Directed By: Robert Clouse
Starring: Bruce Lee, John Saxon, Jim Kelly
Tag line: "The first American produced martial arts spectacular!"
Trivia: The movie was filmed without sound. All of the dialogue and effects were dubbed in during post-production
Enter the Dragon would have been an above-average Kung-Fu film, with exciting action and a top-notch story, regardless of who starred in it. But it also had Bruce Lee, the most charismatic performer the genre ever produced. As a showcase for Bruce Lee’s amazing skills, Enter the Dragon can’t be beat.
Lee (Bruce Lee), an important member of a prestigious Shaolin temple, is invited to participate in a martial arts tournament hosted by Han (Kien Shih), a wealthy landowner and himself a former student of the temple. Before setting out, however, Lee is summoned by the British consulate, who recruit him to keep an eye on Han's activities. Believing he's involved in the manufacturing and distribution of opium, they hope to gather enough evidence to put Han away for good. What the authorities don’t know is Lee himself has a score to settle with his host, who not only disgraced the dignity of the Shaolin temple by abusing his powers, but was also responsible for the death of Lee’s beloved sister, Su Lin (Angela Mao). Joining them at the tournament are a handful of martial arts experts, including Roper (John Saxon), an American hoping to win enough money to pay off his debts, and Williams (Jim Kelly), an African-American who uses Kung-Fu as a means to combat racism. Yet the crafty Han knows Lee is the fighter to beat, and before the competition is over, he'll try to coerce Lee into joining his organization.
Bruce Lee, whose tragic death a few weeks before Enter the Dragon premiered shook the entertainment world to its core, was the most magnetic star the sport ever produced. His fighting abilities were a marvel to behold, and his strength and agility were second to none. But it wasn't only Lee's awesome skills that made him so much fun to watch; it was his electric personality. Lee moves like a leopard in this movie, with a singular panache that makes its way into every one of his confrontations. In his first tournament showdown, Lee battles Han’s bodyguard, Oharra (Robert Wall), and to see him work his magic is truly something. Lee moves quickly, a permanent sneer affixed to his lips, angrily landing every blow aimed at Oharra with incredible force. So impressive was this particular sequence that I replayed it at least four times, and I still couldn’t believe how fast he was moving.
Even if you’re just a casual fan of the martial arts genre, you'll want to see its brightest star in his prime. Enter the Dragon is a great action film that, in the hands of Bruce Lee, is transformed into a classic.