The Black Dragon’s Revenge (1975)

Posted in Reviews by - November 05, 2017
The Black Dragon’s Revenge (1975)

A pretty decent showcase for US karate ace Ron Van Clief, launched into the movie business by producer Serafim Karalexis who apparently made up the story to this movie on the plane ride over to Hong Kong. That might explain why its riddled with plot holes. It’s blaxploitation meets Bruceploitation as Ron Van Clief (aka ‘the Black Dragon’, here playing a version of himself) meets up with his taekwondo buddy Charles Bonet to investigate the death of his friend Bruce Lee. Ron did actually meet Bruce Lee in the 1960s, and much of the film feels strangely prescient considering the mood in Hong Kong only a year or so after his sudden death. We see shots of Queen Elizabeth Hospital where Lee was pronounced dead, and there are scenes shot at the same iconic locations where Enter the Dragon was filmed. A local kung fu school are also shown to be investigating the celebrity death, and even if the film does not explicitly link it to a murder case, it at least implies as much. They find a well-known actress called Miss Tang who was with Lee the night he died, and although uncooperative, she is shown to have mob ties, which leads a drug boss to send the heavies after them. The film stops short of providing any form of conclusion, and instead Van Clief – plus Jason Pai Piao and Yuen Qiu – are forced to take out the baddies and a mad snake lady, although no sense of motive is ever revealed. It’s another cathartic experiment in adding closure to Lee’s death which is clearly exploitative but also quite fascinating. Plus, you get to see Clief in his karate prime, performing katas and demonstrating his awesome skills with sai swords.

AKA: The Black Dragon Revenges the Death of Bruce Lee; Death of Bruce Lee; Revenge of the Black Dragon.

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Editor and creator of Kung Fu Movie Guide and the host of the Kung Fu Movie Guide Podcast. I live behind a keyboard in London, UK.

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