Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A-Z Movies, E: "Enter the Dragon"

Recommended by:
Dan (husband)

Movie Stats:
Released 1973 (Hong Kong)
Hong Kongian & American, in English
Director - Robert Clouse
Stars - Bruce Lee, Kien Shih, John Saxon, Jim Kelly

Plot Summary:
Supreme fighter and Shaolin monk Lee (Lee) enters a fight tournament on a remote island in order to infiltrate the operation of Han (Shih), a former Shaolin monk who has gone rogue. Saxon and Kelly co-star respectively as Roper and Williams, two other fighters in the tournament who befriend Lee.

Violence; minor blue language, although there’s at least one racial epithet; implied sexy times; drug use; and brief female nudity (breast and butt only).

Bad Stuff:
The sound effects are terrible. For example, every single punch sounds the same. The very 70s soundtrack is pretty terrible too.

My husband tells me that it was Bruce Lee’s “schtick,” but I’m just not down with the weird facial expressions he makes when he’s fighting. I don’t think I was supposed to be laughing through half the movie and yet I was. There’s one scene where he basically stomps a guy to death but his facial expression reads more along the lines of “I’m trying really hard to drop a deuce.” How am I not supposed to laugh at that?

There are a few too many things that happen not because they make any real-world sense but because they look cool. Like, who has a hall of mirrors in their house? No one, that’s who, but a fight in a hall of mirrors looks cool, so we have a scene like that in the movie.

Good Stuff:
The above having been said, the fight scene in the hall of mirrors was really cool. So were many of the other fight scenes. Bruce Lee had impressively fast reflexes. He’s one of the few fighters I’ve watched take on multiple people at once and found it believable. I’m absolutely sold on the idea that he could kick ten asses at once and hardly break a sweat while doing it.

I like that the movie included non-traditional fighters. For example, I look at John Saxon and to me he doesn’t look like a guy who could karate kick somebody. This is the only Bruce Lee movie I’ve seen, but from what I gather (my husband is a big Lee fan & so has told me about him at length) Lee felt that martial arts were for everybody. He would teach anybody, regardless of race or color. So I like that this is reflected in the films that he made.

This movie is pretty no-frills. There is no extra, drawn-out drama to make it more “interesting.” For example, [SPOILER] Lee finds out that a particular one of Han’s henchmen, Oharra (Robert Wall), caused his sister’s death so the first opportunity he has to kill him, he does so without dramatics or monologuing. [SPOILER] It was refreshing. I felt like the characters were mature and focused in a way that a lot of movie characters aren’t.

The Verdict:
It was fairly entertaining. I appreciate that this isn’t a “wire-fu” film (wire-fu is one of the reasons I hate “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” so much). It’s straight-up martial arts, and that’s something I enjoy. However, it suffers from a severe case of 70s cheez-whiz, and that’s incredibly difficult for me to ignore. I’m going to have to go with a middle ground rating on this one.

I give it 3.5 stars.

Bonus Story: Many years ago, I went through a Jackie Chan film phase. Ever since, I’ve been trying to figure out the name of one of these movies, which included a scene in an old timey roller skating rink. I now believe that it must be “The Big Brawl,” which was directed by “Enter The Dragon”’s very own Robert Clouse. I may have to see if I can find a copy, although the internet reliably informs me that it’s a crappy film. Bonus Fact: Jackie Chan has a brief scene in "Enter the Dragon" as one of the henchmen getting an ass kicking from Lee.


Patricia said...

What are you saying? I have a hall of mirrors? Don't you? They are just the thing for when you need an awesome fight sequence. Really, you MUST get one of your own.

The past two summers there's been a "pop-up" drive-in theater over two weeks in the South Waterfront. This was one of the choices this year.

Alas, I did not go.

balyien said...

Well, I do have mirror closet doors in the bedroom, but it's just not the same.

Not sure if you'd like this one. It's definitely one of those movies where you need to let go and embrace the campiness of it all.