ENTER THE DRAGON (1973)
Honestly, what better way to celebrate the spirit of giving, loving, and bad wool sweaters than to watch Bruce Lee kick the shit out of everyone? My point exactly. Let's just say it, yes? Enter The Dragon (1973) is better than flying sabertooth tigers, badass mama cats, and Tom Hardy rapping. Enter The Dragon is basically better than everything. It's really not hard to see why. Bruce Lee (thinly disguised as Lee) takes on a case of 007 proportions when he agrees to join a martial arts tournament on an exclusive island to spy on an evil crime lord. To top it all off, it's a martial arts movie with undercurrents of spy thriller and blaxploitation, revenge films and redemption films. The best part of the movie for me is the way it's set up. A clear, straightforward plot, filled to the brim with lively characters. Despite the fact that it's an exciting action movie, the action is really just a nice little side dish to what is a wonderfully character driven flick.
|Image from midnightonly.com|
Next up, Roper's Nam pal and token black friend, Williams, played by Jim Kelly. Williams is a cool cat with a happenin' jive, whatever that means. He's the kind of man who is constantly followed by a funky theme song and often found getting shafted by the po-po. What's a brotha to do? Beat the pigs up, that's what. The great thing about Williams is while he fulfills basically every blaxploitation stereotype, including his unquenchable sexual appetite, you've got to hand it to the guy, he does it all in style. I mean, after watching him pull his sweet martial arts moves, what small army of hookers wouldn't throw themselves at him?
As for the bad guys, we have a couple worth mentioning. First up we have Parsons, played by a guy who will never work again after this movie. He's one of the fighters in the tournament who isn't so much a bad guy as he is a straight up bully--he beats on the help, which is a clear sign that he's a psychopath. Parsons is a great character not because of anything he does, but because of his purpose in the story. He's simply there to add weight to the tournament so it's not a bunch of guys we like beating each other up, and he adds a nice extra layer of tension to the story (and then satisfaction when he gets his ass handed to him). In short, it's just plain smart screenwriting. As for the real villains, we've got the evil millionaire who pulls all the strings, known only as Han (Kien Shih). Han has a great deadpan evil thing going, but more than that, he's missing a hand and replaces said missing hand with various cruel hooks. So. What more can you really want from that? For henchmen, he's got Bolo (the thinly disguised Bolo Yeung), who is the prime example of what happens when you mate with an ox. Really, terrifying human being. And then there's O'Harra (Robert Wall), who is sleazy as hell and sports a scar across the side of his face to prove it. Oh, and he killed Lee's sister. Prepare to die.
|"Bolo no like you like that!"|
Speaking of the sister, a moment for the women. There's a an undercover woman played by Bette Chung, who really does fuck all. But she keeps a platonic relationship with the male lead, so that must make her some sort of super spy. Lee's sister on the other hand is a total badass. Su Lin (Angela Mao) proves herself to be worthy to carry Bruce Lee's blood in her veins when she gets chased down by an army of men and knocks them down like dominos. She pwns the hell out of any sinister man who crosses her path, and it's only after four minutes and a multitude of extras that they finally corner her and prompt her to kill herself to save her honor. Speaking of extras...holy shit. Is that Jackie Chan?
In short, Enter The Dragon is really the Christmas gift that keeps giving. To hell with a puppy, I want nunchucks in my stockings. Which are also better than Arnold's Pizza Shop.