Howdy ladies and gents, how’s it going? Today is a special day as it marks 43 years since the death of Bruce Lee, and for those who aren’t in the know Lee is one of the most notable/influential individuals when it comes to martial arts, physical fitness and being an actor in the martial arts film genre. And for the longest time I’ve wanted to review one of his films on this blog and considering the occasion I thought I’d review one of my all-time favourite films; Enter the Dragon. Minor spoilers to follow…
The storycan be described as the following:
“Enter the Dragon revolves around the three main characters. Lee, a man recruited by an agency to investigate a tournament hosted by Han, since they believe he has an Opium trade there. It is a deadly tournament that they will enter on an island. Lee’s job is to get the other two out of there alive.”
What I love about this film is it’s sense of style, tone and genre. This is a martial arts film first and foremost but it also has elements of the spy genre implemented into it, and at certain points it really feels like a James Bond film, and while some may say that the story feels like a Bond knock off, I actually enjoyed the spy elements as it made the film feel unique and different from other martial arts films of that time period. Plus their’s a nice simplicity the overall story, but there’s minor details that enhance the flesh out the world and characters like: 1) Han’s connection to the shaolin temple. 2) Roper and William’s flashbacks that helps establish their motivations for entering the tournament. And 3) Learning about Lee’s sister and how she ties back to Han’s main bodyguard.
As for the cast they are all very interesting and memorable, but let’s start with the man of the hour, Bruce Lee as Lee. Lee essentially is playing himself, but that’s fine as this film is not only a good representation of him as his real persona, but it also allows him to show off his acting skills which are much better than his previous roles. It also helps that Lee does a lot of his best work on-screen with his facial expressions and form perfect action moves. I also really loved John Saxon as Roper, he was very humourous, cheeky and reminds me a lot of Bruce Campbell for some reason haha. I also really enjoyed Jim Kelly as Williams who was the definition of smooth with his lovely voice, relaxed body language and charm. Shih Kien as Han (voice dubbed by Keye Luke) was a very enjoyable villain who was cunning and perceptive. Also Ahna Capri was very pretty and stylish as Tania, Bob Wall was also strangly enjoyable as O’Hara and finally Angela Mao was really cool and cute as Su Lin.
When it comes to the presentation is one of the key aspects that I love! Visually the film is great, there is so much awesome martial arts action going on from not only Bruce Lee, but also some of the main and secondary cast members, and it is awesome. There are some nice punches and kicks, grapples and throws, use of weapons and cool killing moves, and why I like it so much over the years is due to the style and charisma put into every move. And it also helps that it is all presented with good cinematography with a mixture of wide, medium and POV camera shots that are edited well and really helps see the action from all angles. I also love the use of the old school sound effects that really make those hits sound good memorable both in a hard-hitting and admittedly funny way too. Oh and the film score from Lalo Schifrin is incredible, and while some may be turned off by the 70’s infused sound it definitely feels right and has such a gorgeous and funky sound, and of course the “Theme from Enter the Dragon” is totally classic and badass!
However the film’s not perfect, some of the sound effects are off with the timing and the level of impact doesn’t always sound great. Also as much as I like the choreography some of the moves are a bit over the top and unrealistic. The plot as well could have used a bit of tweaking with some additional scenes to help explain a few details, and finally as a film from the 70’s the film’s age definitely shows and considering how fast, tight, chaotic and ambitious martial arts films have become over the years this film may across as a bit tame.
In the end Enter the Dragon is just cool as hell and is a classic in the genre of martial arts films, and it certainly has started to show its age, I believe in holds up with due to a charismatic protagonist, kick ass martial arts, interesting plot and wonderful soundtrack. Unless you’re a fan of this genre then you really aren’t aware of how instrumental this film was to the martial arts genre and I feel like there wouldn’t be Raid films or the subsequent action stars without this film’s existence.
So have you seen Enter the Dragon and if so what do you think of it? Please be sure to comment below and I’ll see ya on the next review, laters! 😀