|05-24-2004, 11:56 PM||#1|
I can choke you out!
Join Date: Oct 2001
Enter the Dragon review
Enter the Dragon
Cast: Bruce Lee, John Saxon, Jim Kelly, Bob Wall, Angela Mao, Shin Kien, and Ahna Capri
Director: Robert Clouse
Enter the Dragon was set to be the film that made Bruce Lee and international superstar. The film was written specifically for him after Warner Brothers executives received word that the one time fight choreographer and television guest star had become the top box office draw in Asia. Bruce’s success was largely attributed to his dynamic personality and physical ability. Lee had already shaken the martial arts community with his nonconformist views and unique system of unarmed combat, called Jeet Kune Do. Focusing more on physical conditioning and efficiency rather than tradition, Jeet Kune Do attracted a large number of celebrity students and martial arts enthusiasts.
The cast of Dragon is eclectic mix of talented actors and martial arts champions. Playing the role of the womanizing gambler Roper is John Saxon. Saxon, a karate practioner, was best known for his rebellious youth roles in various B movies.
Bob Wall was cast as the head of security, Oharra. Wall was a former U.S. karate champion and training partner for Chuck Norris. Fans of Lee will recognize Wall as villain in the Hong Kong production Return of the Dragon.
For the role of Williams, producers chose karate competitor Jim Kelly. Kelly had already stared in a movie a year earlier but Dragon would be his break out role. After the release of Dragon, Kelly would go on to star in many wonder yet over looked karate-soul films such as Black Belt Jones, Black Samurai and Hot Potato.
Chinese actor Shin Kien portrayed the lead villain and tournament organizer Han. Shin had previously stared in hundreds of Asian films and in fact was a serious practioner of kung fu.
Hong Kong hapkido champion Angela Mao played Bruce Lee’s late sister. Mao had already established herself as Hong Kong movie star before Dragon. Her part was brief but made a huge impact for female actresses in the martial arts film genre.
Bodybuilding champion and former Mr. Hong Kong Bolo Yeung and American actress Ahna Capri rounded out the cast.
The transfer of this edition of Dragon is a revised version of the one used for the Enter the Dragon Special Edition that was released a few years ago. Also, original footage of Lee conversing with the head monk has been restored and nicely placed in the movie.
Lee’s role in Dragon was far more than just star. During the course of production he took on the role of producer, fight choreographer, and script reviser. In fact, Lee insistence on weaving his personal philosophy of martial arts into the story that many historians credit him as assistant director.
Sadly, he didn’t live long enough to see its Hollywood premier.
It’s the uncomplicated storyline, lack of wire work, and philosophy that separated Dragon from other martial arts movies of the time.
Over 30 years after its release, Enter the Dragon is still considered one of the best marital arts movies ever created.
Enter the Dragon tells the story of shaolin monk (Lee) who is approached by Interpol to infiltrate the island lair of renegade monk, Han. (Shin). Once on the island, Lee is instructed to find evidence that Han is involved in a ring of drugs, murder, and prostitution. Lee, who plays a character of the same name, must mask himself as a participant in the islands annual martial arts tournament. Fighting along with him is Williams (Kelly) and Roper (Kelly).
Adding to Lee’s desire to stop Han is memory of his late sister, who died at the hands of Han’s henchman Oharra (Wall).
The most exciting of the many martial arts scenes takes place at the tournament. Roper is pitted against Bolo (Bolo Yeung) and Williams takes on dimwitted Parsons. On a side note, Parsons (portrayed by Peter Archer) must have been the model for Williams Zabka’s bully character “Johnny Lawernce” in The Karate Kid. Both are very loathsome characters.
Lee takes center stage in the tournament when he avenges his sister by fighting Oharra. It’s interesting that the broken bottles Oharra used as weapons against Lee were actual glass and Lee was cut during the filming of the scene. Filming had to be stopped until Lee healed and rumors began to swirl that Lee would hurt Wall to regain face in front of the Chinese crew. Lee healed and picked up where the filming left off, however, he did kick Wall full force with the final blow. The kick was so powerful that Wall was knocked back and onto an extra, breaking the extras arm.
