peteg's blog - noise - movies - 2024 04 10 EnterTheDragon

Enter the Dragon (1973)

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The name is Lee, Bruce Lee, and this was the last of his leading-role features for me to catch up on. I hadn't realised just how much Brad Pitt ripped off his persona in Fight Club and similarly how literally Tarantino lifted much of this for Kill Bill.

The plot is a train wreck. Notionally Bruce and other martial artists are drawn to an island off the coast of Hong Kong for a tournament. Everyone has their reasons for being there, told in dissolved flashback, but the premise doesn't survive Bond-adjacency. John Saxon co-leads as a suave Sean Connery-esque American gambler with debts and scruples who happens to know Jim Kelly from the American activities in Việt Nam from six years prior. Kelly gets all the ladies because Bruce is too busy taking care of business as instructed by his Shaolin-descended master.

The climax is unsatisfying perhaps because it is unclear master villain Kien Shih can take it to Lee; there's a lot of in-close shots and choppy editing in all the fight scenes. What's with the missing hand? — things got pure Wolverine at the end. The Brits turn up too late to do anything useful. I had to wonder who'd be dumb enough to be a stunt man in a Bruce Lee flick in 1973. There's some great cinematography especially of Hong Kong harbour; it's a bit of a time capsule like Melville's take on roughly contemporaneous Paris.

Everything is at Wikipedia. An early blaxploitation! Once again Jackie Chan is apparently in there somewhere.