heard us), Clint Eastwood, James Bond and Kwai Chang Caine (David Carradine from Kung Fu--so now there's twice the sacrilege!).
It's an all-star cast! Of blasphemy!
In the next scene, Bruce utters an apology to his wife Linda (Bruce Lee's real wife) for "play[ing] around just too much." A female character next to him excuses his behavior, saying "When a man's endowed like Bruce, the girls are bound to want him. He's got to have his fun, eh Bruce-e?"
Yup, that's an adultery joke at the expense of the recently deceased. We'd say that's a dick move, but maybe Linda Lee got some much needed closure from that onscreen apology for her dead husband's never confirmed, rumored adultery, from a guy who sort of looks like Bruce in a movie made by people exploiting his name for money. We think that's the fourth step in grieving, right?
Step five is naked tea parties.
The rest of this atrocity focuses on Bruce's time in the underworld, in which he outlaws gambling for some reason, and starts training everybody in the martial arts... including Popeye. Then he almost gets a blowjob from Emmanuelle, a softcore porn character from the 70s (sorry, Linda, looks like his previous apology wasn't even sincere!) For his last trick, Bruce beats up Dracula, James Bond, Clint Eastwood, the Exorcist and the Godfather. One threat to the King of the Underworld later and Bruce Lee's sent back to Earth. The Dragon lives again. Get it? The end.
Somehow Chinese Popeye makes the most sense in all of this.