For years I actually resented Enter the Dragon because it was the Hollywoodizing of Bruce Lee’s movies. The simplicity of his Hong Kong movies and the style seemed to be lost in big vast sets, huge cast and production costs. But as I have over the years swayed from my perch and begun to accept it as a very good movie and worthy of its praise. Most of my gripe was with Warner Bros who has pushed individual collectors editions and large events surrounding a film that is 3rd or 4th best of his few films he made.
Enter the Dragon takes Lee from Hong Kong to a mysterious island tournament held by Lee’s sifu’s former student Han. Prior to leaving his is asked by British Intelligence to investigate the island as they have concerns against its leader. For those to young or historically challenged to remember Hong Kong was once under British control during a 99-year lease that expired in 1997 and a previous 50-years of British occupation. Lee shows his proficiency in martial arts during the tournament and wins the eyes of many for his style and dominance. As the conspiracy begins to unfold and Lee finds the opium stashes his safety becomes more lethal as his opponents are no longer competitors but assassins. Lee’s counterpart is more like a hold back then a hand in combat, but I guess when you are outnumbered on an island of warriors you take what you can get.
There are many legends about the film and it’s cast, notably the incident with Bob Wall, but frankly the only person who can give an honest take on the depth and truth of these claims is no longer with us and the other side of the story seems to change to keep the story fresh and relevant and it’s teller in the lime light just a bit longer.
Jackie Chan makes his second appearance in a Lee film, this time with a bit more screen prominence in the secret base scene where he encounters Lee and has his ass kicked and neck snapped. His face is very visible and if you are looking for him you will pick him out rather easily. The other notable face for fans of Kung Fu cinema is Bolo who John Saxon fights in the tournament and defeats to Han’s displeasure. He is not the destructive force he was in Bloodsport, but he is still the same monster presence. This role was so important to his future success that somewhere along the way his name went from his given name of Yang Sze to his character name of Bolo
My favorite scene of the movie is opening which has Lee competing in some sort of monk tournament, probably his school where he was raised if I were to guess, but the set up is very familiar to what MMA is today, tapout included.