Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Movie Review: Enter the Dragon 5 Stars

Enter The Dragon is an incredible fusion of Chinese philosophy, exploitation crime thriller and phenomenally-choreographed fight sequences. The movie was Bruce Lee’s last film before his untimely death, but it firmly established his status as the premiere martial arts star and helped usher in a wave of both Hong Kong and American cinema.

Lee is a kung fu master recruited by his own Shaolin teacher and a British intelligence operative named Braithwaite (Geoffrey Weeks) to infiltrate the island fortress of Han (Kien Shih_. Han is a former Shaolin who has disgraced the temple by “dealing in corruption.” Corruption in this case includes the opium trade and a white slavery ring. To stoke the fires even more, Lee discovers that Han’s men murdered his sister (Angela Mao). Lee travels to the island under the pretenses of competing in a brutal martial arts contest which Han holds annually to scout new talent to aid him in his nefarious activities. This event has attracted Roper (John Saxon), a gambler with a price on his head, Williams (Jim Kelly), an American soul brother with a chip on his shoulder called racism (and Whitey put it there!), Parsons, a right bastard with an indistinguishable accent, and several other bad asses. What ensues is nonstop action.

Bruce Lee staged all of the combat sequences himself, which comprise at least ninety percent of the movie. Whether mano-a-mano fistfights or a melee of two hundred combatants, great pains were taken to set up each individual shot for authenticity and safety. This painstaking care in the orchestration of the battles indelibly stamped each scene with realistic integrity in light of the wildly stylistic -- and outstanding --camera work and production design. The fantastic action culminates in the classic dual between Lee and Han in a room of mirrors, aptly chaptered “Reflection of Death.”

No comments: