Friday, November 26, 2010

Enter the Dragon (1973)

Enter the Dragon (Hong Kong/USA, 1973) - Color, Director(s): Robert Clouse
MPAA Rating: R
Approx. 99 min.

Z-rating: 9 out of 10 stars

By far the most well-known of Bruce Lee's movies, this one stars actor John Saxon and martial artist Jim Kelly as well as a slew of other familiar faces in Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao, Yuen Wah, Bolo Yeung, along with many others. This film marks the first Chinese martial arts film to be produced by a major Hollywood studios (Warner Bros) in conjunction with Hong Kong's famous distribution company, Golden Harvest.

This movie opens with Bruce Lee and Sammo Hung in the middle of an exhibition match at Shaolin Temple. During this fight, you can see that both fighters are wearing gloves similar to the ones that are now commonly seen in MMA (as shown above) but were not widely used during the time that this film was originally made. (If at all) After winning the fight, due to tap out, Lee is approached by a gentleman from British Intelligence who asks for his assistance with an undercover mission to infiltrate an island owned by a rogue Shaolin monk by the name of Han (Shih Kien). After Lee is briefed on the details of his mission, where he will be entering a martial arts tournament that's held by Han every three years, we are introduced to two of the other main characters in Williams (Jim Kelly) and Roper (John Saxon). Soon, the contestants of the tournament pile into a leaky old boat as they set sail for Han's island. There is a comedic scene where Bruce Lee plays some jerk who is trying to rock the boat and make some waves. (HA!! Pun definitely intended... rock the boat... alright, I know I'm a dork) There is a feast awaiting the contestants once they arrive at the island, including plenty of lovely ladies to keep the fighters company in their lonely rooms. There is a sleeper agent amongst the women on the island who aides Lee in his investigation of the island. Han is suspected of peddling drugs and trafficking women off his island but the authorities are unable to prove anything. Enter Lee, (or "the Dragon". HA!! Ok, I'll stop) who stealthily makes his way around the island in an attempt to gather evidence against Han. Williams is getting some air one night and happens to notice Lee scaling the walls of Han's fortress. The tournament continues the next day but, unfortunately for Williams, Han is aware that someone snuck out of their room at night to snoop around. Accused of being in cahoots with the spy, Williams is ambushed and dies by Han's hand. (heh)  Eventually, Han's secret underground base is discovered and his entire operation is exposed. When it all comes crashing down, Lee is there to apprehend Han but first must do battle with him in the infamous "Hall of Mirrors".

This film was so significant that in 2004, the Library of Congress decided to preserve it in the National Film Registry. Many references to Bruce Lee in other movies tend to parody this film in particular. (As seen in films like Kung Phooey! and Balls of Fury)  Despite beginning production on The Game of Death first, he put the that project on hold in order to film this movie which was released six days after his death. (This is why The Game of Death was left unfinished until they filled in the missing scenes and released the finished film in 1978)

Nudity: 4 out of 5. Many various girls that are sent to keep the fighters of the tournament company at night are shown topless or fully nude. Not necessarily rated for excellent quality of nudity, but for the quantity that I didn't expect from a martial arts film. I do like a healthy dose of unexpected nudity from time to time.

Gore: None

Awesome: to the MAX!!! Anyone who claims to know Bruce Lee, knows this movie as this is by far his most famous and popular movie. Arguably his most influential film as well, this movie came out after Bruce Lee had already developed his own style of martial arts (Jeet Kune Do) and is able to fully showcase his abilities. Some of his earlier films are a little clumsily choreographed but this is one of his best films by far. This film also showcases his prowess with various weapons in addition to his empty-handed fighting scenes. Highly recommended for any fan of martial arts movies in general. You cannot call yourself a a martial arts/kung fu movie fan if you haven't seen this film at least once.