Director: Chin Ku Lu
Actors: Ron Van Clief, Charles Bonet, Phillip Ko
The Black Dragon’s Revenge aka Death of Bruce Lee was one of many movies that surfaced after the sudden death of Bruce Lee on July 20th, 1973. A new genre of martial arts film would soon be born known as “Brucesploitation” in an attempt to grab box office sales with anything linked to the name Bruce lee. Yes, it seems sleazy & yes, the Hong Kong film industry wanted to leech on this for obvious reasons. They seized the opportunity to quench the thirst of fans with the fascination of the man, the myth, the legend of the diminuitive one. The production of some of these movies are quite frankenstein-esque, but it’s the formula of train wrecks in film that when it’s so bad, it makes it so good! This movie does NOT recreate a clone of Bruce Lee, but instead tells a tale of the speculation of the Little Dragon’s death. The Black Dragon, a hired gun from the USA is recruited to try and piece the puzzle together of who, what, why, & how Bruce died. He tag teams and karate kicks with another compatriot played by Charles Bonet. Upon the Black Dragon’s investigations in Hong Kong, he runs into a myriad of obstacles that hinders his search.
The Black Dragon character is played by the real life BLACK DRAGON himself, New York martial arts legend, RON VAN CLIEF. Bruce Lee had dubbed Van Clief as the Black Dragon upon their encounters in the late 60’s! Grandmaster Clief has been a big proponent of Goju-Ryu Karate in NYC since the 1960’s. He studied with the grandfather of NYC martial arts, Moses Powell as well as other famous teachers like Peter Urban & Wing Chun’s Leung Ting. He went on to develop his own hybrid style of fighting called Chinese Goju. Hanshi Charles Bonet who plays the Black Dragon’s sidekick in the film is also another big force in the NYC martial arts scene since the 1960’s. Bonet is of puerto rican descent and spent his time in the Bronx and Spanish Harlem. He was known as the “White Dragon” in the martial arts world. It seemed like the NYC martial arts community developed alot of badass mofos in the 1960’s-1980’s! The drug infested streets, poverty, grit, grime & crime of NYC helped bred a generation of tough, no nonsense individuals. Another common denominator with these two NYC fighting legends is that they both served in the military. Van Clief & Bonet are militiary & NYC street combat approved!
The martial arts action by these two in the film are fast & furious! I can tell you it’s raw with no special effects of any sorts. It’s the pure action of whoopass from these urban artists which manifests itself through the extension of their hands & feet whole heartedly without being tampered with from technology that makes these movies such a gem! Go check this film out in your nearest grindhouse theatre…or bootleg enclave!
The Black Dragon, Ron Van Clief , although relocated to the Virgin Islands, still has a New York state of mind. He conducts seminars & runs classes on the weekend on the beach!
The White Dragon, Hanshi Charles Bonet no longer resides in New York, but the nuyorican in him & his voice can never be denied. He has been teaching his Shorin-Kai International system in Arizona for at least a decade now.