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In the years since his bizarre and tragic death, martial arts legend
and master Bruce Lee has become a sort of icon within the Kung-fu movie
The last film that he completed before his death, 1973's "Enter the
Dragon," has become not only a masterful showcase for Lee's talents
(both fighting and acting), but in the 31 years since its release has
become perhaps the definitive martial arts movie of all time.
Lee, in his first and last English-speaking performance, stars as a
martial arts expert who is recruited by the British government to
infiltrate an island fortress, under the cover of being invited to a
martial arts tournament, to investigate a possible slavery/drug ring
led by a former nemesis of his.
Indeed something is amiss at this isolated island fortress, as he
discovers that his nemesis Han (Shih Kien) is the host of the
tournament and is also the leader of the same gang that murdered his
sister. Soon enough, Lee, together with two other martial artists,
Roper (John Saxon) and Williams (Jim Kelly), go to work kicking a**
everywhere until the final showdown with the murderous, one-handed
villain Han in the classic "Hall of Mirrors" fight sequence.
"Enter the Dragon," a joint American-Chinese production, was intended
to be Bruce Lee's introduction to Western audiences, but due to his
tragic death just weeks before the film's American release, we will
never know what he would have been capable of here in the states. Even
more tragically, his son Brandon Lee would experience a similar fate
just like his father only 20 years later with "The Crow."
There are so many classic fight scenes, which I can watch over and over
without them ever becoming boring. Many of them still hold up very
well, especially by 2004's standards, where fight scenes are mostly
digitally enhanced or involve "wire" or "Matrix-fu" to make up for lack
of actual stunt work; plus one has to remember that this film was made
in 1973, in the days before wirework would become dominant in today's
martial arts cinema. The "Cavern Fight" is probably my favorite fight
sequence of all time, in any martial arts movie.
Many of the fights in this movie, more specially the ones where Lee is
involved, have a surreal feeling to them. He brings a kind of grace to
his action scenes that have yet to be topped by any actor alive today.
Lee even brings many of his own personal philosophies to this film,
which makes much sense and perhaps help to understand some of the more
philosophical elements to the story. But more than anything, this was
Bruce Lee's entrée to Americans; many people, including myself, were
introduced to martial arts cinema through "Enter the Dragon."
There are also several cameos made by future martial arts stars that
would eventually reach stardom, most notably Jackie Chan (as a henchman
during the "Cavern Fight" sequence who has his neck broken by Lee) and
Sammo Hung (as Lee's sparring partner in the opening fight sequence).
I could go on and on about what makes this movie immortal, but I feel I
should let you see what makes it great. Bruce Lee was forever
immortalized with this film and it will be cherished and praised
Tags for Enter the Dragon Full Movie
, Bruce Lee
, Jim Kelly
, John Saxon
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