A lot or a little?
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story is a biographical drama loosely based on the life of world-famous martial artist Bruce Lee and contains violence and some racist language. The movie carries a positive message overall, as Bruce Lee (Jason Scott Lee) travels to America and succeeds as a result of his hard work and martial arts prowess. Lee and his White love interest -- and later wife -- Linda (Lauren Holly) are vocal opponents of the racism they face because of their relationship. Linda also inspires Lee to overcome adversity when he is at his lowest ebb. Violence features throughout. Lee fights various attackers -- some of whom are armed with weapons -- which often results in bloody injuries. After one altercation, Lee requires a lengthy stay in hospital and a period of rehabilitation. There are two sex scenes between Lee and Linda. Both are shown topless from the back as they hug and kiss. They later sit on their bed together in their underwear and talk. Occasional swearing features, along with racist language throughout. "Yellow" is frequently used as a slur for Asians, along with "Chink" and "gook." There is minor consumerism -- some extravagant spreads are shown at social gatherings, and Lee is encouraged to spend money on material goods, as well as women.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
DRAGON: THE BRUCE LEE STORY is a biopic inspired by Bruce Lee's journey to America where he seeks fame and fortune. Starting his new life as a dish-washer, Lee (Jason Scott Lee) encounters much racism -- especially when he becomes involved with his eventual wife, Linda (Lauren Holly) -- but manages to rise up and become an iconic martial artist and movie star.
Is it any good?
A one-sided remembrance of an iconic martial artist with several storytelling liberties taken along the way, Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story has still clearly been made by those close to its subject. Lee is shown as heroic and noble throughout, overcoming the obstacles life throws at him with a mixture of martial arts prowess, righteousness, and good humor. Perhaps influenced by this, director Rob Cohen wastes no time dialing up a subplot involving a demon, along with "movie fight" sound effects and staging, so that every altercation becomes a set piece, occasionally echoing moments from Lee's short-lived but influential Hollywood career.
The movie's stars, Scott Lee (no relation to Bruce) and Holly, lead by example by throwing themselves into both the movie's mellow dramatic moments and its over-the-top fight scenes. Despite some creaking dialogue elsewhere, the movie's finest moments occur when it calls out the racism that blighted Lee's return to the U.S. and his interracial relationship with his wife. As long as you're not looking for 100 percent historical accuracy, this is a good-natured action movie that literally packs a punch.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the violence in Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story. Do the violent scenes help tell the story in an effective way? Is it shocking or thrilling? Why? Does exposure to violent media desensitize kids to violence?
Discuss some of the racism Bruce Lee and Lauren encounter. Why do you think some of the characters feel threatened by their relationship? Do you think they would be treated differently today?
How does the movie portray sex. Is it affectionate? Respectful? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding sex and relationships.
The movie is only loosely based on Bruce Lee's life. Why is it important to be aware of the difference between fact and fiction? How to spot fake news (and teach kids to be media-savvy).
How much did you know about Bruce Lee before this movie? Would you like to learn more?
- In theaters: October 22, 1993
- On DVD or streaming: April 19, 2016
- Cast: Jason Scott Lee, Lauren Holly, Robert Wagner
- Director: Rob Cohen
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts, History
- Character strengths: Perseverance, Self-control
- Run time: 119 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: martial arts violence and sensuality
- Last updated: March 2, 2021
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