Enter The Dragon Blu-ray Review
Whenever you watch a groundbreaking genre film, it’s important to avoid comparisons to more modern films that it paved the way for. Such is the case with Bruce Lee’s American debut, ENTER THE DRAGON. Imagine walking into a theater in 1973 and not knowing who Bruce Lee was and not being that familiar with martial arts films. I compare that feeling to people in 1939 watching GONE WITH THE WIND for the first time or movie goers in 1977 experiencing the grandness of STAR WARS on the big screen. So sure, we’ve seen better martial arts movies since 1973 and much, much better choreographed fight scenes, but ENTER THE DRAGON brought Bruce Lee and martial arts to mainstream America and despite its flaws, the film still holds up relatively well today.
Bruce Lee plays Lee, an exceptionally skilled martial artist that is recruited to investigate the crime lord Han, who authorities believe is running a drug business on his island. To get close to Han, Lee agrees to participate in a martial arts tournament that hosts some of the best fighters in the world. So think BLOODSPORT, MORTAL KOMBAT or TEKKEN and remember ENTER THE DRAGON the next time you play a tournament style video game. Lee is joined by Roper (John Saxon) and Williams (Jim Kelly) who are there for their own reasons. While most of the focus on ENTER THE DRAGON is on the martial arts, it’s important to give the film credit for its racial diversity, including an Asian in the lead for the first time. It seems trivial now, but in 1973, it was a big deal to have such a diverse film.
It’s the 70’s, so of course we have some cheesy sound effects. I’ve seen the film a dozen times and I still get annoyed every time a loud pop sound goes off when someone gets punched. I don’t think the film showcases Bruce Lee’s amazing skills nearly well enough, but it gave us a glimpse into what he was capable of. Bruce Lee did his own stunts and suffered several injuries while filming, including cutting his hand, getting bitten by the snake and of course, several punches. Keep an eye out for Jackie Chan, who attacks Bruce Lee during the cave fight scene (and subsequently gets his neck broken by Bruce Lee). It’s great to see Bruce Lee in action, but it would have been great to see him in a highly detailed, choreographed fight scene that could really showcase everything he was capable of.
The film starts and stops with Bruce Lee. With all due respect to John Saxon and Jim Kelly, the entire film is spent waiting for Lee to get back on screen. As a huge fan of Bruce Lee and his son, Brandon Lee, I can’t help but feel a bit of sorrow every time I watch ENTER THE DRAGON because it’s a shining example of what could have been an incredible movie career. If you have never seen ENTER THE DRAGON, then I highly recommend checking it out, whether you’re a fan of the genre or not. In the pantheon of martial-arts films, it stands out from the crowd as being not only a great martial-arts film, but also just a really good movie.
ENTER THE DRAGON BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: ENTER THE DRAGON is an old film, but Warner Bros. does the film justice and preserves the quality with this newly remastered presentation. The film has never looked so good.
Audio: WB also gave ENTER THE DRAGON a shiny new lossless audio track to match that newly remastered video. Amazing.
With the exception of the documentary A Warrior’s Journey (which is not included on this 40th Anniversary Edition), everything is carried over from the original Blu-ray release, along with several new features. I’ve reviewed the “new” features below:
No Way As Way (25:58): This is kind of an odd featurette in that it features new interviews from Sugar Ray Leonard, George Takei and others intermixed with vintage footage of Bruce Lee. It’s okay, but I don’t think it will offer anything new to Bruce Lee fans.
Wing Chun (20:02): This is a great featurette, showcasing martial artists around the world discussing Bruce Lee’s fighting style. Great stuff for martial arts fans everywhere.
Return to Han’s Island (10:03): This is exactly what you’d think; a tour of Hong Kong and the locations used in the film.
Carried over from the original Blu-ray release:
Commentary with producer Paul Heller and writer Michael Allin
Curse of the Dragon (87:12)
Blood and Steel (29:57)
Linda Lee Cadwell Interviews (16:03)
In His Own Words (18:56)
1973 Archive Featurette (8:01)
Trailers and TV Spots