Bullet Points: Golden Dragon, Silver Snake
1980’s Golden Dragon, Silver Snake had a much different vibe than any of the other Dragon Lee movies I have previously experienced.
The movie was not completely devoid of the Bruceploitation elements that most Dragon Lee movies were known for (they still managed to get Dragon Lee into a yellow jumpsuit and doing some of the Bruce mannerisms). But with more humor, props and an overall goofiness Golden Dragon, Silver Snake felt more like a Jackie Chan movie than a Bruceploitation film…
- Enter the Dragon: Golden Dragon (Dragon Lee) takes a trip to investigate the mysterious death of his brother. Dragon believes his brother Han was killed by some of the local gangsters after learning Han was refusing to pay protection money to them and trying to rally some of the other members of the community to do the same. Dragon goes undercover and gets a job as a cook at a local restaurant to get a lay of the land and learn who all the movers and shakers in town are and ultimately learn who killed his brother and bring them to justice. It isn’t long before Dragon gets into it with a trio of motorcycle riding gangsters who come into the restaurant looking for payment… this is where we see the most Bruce like fight by Dragon in the entire movie.
- Enter the Snake: Silver Snake (Wang Dae-wi) has had a run in with the motorcycle trio and their gangster underboss after the bad guys showed up at the farm Snake works for looking to buy the land from Xiu Lin, the beautiful young lady who inherited the farm from her parents, so they can turn it into a resort. So when Silver Snake meets Golden Dragon while making a delivery of milk and eggs to the restaurant Dragon works at, it doesn’t take them long to bond over their common enemy and they do so by doing a whole variety show bit that involves egg tricks and they never break a single one! Dragon and Snake decide to join forces to take on the mob, but first they find themselves a Kung Fu master (often referred to as Rickshaw Man) who happened to be a friend of Dragon’s late brother Han.
- Box of Gimmicks: Golden Dragon, Silver Snake is full of gaga…There’s the mysterious big boss in the shadows and his pet cat (the boss’ identity is not revealed until the end at it is a bit of a shocker)… There’s the underboss with a hat that he throws up into the air and it turns into a net to catch up Silver Snake… There’s the Rickshaw Man who survives a collision with Snake’s delivery truck and that isn’t even the most impressive of his physical feats in the film… There’s Dragon showing off some pretty impressive baseball skills… There’s gangsters standing on rafts to cross a pool… Everything from guitars to pineapples to a swing set are used as weapons… There’s a fight on a moving speedboat… And last but not least are the over the top sound effects, this is most notable in the final battle between Dragon and the big boss when the now revealed boss climbs up trees with monkey like ease and amazing sound effects to accompany the action.
Golden Dragon, Silver Snake could have been another in a long line of martial arts revenge flicks filled with blood and guts and with a deadly serious tone but Golden Dragon, Silver Snake went in a slightly different direction and benefitted from it. Dragon Lee looked like he was having the time of his life in this one and his hamming it up while going to toe to toe with an army of cartoony villains will make Golden Dragon, Silver Snake a movie I won’t soon forget instead of a movie that could potentially get lost in the chopsocky shuffle.
Don’t let these Bonus Bullet Points get lost in the shuffle…
- Best Booby Trap Ever?: When Xiu Lin’s uncle tries to reason with the gangsters and talk them out of coming after the farm land, he walks right into what is arguably the best booby trap in movie history.
- AKA: Golden Dragon, Silver Snake was released in the United States in October of 1981 under the title Dragoneer 5: The Indomitable. I am not sure why it had that title because as far as I can tell there was never a Dragoneer 1-4. The movie was released in Dragon Lee’s native South Korea as A Fight at Hong Kong Ranch.
- Favorite Character: My favorite character in the movie was probably the motorcycle gangster with the afro. The dude’s hair was completely unexpected. And speaking of unexpected…
- Nice Voice: The voice selection for Samuel Walls’ character was definitely not playing to any stereotype despite Walls being of African American descent. Samuel Walls is the same actor who is erroneously credited as Steve James by IMDb in the movie Enter the Game of Death.
- Hot Start: There is a fight that breaks out between the motorcycle trio and Dragon’s brother Han during the opening credits! If that is not a positive sign of how much martial arts action they were going to jam into the 84 minute runtime, I’m not sure what is.