Posted : 2 years, 11 months ago on 26 December 2010 03:08
"You have offended my family and you have offended the Shaolin Temple."
Enter the Dragon is the zenith of cinematic martial arts experiences, and has been since its release back in 1973. Among fans, it is revered as the feature which legitimised the martial arts genre for Western audiences and brought the very capable Bruce Lee into the global spotlight. Bruce Lee's name has become synonymous with martial arts cinema, and the man - who tragically died at the age of 32 - has achieved an almost mythical status since his untimely demise. Prior to Enter the Dragon, Lee was only known to martial arts fans or to those who saw him in The Green Hornet on television, but Enter the Dragon was the one that broke him into the big time. Alas, before the film had even premiered, he was dead. Fortunately, all these years on, Enter the Dragon is not just a historical curiosity but a highly watchable, enjoyable action commodity. It may not have the slick special effects of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon or the Kill Bill films, but Lee and his co-stars more than compensated for this in charm and stunning action sequences of boundless grace.
Like most action films, the plot is very simple and uncomplicated. A Shaolin master known as Lee (played by Lee) is approached by law enforcement officers to infiltrate a fighting tournament on an island run by a gangster named Han (Shih). Han is a renegade Shaolin monk who has a lucrative business in slave trade and opium dealing. As a result, he has disgraced his and Lee's temple with his heinous behaviour. Additionally, Han forced the suicide of Lee's sister, so Lee has a double motive for revenge. Thus, Lee is sent to the tournament to uncover evidence against Han in order for the authorities to come in and arrest him.
To say the least, the story itself is not much to brag about. The novelty of the deadly tournament (a concept which served as inspiration for countless video games and movies) peters out before the halfway point, as only a small amount of fighting in the arena is actually shown. Like many action pictures of the late '60s and early '70s, Enter the Dragon borrows heavily from the James Bond franchise. For the most part, the film is a spy thriller with palpable echoes of Bond as Lee carries out his investigating. The climax, too, is highly Bond-esque. Meanwhile, Han carries a fluffy white cat and surrounds himself with lethal female bodyguards. Yet, the undeniable similarities to the Bond franchise do more than increase the film's appeal for a Western audience - the contrast between Lee and 007 additionally provides a useful vehicle for illustrating the intrinsic similarities and differences between Chinese and Western culture.
Obviously, Enter the Dragon is not a profound drama of human emotion and romance. However, it is chock full of great action, all of which was choreographed by Bruce Lee himself. Decades on, Lee is still regarded as one of the world's greatest martial arts choreographers, and the reason for his enduring reputation is obvious while watching Enter the Dragon. Lee was a master of his craft; an immaculately-honed machine whose lightning-fast and beautifully choreographed fight scenes remain both exciting and visceral. Not only are these some of the best martial arts sequences you will ever see, but they were also executed without the aid of wires or modern digital effects, which makes them all the more impressive. In addition to crafting excellent fights, Lee worked tirelessly as an ambassador for Chinese culture. He aimed to bring the elegance and philosophy of Asia to audiences around the world. Unfortunately, though, during the time between Lee's death and the premiere of Enter the Dragon, the film was trimmed down to remove some of the more philosophical elements which Bruce had campaigned to include.
In terms of acting, it's hard to deny that Enter the Dragon is rather B-grade. The acting is passable but unspectacular, and - typical for martial arts pictures of the period - the ADR work and dubbing is at times atrocious (the film was shot without sound). The standout of the cast is Bruce Lee, whose screen presence is electrifying and who delivered a measured, understated performance. It's easy to see why Lee was such a big star - he had a charm and charisma that few actors have. John Saxon (A Nightmare on Elm Street) - the only 'recognised' Hollywood actor in the bunch - is passable as Roper, while Jim Kelly (Black Samurai) reeks of blaxploitation. The film even features Jackie Chan, in a blink-and-you'll-miss-him cameo appearance (he plays a henchman who's killed by Bruce Lee). The rest of the cast is composed of martial artists and actors from Hong Kong, and they're undeniably second-rate. Their performances are hidden below the mask of the aforementioned awful dubbing.
