DVD Reviews \ Enter The Dragon

As everyone knows, this is THE classic of the Martial arts genre according to the film industry and the general public. Say 'Kung Fu' and most people would reply, 'Bruce Lee'. Say 'Kung Fu film' and I'll bet the answer would be 'Enter the Dragon'. I'm talking about the western world here as I'm sure most eastern folk would answer the latter with one of his other films. Bruce wanted nay, craved a hit movie for the whole world. One that would showcase not only himself but his beloved Martial Arts and Chinese culture. He certainly achieved his dream but in my opinion he had to trade off a lot of his charisma, talent and technical skill to get it.The problem (If there is one) with this film is that we have a kind of 'Justice League of America' type team-up rather than a sole hero to cheer on. In his other films Bruce single-handedly has to solve the problem, defeat the bad guys and look great while doing it. Warner Bros. were so nervous of a Chinese being the Star of an International movie that they had to spread the action between Superman(Bruce), Batman (John Saxon) and The Flash (Jim Kelly). Therefore I think Bruce is a bit diluted in this film. He gets to be the supreme fighter and have all the best action, no doubt! That he is the STAR is without question, but John and Jim get all the best lines and it's a good job that we as an audience are rooting for them too. If Bruce had lived I'm sure Warners would have returned to the 'Lone Hero' type premise, and maybe we would have seen the first TRUE International Bruce Lee film.

The Film

The film is touted as 'Fully Restored' on the cover. Notice NOT Digitally Remastered. Because of this it cannot compare with the restoration quality of the Hong Kong Legends discs. It is a good transfer of a good print, though it seems that not much has been done to remove scratches etc.The picture is on the grainy side. This isn't a fault, the Technicolor film stock used in the early 70's always had this level of grain and so Enter the Dragon is no different on this score. Sound is a re-mixed 5:1 DD and is....ordinary. It won't shake your speakers and yet it dosen't sound false either. There are some sound faults present, but it's not the mix that's at fault it's the fact that music cues are missing in two key scenes, namely the Roper/Han conversation in the Museum and the moment when Han's men bring Roper out onto the Tournament field before the climax. If you compare this version to the regular one, you'll see how much better these scenes play in the older version. There is also a noticeable glitch when Lee chases Han into the museum. In the regular print the music, sound effect and action are beautifully timed together as Han smashes his arm through the glass case. In the 'Special Edition' it plays like this; action, glass- smash, end of music cue. Totally wrong...why?Because this was the 25th aniversary edition two short scenes were added that were deleted from the original(International) print but not the Asian one. By inserting them again I feel the 'flow' of the movie has been altered and I think they should have been on the disc as a 'deleted scenes' feature.For completists the music only track can be accessed, which is a bonus if you don't already own the soundtrack cd. Subtitles in English, Spanish and French are available also.

Menus

A number of static menus/text based features can be brought up via your remote control, although colourful, they aren't a patch on anything by HKL.On the features/menus you can see plenty of rare b&w and colour stills from the film along with the usual 'behind the scenes' shots. The problem with these pictures are that they're too small.

Here's a listing of the Text features:

Cast And Crew:

(Biographies on all the leading actors/crew personnel)

The Significance of belts in the Martial Arts: ( a bit of 'padding' for the uninitiated - R1 ONLY)

Jackie Chan - Heir to the Throne: (A potted biography/filmography of Chan along with several stills. Certainly an odd choice of 'padding' for a disc celebrating Bruce Lee - R1 ONLY)

Hong Kong Retrospective: A scetchy run-though the history of Hong Kong Martial Arts films. Some of these details are incorrect, but altogether a nice addition for the casual movie buff - R1 ONLY)

Commentary

This is by the producer Paul Heller with a little help from script writer Michael Allin (who appears to be talking via a phone from somewhere). A totally uninspiring effort when compared to Bey Logan's detailed offerings. There was one or two nuggets I gained from listening to this, but they were few and far between. The two of them offer little in detail/depth of the movie and even fail to spot Jackie Chan when on screen with Bruce. Must do better next time(?) boys.

Film Based Extras

This is where the disc offers the best features:

Linda Lee Intro:

I know I'll probably incur the wrath of many Bruce Lee fans when I say that I can't stand the ex-Mrs. Lee's ramblings in any film/documentary presentation. She waffles on here about this being the version of the film that Bruce wanted us to see. This appears on the screen after the Warner logos and to skip it I'd suggest selecting play from the chapters (29 of) screen.

Location Hong Kong:

The Legendary 'Robin's Nest' mini documentary that has been ripped off in many a Bruce Lee documentary, presented here in a fine looking (though grainy) print.

Linda Lee Interview:

Broken into many segments, boy can this woman talk!

Bruce Lee In His Own Words:

Take some old clips, add plenty of existing sound bites, put on some nice music/titles and what of you got? A (thankfully) short piece of over-reverential/sentimental codswallop and perfect padding for a disc like this. This won an award? COME ON!?

Backyard Workout:

Yes, we've all seen these b&w 'home movies' that Bruce made, but never looking this good, though the relevence to the main feature is abstract to say the least.

Trailers (4) and TV Spots (7):

A veritable archive of ad's for the movie. A must- see on first viewing, but monotonous on repeats. Still a nice document of the times when the film was released and re-released into cinemas.

Summary

So is this 'Special Edition' very special? I have to say no. There are copious amounts of unrelated waffle/padding on this disc. The version presented hereis a strange hybrid and would have benefited from the inclusion of the well-loved (for 25 yrs) 'Regular' version as a comparison. It's obvious to me that the two short additional scenes don't fit with the rest of the film. Look at the evidence: Lee fights Sammo Hung. It's nice and sunny! Exit Lee to meet the Abbott(Roy Chiao) suddenly it looks like Winter! Leaves all over the ground, chilly looking sky, a bit of a wind too? No wonder it was cut.Suddenly he visits Braithwaite, sunny again! In the other tiny clip(in the mirror-maze) don't you think Bruce is acting a little 'hammy'?-check out his mannerisms.The 'regular'version is now probably consigned to the dustbin of our memory(much like the first version of 'Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind'), but I know which I prefer.

Rating out of 5: