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Enter the Dragon is a 1973 Hong Kong martial arts action film directed by Robert Clouse; starring Bruce LeeJohn Saxon and Jim Kelly. This was Bruce Lee's final film appearance before his death on July 20, 1973. The film was released on July 26, 1973, six days after Lee's death, in Hong Kong.

In 2004, Enter the Dragon was deemed "culturally significant" in the United States and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.[3]

Enter the Dragon was the first Chinese martial arts film to have been produced by a major Hollywood studio – Warner Bros. and was produced in association with Golden Harvest and Lee's Concord Production Company. The film is largely set in Hong Kong.

Among the stuntmen for the film were members of the Seven Little Fortunes, including Jackie ChanSammo Hung and Bolo Yeung. This was arguably instrumental in Chan and Hung's further association with Golden Harvest studios, which later launched their careers. The portly Hung is shown fighting Lee in the opening sequence of the movie and Chan shows up as a henchman when Lee is discovered inside Han's underground lair.

The finished version of the film was not significantly different from the original screenplay. Bruce Lee did not revise the script. Bruce Lee directed the film's opening Shaolin Monastery fight sequence. Lee wanted to use the film as a vehicle for expressing what he saw as the beauty of his Chinese culture, rather than it being just another action film. The original script contained most of the dialogue in the movie.[4]

ContentsEdit

 [hide*1 Plot

Plot[edit]Edit

Lee is a Shaolin martial artist from Hong Kong who possesses great philosophical insight into martial arts as well as physical prowess. He receives an invitation to a martial arts competition on an island organised by the mysterious Mr. Han. Lee learns from his Sifu (teacher) that Han was also once a Shaolin student, but had been expelled from their order for abusing their code of conduct.

A man named Braithwaite from British Intelligence approaches Lee and asks for his help in an undercover mission. Han is suspected to be involved in drug trafficking and prostitution. However, since Han's island is only partly in their jurisdiction, they are unable to conduct any formal investigations - Han will not allow firearms on the island, both to impede assassination attempts and to prevent the international authorities from gaining a justification to launch a raid. Han runs a martial arts school to protect his drug operations, as well as holding his tournament every three years to recruit international talent to expand his criminal business. Lee agrees to help Braithwaite, believing his efforts will also redeem the Shaolin honor that Han has tarnished. However, Lee then also learns from his teacher that Han's bodyguard O'Hara had been involved in the death of his sister, Su Lin. Despite feeling ashamed of himself, Lee then finds himself compelled on a mission of revenge as well.

Lee arrives on Han's island and receives a warm reception. Joining him are other competitors including Roper, a down-on-his-luck white American playboy-gambler on the run from the mob, and Williams, an African-American activist on the run after defending himself against two racist white policemen in Los Angeles. Roper and Williams are old friends who also have a betting scam going: one will under-perform until the other can get a bet on the outcome at good odds. Both win their first fights easily.

That night, the competitors are all offered girls of their choice by Han's assistant, Tania. Williams chooses several women, while Roper cunningly chooses Tania (as a mutual attraction is apparent between them). Lee asks for a girl he saw earlier in Han's entourage. Lee knows she is Mei Ling, an agent whom Braithwaite had placed on the island to gather intelligence. However, she has been unable to escape Han's strict observation. That night, leaving Mei Ling in his bedroom, Lee begins searching the island for evidence and finds a secret entrance to an underground base, where drugs are being manufactured and tested on unwitting prisoners. He runs into Han's guards but manages to take them down and flee before they can identify him. He is seen by Williams, who is outside for some fresh air and practice, despite strict rules against being outside after dark.

The next day, Han warns the competitors about wandering out of their rooms at night. He punishes his guards for failure in their duties by leaving them to the hands of the sadistic Bolo, Han's chief bodyguard. Moments later, Lee is called to his first match and his opponent turns out to be O'Hara, who is clearly outclassed and eventually killed when he attacks Lee with broken bottles. Announcing that O'Hara's dishonorable attack has caused him to lose face very badly, Han ends the day's matches. Later, Han summons Williams and accuses him of attacking the guards the previous night. Williams denies this, claiming he wasn't the only one out at night, but declining to name Lee. As the argument heats up, Han summons his henchmen; Williams takes them out but Han himself is also skilled and beats Williams to death with his cast iron prosthetic left hand.

The next day, Han takes Roper on a tour of his underground base and invites him to be his representative for his heroin smuggling operations in the United States. Roper is reluctant, but Han shows him the mutilated corpse of Williams, hinting that Roper will face the same fate if he refuses to cooperate. The same night, Lee breaks into the underground base and gathers sufficient evidence to warrant Han's arrest, but sets off an alarm while messaging Braithwaite. After fighting with dozens of Han's guards he is eventually lured into a trap and captured.

