A mix of Hong Kong Kung Fu, blaxploitation and James Bond, wrapped up in a revenge story. Enter the Dragon is one of the most iconic movies for people of a certain age from Bruce Lee’s hair to Jimmy Kelly’s Afro, Han's metal hands to Ropers dodgy high kicks Enter The Dragon was the must see film when I was younger. Containing endlessly quotable lines: “Bullshit, Mr. Han-man”.” Why doesn't somebody pull out a .45 and, bang, settle it?” “My style? You can call it the art of fighting without fighting” “Man, you come right out of a comic book.” “Boards don't hit back” “I'll be too busy looking gooood.” “Ghettoes are the same all over the world. They stink” “Don't think. FEEL. It's like a finger pointing at the moon.” “You have offended my family, and you have offended the Shaolin temple”
The theme by Lalo Schifrin is memorable and has a funkiness about it in keeping with his excellent work on Mission Impossible, Bullit and Dirty Harry.
Lee was an icon for a lot of late night cinema goers, and this was his first American Movie, it was doing the rounds at the Odeon on a double bill with Cleopatra Jones, a blaxploitation/Kung Fu movie starring the super feisty Tamara Dobson. Sneaking in to see the X certificate double bill was one of life's edgier moments as a 12 year old, but was worth the palpitations to see this exciting example of Bruce Lee's star power. Nunchukas and multi mirrored halls were talked about next day at school. The talk of the playground was all 'How cool was Jim Kelly?' 'Did you see that time when he broke the blokes neck?' 'Do you think Bruce Lee could beat Muhammad Ali?'
Such was the impact of the film that it became known for it's fight scenes but made the general public aware of Bruce lee who has, since his death become as iconic as Che Guevara and Bob Marley. Director Robert Clouse filmed the famous underground fight scene focusing completely on Lee and this sequence shows how charismatic and watchable he was. Incidentally this scene is watched by Isabelle Adjani and Roman Polanski in his movie the tenant, and they get turned on by the scene.
Although Bruce lee aficionados would point to Jing wu men (Fist of Fury) as his best movie, Enter the Dragon is one of those films that keeps being referenced and referred to both for it's satus and it's perfect box ticking. The only film that has the same status is probably DePalma's Scarface. It's about a certain notoriety and a certain level of violence that, although purely cinematic, at the time felt dangerous. Enter the Dragon and Bruce Lee signify a coolness and a excitement that sticks with me even watching it again all these years after being that nervous twelve year old.