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Enter the Dragon

USA / Hong Kong 1973
produced by
Fred Weintraub, Paul M. Heller, Raymond Chow (associate) for Concord Productions, Sequoia Productions, Warner Brothers
directed by Robert Clouse
starring Bruce Lee, John Saxon, Shih Kien, Jim Kelly, Ahna Capri, Angelia Mao, Bob Wall, Yang Sze (= Bolo Yeung), Betty Chung, Geoffrey Weeks, Peter Archer, Yan Ho Lee, Marlene Clark, Allan Kent, William Keller, Mickey Caruso, Pat E.Johnson, Darnell Garcia, Mike Bissell, Roy Chiao, Sammo Hung, Paul M.Heller, Wei Tung
written by Michael Allin, music by Lalo Schifrin, fighting sequences staged by Bruce Lee, stunt coordination by Sammo Hung

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Now this is an undeserved classic if there ever was one. It was an attempt to re-import Bruce Lee - who had been a TV-star in the USA in the late 1960's but later found fame and fortune in Hong Kong martial arts films - into the American film-industry by throwing him into a crelessly made up martial arts madness. On a financial level, the film was a huge success, on a quality level though pretty much a failure.

On the plus side, the film features many well-staged fights (except for those featuring co-lead John Saxon), but as much could have been expected from Bruce Lee, and he has been in better fights in his other fims.

On the downside though, the producers seem to have had not all that much confidence in their Oriental lead, so they gave him two co-leads, Jim Kelly, International Middle Weight Karate Champ of 1971 and later blaxploitation icon, and B-movie fave John Saxon, a decent actor and even capable martial artist, but quite obviously not trained to fight on film. Then there's Bruce Lee's character which is completely one-dimensional, plus he every now and again has to utter stupid words of alleged martial arts philosophy. And then there's of course the plot ... oh my goodness !!!

 

The plot:

Agent and Shaolin monk Bruce (Bruce Lee) is hired to infiltrate the operation of big time drug kingpin Han (Shih Ken), who lives on his own, heavily guarded private island but holds a martial arts tournament every three years, the latest of which Bruce will join ... now why a drug kingpin who is hell-bent to stay in hiding regularly holds martial arts tournaments is left at everybody's guess, this is where the movie lost me the first time. Oh, and did I mention the baddie's men have killed Bruce's suister ... now that's what I call coincidence ...

For some reason, Bruce is joined by shady businessman Roper (John Saxon), who's on the run from the law, and black fighter Williams (Jim Kelly), who hopes to escape race prejudice.

The island is pretty much the place you wopuld come to expect, consisting of one big fortress where hundreds of martial artists in white throw punches into the air shouting "Hoi Hoi Hoi". Of course, during the day, Bruce and friends fight and win in martial arts tournaments, and during the night, Bruce puts on somehting black and goes investigating, beating up everybody who he bumps into.

Han however thinks that Williams does the investigating and has him brutally killed. Later Bruce and Roper revolt against Han's rule and take on his fighters, first on their own, then they are helped by Han's prisoners, who have since freed themselves and have come to join the execution. It's rather funny to see Han's minions all dressed in white fighting the prisoners, who for some reason all wear black uniforms.

Finally, Bruce tracks down Han in his room of mirrors and fitghts him to the death - a scene that could have been nothing short of great, but unfortunately Robert Clouse is not talented enough a director to develop it to its full potential.

Only after all the baddies are finished do gouvernment helicopters arrive to clean up the mess.

 

Now if this is not one of the most stupid plots a film can have I don't know what is, and even worse is that it's played dead serious - I mean come on !!! Unfortunately though, this film has become the blue print for literally hundreds of (mostly Western) martial arts flicks.

 

By the way, Bruce Lee paused the work on his second feature as a director, Game of Death, to star in Enter the Dragon, his first international film as a lead. Unfortunately he died shortly after finishing Enter the Dragon, but the footage of Game of Death directed by Lee - not the ridiculous film Robert Clouse of all people later made out of it - is way more entertaining (and ironic) than this one.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Thanks for watching !!!

 

 

Robots and rats,
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shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
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Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD