Dragons and pandas and martial arts have come together in this week’s focus on animated films. Taking the dragon and martial arts motifs far more seriously is the first martial arts films produced by a major American studio, “Enter the Dragon,” from 1973. In most communities across the country, there are several martial arts studios for children interested in the eastern modes of self-protection and discipline, this movie was a major factor in the development of that interest.
In “Enter the Dragon,” Lee (played by Bruce Lee) is a Shaolin disciple who is chosen to go to the island of the mysterious Han, to compete in an international martial arts tournament. Han, a disgraced Shaolin himself, is suspected of being involved in opium trade. Lee agrees to use the competition as a pretext for stopping Han’s criminal activities. Also going to the tournament with hidden agendas are two American fighters: Roper (played by John Saxon) and Williams (played by Jim Kelly). They all travel to the island on a boat, and shortly after, the tournament begins. Soon, all of the fighters learn that Han and his men are even more dangerous than they realized.
“Enter the Dragon” features some of the most formidable fight scenes ever put on film. One of the best is the climax, which is set in a room full of mirrors. Another good fight scene is in a flashback and shows Lee’s sister fighting several men. Like her brother, she is quite fast and strikingly skilled.
The late Bruce Lee is incredible in the lead role. He almost plays himself, since his character’s name is Lee, and he is an expert martial artist. Seeing him in combat is a lot of fun. He makes the viewer wish he had lived longer, as he would have gotten to be in more films.
“Enter the Dragon” is a must-see for any action fan, as well as fans of Bruce Lee.