The films climaxes with a battle between Lee and Han. Han, using weapons, leads Lee into a room of mirrors designed to confuse and distract. Lee, using his personal philosophy of martial arts, recognized the true Han and impales him with a spear.
The island is raided and the bad guys are captured. The hero wins.
Commentary by producer Paul Heller: The commentary is very informative and includes many anecdotes about the filming. Heller became a personal friend of Lee’s and was privy to his unique personality. While I would love to have more commentaries from the stars, none were included.
Bruce Lee, In His Own Words: Bruce Lee biographer John Little wrote and directed this documentary. While it is short, it is narrated by Bruce and includes home footage never before available on DVD. Little, one of the only people able to access Lee’s personal notes and writings, did a wonderful job of showcasing every part of Lee’s life.
Linda Lee interview: There is not much new information found in this interview but is always great to hear Linda Lee talk about the man she knew best.
Backyard Workout with Bruce: I found this extra a little disappointing. It is widely known that Bruce filmed many of his personal instruction sessions with celebrities and students. However, the footage on the DVD has been used in countless Lee documentaries and runs under two minutes. I am not sure if he Lee estate legally unable to show more footage but it would have been nice to see. Perhaps it will be included a future release.
Blood and Steel, Making of Enter the Dragon: This is gem for Enter buffs. A new documentary with many of the films cast and crew. A lot of good information is packed in this documentary and should not be overlooked by fans of the film.
While I hoped to hear insights from Jim Kelly, Kelly has refused to do any press regarding Dragon or any other of his marital arts films. Rather he now focuses on tennis, which he played professional in the mid-70’s.
Curse of the Dragon: Curse of the Dragon is an older documentary on the life of Lee. Not available on DVD until now, Curse features many of Lee's
closest friends and family. Former student Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Chuck Norris, James Coburn, and many more all share fond memories of the man they called friend
and Sifu (Chinese for teacher). Star Trek icon George Takei narrorates the film and provides a detailed analysis of Bruce's career.
The only complaint I have with Curse is the way speaker's voice will be fading out when another speakers voice begins. While this is meant to be a seamless transition, it often distracts from the story being told.
A Warriors Journey: Another documentary included in this two disc set is the 2000 documentary, Bruce Lee: A Warriors Journey. The first half of Journey attempts to examine Lee's life and the events that took place up until his death. While no real new information is presented in the first half, the second half makes the documentary a true masterpiece. Unearth and showcased in Journey is the lost footage from Lee's incomplete Game of Death.
Death was the film Lee had begun and put on hold for Enter the Dragon. After his untimely death, producers released Game of Death using only minutes of the footage Bruce
shot. Using camera tricks, body doubles, and archive footage, Death is considered a travesty to the Lee legacy by many fans. Thankfully, Lee historian John Little was able to find much more footage of the "pagoda" scene is which Bruce fights Hapkido legend Ji Han Jae and Jeet Kune Do expect Dan Inosanto. This provides more evidence that Game of Death would have been a much more top notch action film had Lee been able to complete it. Tragically, cerebral edema claimed his life before he had the opportunity to do so. While this documentary has been available for years as a standalone disc, it is certainly nice for WB to include this in the package.
Trailers and T.V. Spots: The trailers and T.V. spots for Enter the Dragon are pretty standard for the era. Nothing special but still gold for collectors.
I would have to say this is the best version of Enter the Dragon and the most economical for fans and collectors. Rumors are already flowing of another version filled with more lost footage but for now, this is more than enough to keep a diehard Lee fan satisfied. While I still wish Jackie Chan (a stuntman on EtD) and Jim Kelly would have participated in this release, there is not more I could have expected of asked for. Kudos to Warner Brothers for delivering an awesome tribute to true martial arts film pioneer and cinematic legend.
Last edited by moogong; 05-25-2004 at 01:56 AM.