I love Enter the Dragon. I love everything about it. Critical distance? I think not. This is a film I feel particularly strongly about, and one I refuse to discuss in a removed manner. I love Bruce Lee. I love Bruce Lee’s performance. No matter what anyone says, Lee is not just a fighter – he’s also a fine actor and a snappy dresser. I love Lalo Schiffrin’s score – it really is too cool for words. I love Betty Chung’s little yellow shoes. I love the way John Saxon constantly addresses the camera. I love Han’s six identical female bodyguards (each more identical than the last). I love the way Lee offers tea to Mr Braithwaite, the Very British Person. I especially love Jim Kelly (“Man, you’re right out of a comic book!”).
The pleasure I take from Enter the Dragon comes from something more than simply watching the film – I’ve seen it more times than I can count, and, thanks to the buddies I’ve seen it with, it’s turned into a communal experience. As such, watching it alone in order to review the film was a challenge; I couldn’t shout at the GI’s (“it’s only funny if it’s a small helicopter!”) or laugh with anyone about Han’s bizarre bird talon, and I had to endure in silence as Su Lin ran from O’Hara. But, but (and this is a shameless Astor plug), watching the film in a cinema – the Astor, no less – on a BIG screen – the Astor screen, no less – transformed Enter the Dragon into something that Han himself might describe as being of “epic proportions.” While Gilbert Hubb’s Technicolour photography always looked good before, in this format it is truly magnificent – Victoria Harbour, Han’s fortress and Jim Kelly’s ‘fro all look incredible. Similarly, watching the faces of the extras as Lee practices his Art of Fighting Without Fighting (But Actually Really Fighting) on Bolo was a whole new thrill.
If you’ve never seen a Bruce Lee film, start with Enter the Dragon — it’s Lee’s most widely-known film in the West and is probably closest to whatever you’re imagining. Although Fist of Fury is the better film, Enter the Dragon is slightly more accessible as well as being a wild ride that can be enjoyed over and over again (and if you have seen it before… just watch out for those extras)!