Bruce Lee ends up in the underworld after his untimely death, and opens a gym. Unfortunately, his business plans don’t go down too well with the local bad guys, and he becomes involved in their plot to replace the King of Hades with the Exorcist.
Brilliantly demented Bruceploitation insanity that reaches epic levels of silliness on a fairly regular basis. The story begins with Bruce waking up in the court of the King of the Underworld after his death. He has what appears to be a massive erection. Even after it’s revealed to be only his nunchuks, the King’s wives still lust after him, one of them also explaining that ‘people change their appearance after they die’. This is good to know, as none of the famous characters in the cast bear more than a faint resemblance to how we expect them to look.
After his audience with the King, Lee teams up with Popeye the sailor man and Kwai Chang Caine from the ‘Kung Fu’ TV series (not played by David Carradine). Their plans for a quiet life after death are scuppered by the local mob led by The Exorcist (not played by Max Von Sydow). His gang is an interesting bunch and includes The Godfather, James Bond, Dracula, Zatoichi the blind samurai, Emanuelle, and ‘Clint Eastwood’! They try to recruit Bruce to join their gang and participate in their plot to overthrow the King. Instead, he fights them in a series of ridiculously over stylised combat scenes, mostly on cardboard sets. This includes a delirious sequence where he takes on Dracula and his zombies dressed as Kato from ‘The Green Hornet’!
Getting bored? Then let’s throw in some full frontal female nudity as the King’s wives try to get it on with Bruce because of the size of his equipment. This involves a magic potion, a catfight and more obsessing over Bruce’s penis. Emanuelle also gets jiggy with the King in an attempt to induce a heart attack (I thought everyone in the underworld was supposed to be dead already?) but logic is obviously not something that worried these screenwriters too much.
Production values are low, the cameraman appears to be on Ritalin, and there are some superbly unexplained changes of location, courtesy of hacksaw editing. Of course, all this could be completely deliberate, given the nature of the film. It’s hard to tell. I saw a crude ‘pan and scan’ print, with the result that characters are often speaking out of frame, which may not have been the original intention of director Lo Ke (real name Kei Law) but it just adds to the fun.
Cast details are sketchy at best, but our main man is Bruce Leong (real name Siu-Lung Leung Leong), and almost everyone else is hiding behind a pseudonym anyway. We do know that our tuxedo-clad, balding James Bond is Alexander Grand, an American actor who actually had a bit part in a real Bruce Lee movie ‘The Way of the Dragon’ (1973) and appeared in other high quality, related projects such as ‘The Clones of Bruce Lee’ (1980) and ‘Bruce Lee and I’ (1973). The second of these was a Kung Fu vehicle for Little Unicorn, a childhood friend of Lee. The great man turned up on set one day to help with the fight choreography. The producers filmed the session in secret and spliced it into the final film. Such is the world of Bruceploitation cinema!
‘The Dragon Lives Again’ (1977) is a blast for anyone who enjoys trashy, exploitation film. It should have won awards, but I’m not exactly sure what for.