Back in the good ol' days, my big brother - a HUGE fan of "Karate movies" - would take me (every other weekend) to the legendary State and Lake theater to see all of the so-called "low budget" martial arts films that many in society (during that time) were tempted to wrinkle their noses at, but which soared, nonetheless, in the urban communities of America. And it had been while I was seated in the middle row at the iconic State and Lake (on the said movie date day) that I'd been given my very first introduction to a man who would eventually stake his claim on a place in my heart forever: the great Master of Jeet Kun Do himself, Bruce Lee.
Yes, it was Enter the Dragon, a martial arts magnum opus and National Film Registry inductee (in which the handsome Lee features as the principal performer) that would cause my emotions to stretch themselves out with infatuation. Unashamedly, I love Bruce Lee...with a passion.
(Clears throat) ...
That puppy, uh, kitty love aside, I shall proceed with my review.
A thriller of respectable proportions, Enter the Dragon stars Bruce Lee as "Lee", an exceptionally-accomplished Shaolin kung fu fighter who finds himself sought out by a British government intelligence agent, who's already in the process of scrutinizing the unlawful activities of a Chinese crime boss named Han. For the British government suspect the villainous Han of being involved in drug trafficking and prostitution, not to mention a string of contract murders. And the British agent convinces "Lee" to take part in a renowned martial arts competition on Han's exclusive island, that he ("Lee") might be helpful in collecting sufficient evidence that will corroborate the British government's suspicions of Han. The offer is one that "Lee" certainly can't refuse, what considering that Han's bodyguard, Mr. O'Hara, is the same who murdered "Lee"'s sister.
From there, the plot unfolds to reveal one of the most excitingly suspenseful and action-packed film works of the Martial Arts genre to date. Indeed, its gifted director Robert Clouse would be innovated by the great visionaries who had preceded his classic epic, Enter the Dragon, with their own cinematic contributions. I speak in particular of The Shaw Brothers (Shaw Brothers Studio), who produced a stream of cult cinema classics, including: One-Armed Swordsman, The New One-Armed Swordsman, 1978's Five Deadly Venoms (the inspiration behind Tarantino's "Deadly Viper Assassination Squad" of the Kill Bill volumes), Come Drink With Me, etc.
Enter the supporting cast: John Saxon as Roper, a gambling addict with a debt owed to Han; Jim Kelly, in his unforgettable performance as Mr. Williams - Roper's fellow Vietnam war veteran; and Mei Ling, who also co-stars as Betty Chung, an undercover operative in the investigation of Han: It is at the martial arts competition where "Lee" meets Roper, Williams, and Chung.
Set in both the United States and Hong Kong, Enter the Dragon is an on-the-edge-of-your-seat, timeless cult action thriller with both flawless direction and performances. The fight choreography and stunts are quite definitive, and the sound effects of each Bruce Lee blow will have your body jerking and your face grimacing in reaction. Truly a badass ass-kicker, if there ever was one.
A phenomenal work of motion picture fiction is the Robert Crouse-directed Enter the Dragon. I found it to be a feature tremendously enjoyable, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is a fan of the great Martial Arts genre.
As it may be of interest, this film is English-dubbed. Its script was originally shot in the languages of Mandarin and Cantonese, respectively.