This review is the one that Amazon didn't want you to read and it's the reason that I'm currently on "lunch" break. The review I submitted to them was probably very similar to the one below, it's difficult to say since I write on the fly without any notes or prep work, but the point is that the original review contained no naughty words, no ethnic slurs, nothing objectionable at all--unless you consider hinting at the fact that Warner Brothers is racist is objectionable. We now return to our regularly scheduled review.
ENTER THE DRAGON has always been considered to be the highlight of Bruce Lee's film career, the be all and end all , the "Greatest Martial Arts Film Ever Made", the standard by which all others will be judged throughout eternity.
ENTER THE DRAGON is a 1 star flick that has a 5 star martial artist in it, the end result being that when Bruce is on screen magic DOES happen but when he's off screen the whole thing implodes. "So", you ask, "doesn't Bruce's appearance in it count for something?" Didn't I just say that it does? When Lee is doing his thing ENTER THE DRAGON is a 5 star film. I used to give it 5 stars based on the Bruce Factor too, but then over the years I started to really think about it, and the more I thought about it the more it bothered me. "What bothered you?" you ask. Well, the fact that Bruce was reduced to little more than a supporting player in what to have been his own star vehicle for one. If you add up his total screen time it barely comes to 25 minutes. "Well that's because he has to share the screen with Jim Kelly and John Saxon," you reply. Right! And therein lies the problem!
I can see it all now, exactly the way it must have happened so many years ago...
Scene: STUDIO BOARDROOM. BIG TABLE SURROUNDED BY MOVIE MOGUL TYPES CHOMPING ON CIGARS.
Mogul #1--"This will never work. Hell, the hero is Chinese fer Chrissake." Mogul #2--"We can fix it, Bob. These flix play mostly in urban areas anyhow, so we'll just add a black dude!" SOUNDS OF GENERAL APPROVAL. Mogul #3--"But doesn't that just give us 2 problems instead of 1? Remember, we've got a lotta cash sunk into this baby and its gotta sell in the burbs if we're gonna make it back." SOUNDS OF GENERAL DISMAY. AFTER MUCH SCRATCHING OF HEADS Mogul #2--"Then we just add a white guy too! Somebody with a little bit of a name to counteract the other two!" ALL MOGULS CHEER!
And when you look at ENTER THE DRAGON with a cold hard eye it is a very disappointing film that is saved only be Bruce's charisma. Disappointing because there is never really the kind of payoff that fans are looking for in this kind of film; the big showdown in which the Hero takes down the biggest, baddest fighter. The fact that there are 3 "heroes" instead of 1 makes a truly satisfying conclusion completely impossible because each one has to have his own villain to fight. There's no doubt that every single fan that went in to see that movie was just drooling in anticipation of the ultimate duel between Bolo and Bruce! It had to happen, after all he was obviously he biggest baddest guy on the Island--but no it's John I've-only-got-a-brown-belt Saxon who gets that honor. And the look on Bruce's face as Saxon prepares to take him on says exactly what all of us are thinking! Hell, Bruce doesn't even get to lay a hand or a foot on the bigoted New Zealander--that goes to Jim Kelly. Nope Bruce's final fight is with an old man. So okay, there is a long tradition of the big villain being an old man with white hair, but those characters are always played by young men--Shih Kien was the real McCoy, and the whole episode was a tremendous let down for anyone who geared up for something of an epic nature. And that was all of us.
In reality ENTER THE DRAGON is a 1 star movie thanks to Warners Brothers lack of faith in its stars ability to carry a film and in the American public's willingness to accept a Chinese Hero. I vastly prefer CHINESE CONNECTION. But for sentimental reasons in my heart, yeah, I admit I give it a 5 too.
HYPE Factor for Film: Very High and Undeserved
HYPE Factor for Bruce Lee: Extremely High and Absolutely Deserved:
While Bruce Lee and Angela Mao Ying are brilliant the film as a whole suffers from a surfeit of heroes. We simply do not need both Jim Kelly AND the highly unskilled John Saxon and their presence shows that Warner Bros didn't trust the drawing power of their Asian star. Watch CHINESE CONNECTION aka FIST OF FURY instead.
Enter the Dragon (1973) was Bruce Lee's first (and only) solo big Hollywood production. Too bad he never got to see the fruits of his labor. He passed away during the film's post production (don't fret, two more official Bruce Lee films were made after this one. Despite all of the years of hard work and finally making it to the big times he wasn't around long enough to enjoy it. Even though Robert Clouse is credited as director and another person is credited for writing the screenplay. This film … more
Bruce Lee was immortalized in his films as a martial arts master and first-class entertainer. ENTER THE DRAGON was the first martial arts film that American audiences had witnessed, and was actually produced in both Hong Kong and Hollywood. Interestingly, ENTER THE DRAGON also set the stage for non-traditional, culturally specific narratives to make their way into Hollywood. <br> <br> Bruce Lee plays a kung fu master recruited by a foreign government to infiltrate the island of a megalomaniac martial artist named Han. Han's bodyguard is also found to have killed Lee's sister, giving Lee a personal vendetta to fight for. The Hall of Mirrors sequence towards the end of the film is now famous, as are Lee's incredibly gymnastic martial arts abilities. This trend-setting film holds up as an entertaining, engaging action movie, more than 30 years later.