While Enter the Dragon is a perfectly enjoyable action film, it's still flawed - the cartoonish sound effects are unintentionally laughable, the cinematic techniques have dated, and dialogue is definitely not a strong suit. Also, if boiled down to its basic constituents, it's an unspectacular action film that's marred by the usual genre trappings but benefits from the spectacular talents of Bruce Lee. Thus, Enter the Dragon is not so much a masterpiece as it is enjoyable and influential.
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Posted : 3 years, 9 months ago on 10 March 2010 12:11
To start with, I was predicting Enter The Dragon to be an absolute masterpiece but to be honest I thought it was slightly flawed. It was a really good film still but flaws were that it was rather slow regarding the action and also there wasn't as much action within the film as I was predicting. The action scene near the end was absolutely incredible that led to a classic scene as well as the image with the cuts on Lee's chest and face. Minus the action with the best things about Enter The Dragon, the best thing about Enter The Dragon was that the story was just simple but didnt flow in fast enough. Enter The Dragon is one of the early films that are just entertaining and have a lot of intense moments within the film whether there's any violence in them or not. It is also a classic because it was Bruce Lee's last film and posthumous film too. I love films based around China, Hong Kong, Japan, Indonesia etc because all of the things they have around their neighbourhoods and the way their films are made and the stories they come up with are just amazing which is another reason why I love Enter The Dragon.
When I was watching this film, I wondered whether any of the cast members including Bruce Lee actually spoke any English. I thought it was a dubbed remastered DVD regarding voices and language but it actually wasn't. It was an English languaged film but in Hong Kong and China settings. It was a very violent film. It wasn't so much violent regarding blood but the way the men were killing each other like when it was off-screen. For example, Lee killed a man breaking his neck but you only heard it not saw it. Also, an even bigger man crushed another man's skull which you only heard not saw. Enter The Dragon is Bruce Lee's most famous and last film. Lee died in some say unusual circumstances. He was either murdered or tragically died in an illness to the brain. It is a damn shame Lee never saw this film because he would have been so proud of it and how it turned out to be when it was released back in 1973. Lee died 2 months after the film was completed and produced. Bruce Lee was the complete martial arts expert and will always be that no matter what. If Lee were alive now I personally think he would have been a good collaborator with director Ang Lee especially if he was in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. That is in my personal opinion the best martial arts film of all time and I think it will always be. Bruce Lee's death partly led to his son Brandon's 20 years later and there are suspicions that both were murdered by a particular group of people who didn't like the family. Bruce Lee leaves us with a film that is without a doubt one of the most memorable action thrill rides ever made. This is the first Bruce Lee film that I have watched and I am proud to say that it is because it may be better to start with the actor's best film first and then make your way through his other film which I am going to do. Don't get me wrong Bruce Lee is one-of-a-kind actor but he reminds me a lot of Jet Li for some reason. This would have been a good Ang Lee film because after seeing Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Ang Lee proved that he could have pulled off another martial arts film like Enter The Dragon. Having Ang Lee and Bruce Lee in the same film together would have made one of those two films the ultimate action martial arts film of all time.
The director of Enter The Dragon actually did a good job with really comical sound effects regarding the action fights. I could tell that they were fake but to be fair that didn't bother me in the slightest. Enter The Dragon is my favourite film of 1973 at the moment which does actually surprise me. I really enjoyed this film because of it's pure entertainment and Bruce Lee's mindblowing martial arts moves.
Enter The Dragon is a classic that is one of my favourite posthumous films after The Dark Knight (Heath Ledger) and The Crow (Bruce Lee's late son Brandon). Enter The Dragon is at the present time my second favourite martial arts film after Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Overall, Enter The Dragon is a really good yet flawed entertaining action film that I think everyone should give a try. R.I.P. Bruce Lee. January
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