August 5, 2023

ENTER THE DRAGON: Bruce Lee Lives in 4K

1973 / 99 min & 102 min (2 cuts)
Review by Mr. Paws😺

Enter the Dragon was obviously not the first martial arts-themed film, but unquestionably the most influential. Not only did it set the bar by which all subsequent fight fests would be measured, it single-handedly brought the genre to mainstream audiences - on this side of the pond, anyway - and made Bruce Lee an instant cultural icon (though he died before the film was even released). 50 years later, his legend still looms large.

So from a historical standpoint, Enter the Dragon is one of the most important action films of the 1970s. It’s therefore essential viewing, even if one’s personal tastes don’t necessarily lean toward exploitation. Besides, it transcends that dubious label through the indubitable skills and charisma of its star.

In this era of CGI, green screens and wire-work, Enter the Dragon still impresses. The perfunctory plot has Lee entering a martial arts tournament to uncover a drug & prostitution operation run by its host, Han (Shih Kien), but it is mostly a clothesline to hang jaw-dropping fight sequences, all performed without special effects. And while Lee’s abilities are truly something to behold, he’s not the whole show here. Co-stars Kien, John Saxon and Jim Kelly demonstrate considerable chops as well (no pun intended).

Guess who just gave his cat a bath.
But the fighting isn’t the only reason Enter the Dragon remains memorable. While peripheral players are mere cannon fodder, the primary characters (good & bad) are engaging, each with interesting qualities beyond using their fists. None of the performances are Oscar worthy, though better than exploitation films like this usually warrant. Lee is terrific even when not snapping necks, while Saxon amusingly manages to steal a few scenes for himself.

Revisiting Enter the Dragon in 4K UHD is like watching a brand new movie. Admittedly, I’ve never seen any of the numerous Blu-ray editions, but the overall image here is outstanding. The first scene alone is so colorful and vibrant that it’s hard to imagine the film has looked this good since its original release. It sounds terrific, too, with Dolby Atmos and DTS-HD 2.0 tracks. Unfortunately, this disc is extremely light on bonus material, which is odd considering previous Warner Bros. Blu-rays had hours of special features. It’s the only major drawback on an otherwise excellent release.



INTRODUCTION - By Linda Lee Cadwell (Bruce’s wife).

AUDIO COMMENTARY - By producer Paul Heller and screenwriter Michael Allin.


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