Anthony's Film Review
Enter the Dragon (1973)
Bruce Lee's notable martial arts film from Hollywood certainly showcases his mastery of fighting...
It is sad that Bruce Lee died young. Had Lee not left us so soon, we would have seen a whole line of martial arts films featuring him, instead of just a small handful. That's not to say I'm disappointed. None of us should be. The important thing is quality, not quantity. We can still be satisfied that Bruce Lee starred in a few good ones, including one film that essentially put him on the map of Hollywood: Enter the Dragon in 1973.
What's nice is that the film may be from Hollywood rather than Hong Kong, but it has much of the look and feel of martial arts films from the Far East. Just take a look at the first scene that depicts a martial arts match at a Shaolin temple. Bruce Lee, playing a character simply named Lee, is in a duel with a chubby opponent. In a span of just a few minutes, you get to see Lee's mastery in punching, kicking, jumping, flipping, and whatever else he can do. He does it all with great speed and power.
Western elements enter the picture not too long afterwards. A British intelligence officer meets with Lee and recruits him on a risky espionage mission. There is an island fortress off the coast of Hong Kong that is run by Han, a former Shaolin disciple who has turned to a life of crime. This criminal overlord hosts a martial arts tournament every three years, and Lee is asked to infiltrate Han's fortress by signing up as a contestant. That's when he meets a few Americans who join the tournament, including Roper (John Saxon) and Williams (Jim Kelly).
If you ignore the danger for a moment, you can definitely be impressed by Han's lavishness. He hosts a marvelous feast for the tournament contestants, complete with delicious food, minstrel performers, and pretty service girls. Speaking of girls, Han also invites all of the contestants to select prostitutes as bedroom companions. Obviously, this might be a way to weaken the men before the tournament. Lee is smart, though. He uses that opportunity to speak with a girl who actually is a spy infiltrating Han's inner circle.
And speaking of spies, there are, surprisingly, elements of James Bond movies here, like the big-time villain, the secret underground lair, and the protagonist moving with great stealth. There's even a scene featuring Han with prosthetic hands and a white cat, making him like a combination of Dr. No and Blofeld. But unlike the Bond movies, the action here is all martial arts, without any firearms to speak of. Whether the fighting is in Han's secret lair or out on the tournament grounds, fans of martial arts action are in for a treat.
Enter the Dragon is essentially a popcorn action movie, without anything that is presented in depth. It's simply a vehicle for Bruce Lee to show off what he is awesome at. And it's fun to watch. Even if this is Lee's most notable Hollywood movie among just a few films of his career, he has left a cinematic legacy. Many martial arts movie stars owe it to Bruce Lee for popularizing the martial arts film genre. This film is a reminder of that.
For more information about Enter the Dragon, visit the Internet Movie Database.