The next morning, Han asks Roper to fight Lee as a test of his loyalty. Roper refuses, so Han has him fight Bolo instead, but Roper defeats him. The infuriated Han then orders all his men to kill both Lee and Roper. Despite being hopelessly outnumbered, Lee and Roper manage to hold off the enemy until Mei Ling releases the captives in Han's underground prison, who join them in the fight and even the odds. Amidst the chaos, Han attempts to fight his way out, only to have Lee chase him to his museum, where Han retrieves a bladed replacement for his hand. After realising he is outmatched in the museum, Han retreats into a room full of mirrors, which proves disorientating for Lee, until he smashes all the mirrors to foil Han's illusions and allow him to defeat Han, impaling him on his own spear. When Lee returns to Roper, he finds that most of Han's men have been defeated and rounded up, but Roper also finds Tania's lifeless body lying amongst the wreckage. Lee and Roper exchange a weary thumbs-up just as military helicopters arrive in response to the distress call.

Cast[edit]Edit

Production[edit]Edit

[1][2]Jackie Chan's character gets his neck snapped by Bruce Lee

The scene in which Lee states that his style was the style of "Fighting Without Fighting" and then lures Parsons into boarding a dinghy is based upon a famous anecdote involving the 16th century samurai Tsukahara Bokuden.[10][11]

Jackie Chan appears as a guard during the underground lair battle scene and gets his neck snapped by Lee. He also performed several stunts for the film, including the scene where Lee's character quickly climbs a rooftop at night. However Yuen Wah was Lee's main stunt double for the film, most notably for the more acrobatic feats in the film, such as flipping over the abbot's arms at the beginning and the scene where Lee does a back-flip when O'Hara catches his leg during their fight.[12]

Music[edit]Edit

Further information: Enter the Dragon (soundtrack)

Argentinian musician Lalo Schifrin composed the film's musical score. While Schifrin was widely known at the time for his jazz scores, he also incorporated funk and traditional film score elements into the film's soundtrack.[13]

Reaction[edit]Edit

Box office[edit]Edit

In 1973, Enter the Dragon grossed an estimated $25,000,000 in North America,[14] and an estimated $90,000,000 worldwide,[14] on a tight budget of $850,000.[15]

In India, the movie opened to full houses. In Hong Kong, the film grossed HK$3,307,536[14]—huge business for the time, but substantially less than Lee's Fist of Fury and Way of the Dragon. As of 1999, Enter the Dragon has grossed more than $200,000,000 worldwide.[16]

Critical response[edit]Edit

The film was well received by critics and is regarded by many as one of the best films of 1973.[17][18][19] Critics have referred to Enter the Dragon as "a low-rent James Bond thriller",[20][21] a "remake of Doctor No" with elements of Fu Manchu.[22] J.C. Maçek III of PopMatters wrote, "Of course the real showcase here is the obvious star here, Bruce Lee, whose performance as an actor and a fighter are the most enhanced by the perfect sound and video transfer. While Kelly was a famous martial artist and a surprisingly good actor and Saxon was a famous actor and a surprisingly good martial artist, Lee proves to be a master of both fields."[23]

The film currently holds a 95% approval rating on the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes, with 43 reviews counted and an average rating of 7.8/10.[24] In 2004, the film was deemed "culturally significant" by the Library of Congressand selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.[25]

The film also ranks #474 on Empire magazine's 2008 list of The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time.[26]

Legacy[edit]Edit

The film has been parodied and referenced in places such as the 1976 film The Pink Panther Strikes Again, the satirical publication The Onion,[27] the Japanese game-show Takeshi's Castle, and the 1977 John Landis comedy anthology film Kentucky Fried Movie (in its lengthy "A Fistful of Yen" sequence) and also in the film Balls of Fury. Several clips from the film are comically used during the theater scene in The Last Dragon.

In August 2007, the now defunct Warner Independent Pictures announced that television producer Kurt Sutter would be remaking the film as a noir-style thriller entitled Awaken the Dragon.[28]

The film was considered for two of the American Film Institute's 100 series lists. Lee's character was considered a possible candidate for AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes and Villains list.[29] The film itself was also a candidate for AFI's 100 Years...100 Thrills, a list of America's most heart-pounding movies.[30]

American Film Institute recognition

Home video releases[edit]Edit

DVD[edit]Edit

Universe (Hong Kong)

  • Aspect ratio: Widescreen (2:35:1) letterboxed
  • Sound: Cantonese (Dolby Digital 5.1), Mandarin (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: Traditional, Simplified Chinese, English, Japanese, Korean, Indonesian, Malaysian, Thai, Vietnamese
  • Supplements: Trailer, trailers for Way of the DragonThe Big BossGame of DeathLegacy of Rage, star files
  • All regions, NTSC

Fortune Star – Bruce Lee Ultimate DVD Collection (Hong Kong)

  • Aspect ratio: Widescreen (2:35:1) anamorphic
  • Sound: Cantonese (DTS 5.1), Cantonese (Dolby Digital 5.1), Cantonese (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), Mandarin (DTS 5.1), Mandarin (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: Traditional, Simplified Chinese, English
  • Supplements: Original trailer, new trailer, still photos, slideshow of photos, celebrity interviews, unseen footage, Game of Death outtakes, Enter the Dragon alternate opening, 32-page booklet
  • Region 3, NTSC

