With Enter the Dragon, Bruce Lee was no longer a superstar in Hong Kong, but all over the world. The film represents his return to the Hollywood movie business with this joint venture between America and Hong Kong. It was what he wanted ever since he worked on The Green Hornet. Tragically, he would not live to see its success that he worked so hard for.
I think Enter the Dragon truly represents Lee’s philosophy of adaptability. With this the was able to provide entertainment to both moviegoers in the east and in the west. It’s a great work of compromise that is not compromised. Warner Bros was still it certain though of a Asian man as a lead. Lee was concerned that since the cast was Asian and American, it would be edited to put him back in the sidekick role to John Saxon. So what does Lee do? Goes and shoots the opening scene so that as soon as the film begins you know it’s Bruce Lee’s show.
Structurally, the Enter the Dragon is a James Bond film. You have one man, being sent in to a villain’s island lair. There’s gorgeous settings, beautiful women, henchmen and all the trappings with that franchise. I love the Bond films, but I have to admit Enter the Dragon is the best Bond film of the 1970s. Yes that includes The Spy Who Loved Me. There isn’t much substance to it, but it’s an absolute ride of martial arts action from start to finish. If it had become a franchise, it would have given Bond a run for his money. I watched the theatrical version of the film which moves along swiftly at 99 minutes.
Enter the Dragon remains one of the best films of its genre. It’s quite the testament to Bruce Lee’s spirit and legacy. It’s also strongly bittersweet because his career built to this moment and with his passing, never would get a moment like that again.