Newest Review: ... former Shaolin master's island lair where it is believed drugs and prostitution are the main business routes, with many agents and othe... more
The name's Lee ... Bruce Lee
Enter The Dragon (DVD)
Member Name: pmcds
Enter The Dragon (DVD)
Advantages: Fight scenes, Western cinema style with Eastern content
Disadvantages: Nothing really
1973 was a year that came not long after James Bond was still a relatively fresh phenomenon, Sean Connery's dulcet Scot tones wooing ladies and making men envious left right and centre. Up until this era, martial arts films had their roots and their consistent parade firmly in the East, but Robert Clouse's film very much mixes that which is pure Eastern (Bruce Lee and the martial 'way') with a very modern and Western style in terms of the plot and the presentation.
Enter The Dragon starts off showing us that Bruce Lee's character, Lee, is a master of the martial arts, the ethics ruling everything else. He is recruited by a governmental body to infiltrate a disgraced former Shaolin master's island lair where it is believed drugs and prostitution are the main business routes, with many agents and others falling foul and losing their lives, without anything to prove it.
Lee, along with a couple of other agents tagging along, enters a competition on the island, where he is able to display his fighting prowess at the same time as patrolling the island at night in search of proof of the dodgy dealings. There's a strong link here between this film and Bond films, although I would hasten to add that it's perhaps not as one way as you may initially think. Many elements of Enter The Dragon remind me of Bond films that have been made after this was made, and so I think there's a mutual existence going on here, something that modern cinema reciprocates on a regular basis. Crossovers between films are all over the place, there's no reason why this should be any different, I suppose.
Really, this set the boundaries for crossover styles between Eastern martial arts and Western films, and the genre has seen plenty of success since. The classic traditional martial arts films are excellent, but there's something familiar and comforting about seeing the mix between it and the West presented style. Clouse does a good job behind the camera, while his cast perform solidly in front of it. I don't think this film would be quite the impressive spectacle now that it was then, but purely for its combination of styles and bridging the gap it deserves a recognised place in cinema history.
I thought Bruce Lee was most at home within the fight scenes, and the power of his physical ability is mesmerising. The final battle scene is one to behold, and it's a tribute to his relative acting skills that he was able to show some sort of equality against his opponent when he was clearly the better fighter. In fact, throughout the film as the plot develops, there are timely interspersed fight scenes which balance the actual plot quite well, keeping the interest moving, the plot developing and the action to give our brains a break even though there's not much going on that can't be easily spotted.
Overall then, a clever and enjoyable Bond style martial arts film. Who knows: perhaps Bruce Lee would have made a good Bond at some point.....
Summary: Entertaining and groundbreaking West and East crossover martial arts film