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Enter the Dragon

enter_the_dragon

“Don’t think. FEEL. It is like a finger pointing away to the moon. Do not concentrate on the finger or you will miss all that heavenly glory.” –Lee

I finally got around to watching the 1973 classic Enter the Dragon on DVD a few days ago and man…did Bruce Lee know his shit or what?  This old chop sockey kung fu classic plays kind of dated now but in definitely a fun way.  Its around the time towards the end when Bruce Lee basically takes on half an island of martial artists and he’s just elegantly and gracefully kicking each and every single person’s ass that you realize why you popped this bad boy into the DVD player in the first place.

Bruce Lee truly is the star of this show and everything is secondary from other characters to dialogue and story.  The story, from what I was able to gather, is that the English government wants Lee (yes, Bruce Lee’s character is just Lee) to infiltrate some evil crime lord’s martial arts tournament on his own, secluded island and to spy and gather evidence against him.  Yes, they get one of the greatest martial artists of all time to merely go to the island to gather evidence.  Of course, this isn’t what ends up happening as he just ends up kicking every single ass he comes across.  Now, right from here it all plays on fairly nonsensical from the word go.  Apparently, to show that Han (played by Kien Shih) is truly evil is that they know that he’s pumping drugs into women and then throwing them into the sea.  I was never really clear on why the hell he’d be doing this, like at all.  Apparently, he’s got a whole underground cave of prisons and, I guess, drums of heroin for what particular purpose is anybody’s guess.  He doesn’t sell his drugs; he just murders people with them I guess.  Of course.  This makes all the sense.

Not that any of that matters anyways.  They know why we’re here.  This is all a macguffin really.  We just want to see Bruce Lee do what he does best.

Apparently, Lee can’t be the only hero character in the film kicking ass single handedly.  Although, by the end of the movie you wonder why not.  John Saxon plays Roper a gambler and womanizer who we learn through flashback plays golf and has a random lady secretary even though he claims to be flat broke.  I guess he’s just that damn charming.  Also coming along for the tournament is my favorite non-Bruce Lee character in the movie, Williams (played by Jim Kelley).  We learn through his flashback that he…well…we just learn that he’s the coolest man in the world.  That’s all that really needs to be said about it.  His flashback wholly consists of him wandering around, getting hassled by a racist cop, him beating up that racist cop, and then driving the guy’s POLICE CAR to the airport to take part in a kung fu tournament for some reason.  This is the kind of character building that needs to take place more often.  The Williams character is very much a part of the dated era of the film when the blaxploitation movement was really taking hold and really at its height at this point.  And with lines like,”Bullshit, Mr. Han-man,” it proves to be a little part of every great underground seventies flick.  With great kung fu, hilarious blaxploitation riffs, and Bruce Lee’s master choreography, this is just one hell of an entertaining movie.

There’s really not a whole lot to say about this movie.  It a purely fun, entertaining flick to just kick back with and watch the master at work.  The way Lee stages, choreographs, and takes part in these fight scenes just shows what an elegant and graceful master he was at his art form.  The movie isn’t without its faults though.

During much of the movie, the threat of a giant, lumbering fighter who killed other fighters with ease builds and builds throughout the movie.  I figured it would be Lee who would eventually take care of it but of course they throw the Saxon’s Roper a bone and let him fight the behemoth.  The fight’s good but I was really hoping to see Lee’s quickness and agility really at work with this guy and felt like it was a very missed opportunity.

Also, the strange barely sub-plot of the movie where one of Han’s bodyguards had killed his sister.  First off, the way they give off this information is kind of strange and stilted.  Basically, Lee has a flashback to his teacher telling him a story about how they were assaulted by Han’s people.  That’s right.  Basically his flashback had a flashback.  Did we really need the middle flashback?  Honestly?  Felt like a little padded running time.  Also, with such a personal vendetta being set up, one would think that this tension would build into some crazy rumble some place towards the end, at least.  Nope.  It’s all fairly dispatched with pretty quickly at the beginning of the tournament.  In fact, I think it’s the first guy he fights at the tournament.  After that, it’s all business and evidence gathering for Mr. Lee.

It’s a fun and dated movie where the extremely seventies aspects just add more to the fun of the whole movie.  This is definitely in the sit back and enjoy action type of movie.  And even then, Lee adds in many of his own philosophical teachings and methods to martial arts throughout such as in the beginning when he teaches the art of fighting without fighting.  If you’re able to follow that, then you will probably be ready to kick the ass of an entire fortress full of martial artists.  Yeah, definitely.  Go try that now.  I’ll wait here.

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