ENTER THE DRAGON

a film by Robert Clouse released through Warner Brothers Pictures in 1973

In the water, Esther Williams was magical.  Like Miss Williams, Bruce Lee is a force of nature when he is fighting.  Otherwise, he is a fish-out-of-water.  In Enter the Dragon he showed promise, with his non-plussed reactions when chaos is befalling everyone around him (like the cobra-in-the-control-room scene).  But he is terrible with dialogue.  Maybe he would have improved.  But we never got a chance to find out.  His last completed film, Enter the Dragon plays to his strengths.  It boasts some of the greatest cinematic fights (up to that point) in history.

Ably supported by John Saxon as Roper, and Jim Kelly as Williams, the sacrificial lamb, Bruce Lee's character, working for the British government in Hong Kong, wows as a martial-arts James Bond tasked with the exposure/destruction of a Dr. No-esque figure, the imperious Han.  The film moves along nicely, and Lee having a personal motive to vanquish Han (his henchman's sexual menace prompted the suicide of his sister) invests the character with the necessary passion.  And the filmmakers were smart to explain why no guns are on the island, and, thus, why Lee isn't shot once he starts making a mess. 

This is a ground-breaking historic work, but its obvious borrowings, fortune-cookie philosophy, and pointless nudity drag it down.  Enter the Dragon is both venerable artifact and vapid entertainment.
 

★★★☆☆

Best for ages 16+

 

 

FEATURING

BRUCE LEE, JOHN SAXON, JIM KELLY, AHNA CAPRI, BOB WALL, AND SHIH KIEN

2023 Ian C. Bloom