Enter the Dragon

 

Enter the Dragon

Written by Michael Allin

Directed by Robert Clouse

1973


Production:

Theatrical:  Warner Bros. & Concord Productions

Video: Warner Home Video


Video:

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Resolution: 1080p

Codec: VC-1

Disc Size: 31.38 GB

Feature Size: 17.58 GB

Bit Rate: 20.36 Mbps

Runtime: 103 minutes

Chapters: 29

Region: All


Audio:

English Dolby Digital 5.1

Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0

French Dolby Digital 1.0

English Dolby Digital 2.0


Subtitles: English, French & Spanish


Extras:
• Blood & Steel: The Making of Enter the Dragon (30 min.)

• Bruce Lee: A Warrior's Journey (100 min.)

• Bruce Lee: The Curse of the Dragon – narrated by George Takei (87 min.)

• Bruce Lee: In His Own Words (19 min.)

• Linda Lee Cadwell Interviews (16 min.)

• Backyard Workout with Bruce: Vintage Home Movies (2 min.)

• Theatrical Trailers and TV Spots


Standard Blu-ray case: 1 disc

Release Date: March 27, 2007

Comment

I think it's fair to say that, as far as the West is concerned, Bruce Lee is the person most responsible for bringing martial arts into the cinematic lexicon.  He died in mysterious circumstances (reprised by his son, Brandon, 21 years later), which has only enhanced his status as Icon.  Though born in San Francisco, Bruce Lee was raised in the Hong Kong area and received formal martial arts training during his adolescence.  After running afoul of the local police, Lee (nee: Lee Juan Fan) was sent back to the States where he eventually directed his training to more popular and more socially agreeable ends, among them a season for the 1966/67 television series, The Green Hornet, and personal martial arts trainer to the stars (e.g. James Coburn and Steve McQueen.)  Lee returned to Hong Kong where he was to make a series of films that right from the start became very popular, especially with Chinese youth.  The last of these was Enter the Dragon, financed by Warner Bros., but made in Hong Kong.  Lee's bizarre and totally unexpected death, especially considering the degree to which he seemed to care for his personal temple, led to the international distribution of his earlier films.


     


The theme that we see in each of Lee's movies is the idea of Right eventually becoming victorious over Wrong.  There is also present a tradition of martial arts for the sake of discipline rather than brutality that gives way to violence following a personal tragedy at the hands of ruthless criminals.  We've seen this theme played out in many a western and in gangster and noir films.  The good guy puts away his guns, vowing never to use them again, until . . . The idea has profound dramatic potential.


     


The Score Card


The Movie : 6

Martial artist and philosopher Lee is recruited by the good guys to infiltrate an island fortress believed involved in the narcotics and prostitution trade.  The owner of said island, one Mr. Han (Shih Kien), hosts a martial arts tournament visited by competitors from all over the world.  Among the present group are two Americans in need of escape and money (John Saxon and Jim Kelly) and a couple of ferocious bad guys, Bolo (Bolo Yeung) and Oharra (Robert Wall).  Lee is at first reluctant to join the operation until he learns that Han's men (vide the face-scarred Oharra) were involved in the death of Lee's sister some years earlier.  Once ensconced on the island, the competitors engage in brief deadly encounters on the mat that serves as foreplay for the sex – or vice-versa – the sexism is so rampant it's hard to tell.  The final duel between Lee and Han evokes the great Hall of Mirrors sequence in Welles' The Lady from Shanghai.  Everyone probably has their favorite scene where Lee shows off his stuff.  Mine is the lightning fast move with his fist that takes the breath away, quite literally.


     


Image : 6/7

The image is a little soft and saturated, lacking in shadow information (both color and detail), though this is no worse than we would have seen in the theatre – probably better in most cases.  The vistas of Hong Kong harbor and the intimate shots of the junks passing through are some of the more interesting shots of the movie and are nicely preserved. The source print is in surprisingly good shape; grain and noise is generally unobtrusive.


Image quality for the extra features varies from acceptable (widow Cadwell interviews) to dismal (home movies) and everything in between.  Aspect ratio pretty much covers the possibilities, even within a single feature, most often in 4:3 except when quoting an excerpt from the movie.


     


Audio & Music : 6/7

In reviewing Chinese movies of this vintage tweaked for the Western market, it's hard to ignore the truly dreadful dubbing and looping of the Asian actors.  Even Bruce Lee sounds forced and disembodied.  On the other hand, this is all part of the charm of Chinese martial arts movies until quite recently, including the lack of variety in the sound of the various kicks and punches.  This all comes with the territory, and the transfer clarifies the intent shamelessly. The overall effect in remastered 5.1 is somewhat compressed, but not more than expected – certainly a much more exciting and involving mix than anything that Hong Kong cinema was to produce on its own in those days.


     


Operations : 5

Because of the many chapters of some of the extra features (as many as 27) there appears to be no easy route back to the main menu or main feature without advancing through them one-by-one.  Much easier to Stop and Play.  Selected thumbnail scenes are readily identified (as can be seen from the screen capture.)  Likewise, the selection of the desired extra feature is self-guiding, though something of a chore to return to the movie or main menu.


     


Extras : 8

This Blu-ray DVD makes the point for the medium: a feature film of nearly two hours plus another four hours worth of supplementary material: all on a single BD-50.  With no High Def extras, we must rely on our display's ability to upscale the various Bruce Lee documentaries.  And bloody good ones they are – the 2000 Warrior's Journey is certainly more absorbing than the feature film itself - pretty much covering Lee's career and legacy from every conceivable angle.  Even though these supplements probably could not have been presented otherwise, I took off 2 points for image quality, since the length of some of these becomes tiring to watch on a large screen.


     


Recommendation : 9

Enter the Dragon is seminal Bruce Lee.  He even gets help from Saxon, Bolo and Kien.  The photography is good and the choreography justifies all the historical fuss. The transfer is better than we have any right to expect.  The Extra Features are essential to an appreciation of Lee's place in the history of action films.  We should be grateful.  Warmly Recommended.


Leonard Norwitz

LensViews

April 20, 2008


     






          
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