Enter the Dragon (1973)

(On cable TV, July 2011) Given Enter the Dragon’s importance within the martial arts film genre, it’s a bit surprising that I hadn’t seen the film until now.  Well, that’s now done, and checking this film off my to-watch-some-day list wasn’t much of a chore.  Bruce Lee’s performance is compelling, but the film has, in aging, become a brief period look at early-seventies Hong Kong, followed by a deliciously unconscious take on the James-Bondian “Megalomaniac Island” plot device.  (Better yet is the period-inspired Black-Power character played by Jim Kelly, who definitely doesn’t get enough screen time.)  Even though scripting isn’t high on the priorities of martial arts films, Enter the Dragon has a few interesting refinements: The introduction of the main character is handled through flashbacks, the final fight has thematic visual ambitions, and there are a few well-done moments in-between.  It’s surprisingly coherent, but best of all it leads to a few well-shot fighting sequences that don’t chop the action in excessive cutting.  It’s pleasant to watch, and doesn’t necessarily ask viewers to forgive its flaws.  Lee is fantastic, both charismatic as an actor, and intense as a martial artist (there’s a sequence with nunchucks that will leave most viewers going “wow!”); too bad this ended up being his last film.  This is still well-worth a look; keep your eyes open for a few surprises.  If you think you spot a young Jackie Chan somewhere in the movie, well… you just may be right.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *