Sent to infiltrate the villainous Han (Kien Shih), both a nefarious drug lord and a disgraced former student of their Shaolin Temple, Mr. Lee’s (Bruce Lee) luck finally runs out when he’s captured after a lengthy series of fights and paraded out in front of Han’s men for all to see. When he and another captive Roper (John Saxon) are commanded to fight each other to the death but refuse, leading to Roper’s defeat of the imposing mini-boss Bolo (Bolo Yeung, who’s built like Tom Hardy’s Bane in “The Dark Knight Rises”), all hell breaks loose as Han sends in all of his minions to take out the dual threats once and for all.
What follows is a brilliantly staged exercise in organized chaos. Dozens upon dozens of stuntmen fill every inch of the screen, threatening to overwhelm our senses and cause us to lose track of Bruce Lee amid all the mayhem. Instead, we’re treated to some of the absolute best moments the film has to offer, punctuated by Lee’s primal yells, numerous zoom-ins to capture the martial arts legend’s expressive face, and one of the most thrilling repudiations of the idea that “Less is more.” This sequence is where restraint comes to die, along with hordes of henchmen who have the unfortunate luck to cross paths with a fully unleashed Lee.
It all crescendos when Han himself enters the melee, pulling from his bag of tricks and strapping on a claw hand to give him a leg up over our unstoppable — though never invulnerable — hero. That seemingly minor aspect, however, proves to be the reason why so much of this climactic scene works so well.