Zoke Culture (China)

  • Aspect ratio: Widescreen (2:40:1) anamorphic
  • Sound: English (DTS 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), Cantonese (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), Mandarin (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: Traditional, Simplified Chinese, English, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Portuguese, Indonesian, French
  • Supplements: Audio commentary by producer Paul M. Heller and screenwriter Michael Allin, "Blood and Steel: Making of Enter the Dragon", "Bruce Lee: In His Own Words", Linda Lee Cadwell interview gallery, "original" 1973 making-of featurette, "Backyard Workout with Bruce Lee"
  • All regions, NTSC

Warner – 30th Anniversary Special Edition (America)

  • Aspect ratio: Widescreen (2:35:1) anamorphic
  • Sound: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • SupplementsDisc 1: Audio commentary by producer Paul M. Heller and screenwriter Michael Allin, "Blood and Steel: Making of Enter the Dragon", "Bruce Lee: In His Own Words", Linda Lee Cadwell interview gallery, "Location: Hong Kong with Enter the Dragon" original 1973 documentary, "Backyard Workout With Bruce Lee" Disc 2: "Curse of the Dragon" feature-length documentary, "Bruce Lee: A Warrior's Journey" feature-length documentary, theatrical trailers, TV spots
  • Region 1, NTSC

Warner – 25th Anniversary Special Edition (America)

  • Aspect ratio: Widescreen (2:35:1) anamorphic
  • Sound: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Supplements: Audio commentary by producer Paul M. Heller and screenwriter Michael Allin, Isolated music score, an all-new introduction and interview with Linda Lee Cadwell, "Location: Hong Kong with Enter the Dragon" original 1973 documentary, "Backyard Workout with Bruce", "Bruce Lee In His Own Words", theatrical trailers, TV spots, cast and crew biographies, "Significance of Belts in Martial Arts" notes, "Heir to the Throne" – Jackie Chan notes, retrospective of Hong Kong martial arts films notes and stills, behind-the-scenes notes, reel recommendations – 16 movies
  • Region 1, NTSC

Warner – Limited Edition (United Kingdom)

  • Aspect ratio: Widescreen (2:35:1) anamorphic
  • Sound: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Supplements: Audio commentary by producer Paul M. Heller and screenwriter Michael Allin, isolated music score, an all-new introduction and interview with Linda Lee Cadwell, "Location: Hong Kong with Enter the Dragon" original 1973 documentary, "Backyard Workout with Bruce", "Bruce Lee: In His Own Words", theatrical trailers, TV spots, cast and crew biographies, 10 exclusive Enter the Dragon postcards, 8 reproductions of original lobby cards, reproduction of the original press brochure
  • Region 2, PAL

Blu-ray[edit]Edit

Kam & Ronson (Hong Kong)

  • Aspect ratio: Widescreen (2:35:1)
  • Sound: Cantonese (DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1), Cantonese (Dolby True HD 7.1), Mandarin (Dolby Digital EX 6.1), Thai (Dolby Digital EX 6.1)
  • Subtitles: Traditional Chinese, English, Thai
  • Supplements: "Alternate opening credits", trailer, photo gallery
  • Region A

Warner (North America and South America)

  • Aspect ratio: Widescreen (2:40:1)
  • Sound: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), French (Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono), Portuguese (Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French, Portuguese
  • Supplements: Audio commentary by producer Paul M. Heller and screenwriter Michael Allin, "Blood and Steel: Making of Enter the Dragon", "Bruce Lee: In His Own Words", Linda Lee Cadwell interview gallery, "Location: Hong Kong with Enter the Dragon" original 1973 documentary, "Backyard Workout with Bruce Lee", "Curse of the Dragon" feature-length documentary, "Bruce Lee: A Warrior's Journey" feature-length documentary, theatrical trailers, TV spots
  • All regions

Warner (40th Anniversary Edition - Remastered)

  • Aspect ratio: Widescreen (2:40:1)
  • Sound: English (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1), French (Dolby Digital Mono), German (Dolby Digital Mono), Italian (Dolby Digital Mono), Japanese (Dolby Digital Mono), Japanese (Dolby Digital 2.0), Spanish (Dolby Digital Mono), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0), Polish (Dolby Digital 2.0), Russian (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Japanese, German, Italian, Greek, Korean, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Turkish
  • Supplements: Audio commentary by producer Paul M. Heller and screenwriter Michael Allin, "No Way As Way", "Wing Chun", "Return to Han's Island", "Blood and Steel: Making of Enter the Dragon", "Bruce Lee: In His Own Words", Linda Lee Cadwell interview gallery, "Location: Hong Kong with Enter the Dragon" original 1973 documentary, "Backyard Workout with Bruce Lee", "Curse of the Dragon" feature-length documentary, theatrical trailers, TV spots
  • All regions

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