Movie Project #28: Enter the Dragon [1973]

Due to the surprising success of my initial Movies Project, I decided to do a part two for 2012. This time around I put a greater emphasis on directors I am not familiar with, but I also tried to compile a mix of different genres and eras. This will be an ongoing project with the finish date being sometime this year.

Enter the Dragon [1973]

Enter the Dragon [1973]
Director: Robert Clouse
Genre: Martial Arts
Starring: Bruce Lee, John Saxon and Jim Kelly
Runtime: 98 minutes

When it comes to martial arts films, I am very much a novice. I have seen, and loved, some contemporary films such as Ong-bak and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, but I have never dug into the classics. As Enter the Dragon is widely considered one of the greatest martial arts movies of all time, I had to include it in my project.

Enter the Dragon has the distinction of being both the first Chinese martial arts film to have been produced by a major Hollywood studio, as well as Bruce Lee’s final film appearance (tragically, he passed away six days before its release). Set predominantly in Hong Kong, Lee stars as “Lee” — very original! — a Shaolin student who is recruited to infilitrate a fighting tournament on the private island of the evil Han (Shih Kien). Lee also finds out that Han’s henchmen were the ones responsible for the death of his sister years ago, so not only is this an intel mission, it is also a quest for revenge.

Enter the Dragon [1973]

The tournament brings big name fighters from all over the world, including Roper (John Saxon) and Williams (Jim Kelly). These two men join their old pal Lee in his pursuit of Han.

In many ways, Enter the Dragon feels reminiscent of an old James Bond movie; namely, 1964’s Dr. No. Lee has a “secret agent” vibe going but with a hell of a lot of awesome kung fu to back it up. The man is a total badass, expertly played by the charismatic Bruce Lee, with crazy facial expressions and unforgettable battle cries. On the other side, Han shares a number of villainous similarities with Dr. No, right down to a missing hand.

Enter the Dragon [1973]

While undeniably cheesy today, and also the epitome of a 70s flick, Enter the Dragon is a total riot. The fight scenes are brilliantly choreographed and never fail to get the blood pumping. This is a quintessential “guy movie”, one that revels in its B-movie aesthetics and delivers some terrific action scenes.

It’s sad that this is the last we ever saw of Bruce Lee, but he sure left a lasting impression with this film. Special mention must be made of a young Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung, both of whom have brief but memorable moments in the film.


18 thoughts on “Movie Project #28: Enter the Dragon [1973]

  1. le0pard13 says:

    It’s always interesting to hear from a new viewer of Bruce Lee’s films. I grew up under his all too brief time (in these SoCal parts, his time on TV, and the HK movies). He remains so charismatic and dynamic on the screen, and his influence in martial arts still carries enormous weight. Fine look at this, Eric.

    • Eric says:

      Thanks, Michael. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this one. For whatever reason, I just never got into martial arts films, but it was a lot of fun to watch Bruce Lee’s mannerisms on screen. It was almost surreal to see him in action after only being familiar with the countless spoofs/parodies over the years.

  2. ruth says:

    I’m actually not that fond of martial arts movies, Eric, I know that being from Indonesia it’s a popular genre. My brother loves them growing up. I guess the only reason I’d watch it is to see Bruce Lee in top form.

  3. Aislynn says:

    Have you seen “Seven Samurai”? If not, I’d put it on your list. It’s an older film (1954), but even for someone like me–who generally needs stunning visuals to enjoy a martial arts film, e.g. “Hero” & “House of Flying Daggers”–I really enjoyed this one (surprise, surprise!).

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