Enter the Dragon is the greatest martial arts movie I’ve ever seen. A fitting end to Bruce Lee’s tragically short career. Enter the Dragon was released only a month after Lee’s death in 1973. It became one of the most successful movies of all time and a major influence on pop culture. Elements of the plot inspired TV shows, comic books, video games, and anime. Unlike his previous movies, I did see pieces of Enter the Dragon when I was younger thanks to my parents watching it a lot. Enter the Dragon is the ultimate combination of everything awesome about the 70’s. More than just the Kung Fu craze, Enter the Dragon has elements of a Bond style spy flick and Blaxploitation.
Bruce Lee became such an icon in America that Enter the Dragon was co-produced in Hong Kong as well as the U.S. It was finally my chance to hear his un-dubbed English speaking voice. Bruce Lee plays a Shaolin Temple instructor simply known as Lee. Like Lee himself, he brought his own martial arts philosophy to the role. Lee uses emotional content in the art of “fighting without fighting.” A British Intelligence agent brings him in for a mission on a private island. Like Mortal Kombat, the best fighters in the world are brought together for a martial arts competition. Lee goes to avenge his sister who was inadvertently killed by the American O’Harra. Most of the cast is ethnically diverse with horror legend John Saxon as wealthy gambler Roper and afro sporting African American martial artist Jim Kelly as Williams. They’re a precursor to Power Man and Iron Fist who join Lee in his fight.
The competition is an exciting display of everyone’s individual skill. Even bodybuilding martial artist Bolo plays a part. The drug trafficking villain Han is literally right out of a comic book with a deadly series of iron clawed hands. There’s a distinct amount of blood and steel in the movie. Along with nudity in the form of ladies keeping the competitors company. Lee is only interested in fellow undercover spy Mei Ling. Bruce Lee delivers his most passionate performance yet. His high flying fight with O’Harra is a personal one. An underground fight against henchmen makes perfect use of his bo staff, baton, and nunchuck skills. You may even spot a young Jackie Chan. When an epic martial arts battle breaks out, Lee has an iconic brutal encounter with Han in an impressively shot hall of mirrors. You know it’s serious when Lee tastes his own blood. Enter the Dragon is the culmination of everything groundbreaking about Bruce Lee.