STAY CLASSY: Enter the Dragon

enter the dragon

Enter the Dragon turns 40 this month. The film was the last Bruce Lee made, his first big Hollywood movie, and was completed shortly before his death (likely of a cerebral hemorrhage, though the more interesting version was that there was a curse on him, which got some traction again when his son Brandon Lee died of an accidental gunshot wound while filming The Crow).

In the film, Lee plays a gifted, philosophical martial arts student (also named Lee) recruited by a British intelligence agency to infiltrate Mr. Han’s white slavery and drug trafficking ring, located on a secret island, under the guise of participating in one of Han’s brutal martial arts tournaments. Turns out, Han’s body guard murdered Lee’s sister three years earlier, thereby providing ample personal motivation for a take-down of the operation. Along with American martial arts champions Roper and Williams, Lee infiltrates the stronghold and enters Han’s brutal tournament. Some of the greatest fight scenes in cinematic history ensue.

The film is remarkable for its beautifully choreographed fight scenes–mostly directed by Lee himself. It’s a 1970s visual feast, and though the music and clothing are obviously dated, the film actually holds up very well. Think of it as the precursor to The Karate Kid, with Lee as Mr. Miyagi. He imbues the movie with spiritual depth and philosophical statements on human nature that elevate this picture into a credo on violence and self-mastery that still resonates today.

Lee was voted one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century by Time Magazine. Though he didn’t make many movies, his charisma and charm influenced his successors in the martial arts genre. Fun fact: Jackie Chan was a stunt man and this film helped launch his American career.

The recently-released 40th Anniversary Ultimate Collector’s blu-ray includes a featurette on Bruce Lee’s legacy, commentary and memorabilia–perfect for that die-hard fan or new convert. Even if you’re not typically a martial-arts movie fan, this film will win you over with its thoughtfulness, its glorious battles and its heart. Lee is captivating and poignant. A must-see for film buffs.

a href=”” rel=”attachment wp-att-4508″>IreneIrene Karras is a Calgary-based communications consultant and freelance writer with a fondness for 1950s Greek melodramas, 1980s coming of age movies, weird Canadian films, and, by necessity, PG movies. She blogs at and tweets @irene_karras.

Read more of Irene’s posts.


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