Movies, including martial arts movies, are highly subjective. Some people’s idea of masterpiece is another’s idea of corny rubbish.
Today, the 20th July 2013, is the 40th Anniversary of the death of one of the most iconic actors and martial artists of all time, Bruce Lee died 40 years ago today at the age of 32. Lee the legendary iconic screen actor, who almost exclusively ushered in the Martial Arts movement, died from an allergic reaction to a muscle relaxant in a painkiller. Its a massive shame that Lee died at such a young age, but it shows in his status, that even in people who were not even born when Bruce Lee was alive, still follow the name and are massive fans of Bruce Lee today, due to his screen presence, charisma, and expertise that came across in everything he did.
This month also celebrates the 40th anniversary of Enter The Dragon, which was Bruce Lee’s final full film, as he died before the premiere in August. Enter The Dragon is considered by most as Bruce Lee’s best film. I’m not sure the main reason for this, maybe it’s because of the high dose of action and precision martial arts by Lee in nearly all of his scenes (which are actually quite short and tame compared to his other films), or the pure energy of every look towards the camera that Lee would give (no one can beat that), or just the simple fact that this was Bruce Lee’s final film, and with many being so emotionally attached to Enter The Dragon, for those reasons above, and many more. that everyone uses this as a notch in the remembrance of Bruce Lee, and why not.
I personally wasn’t even alive when Bruce Lee died, so i could never have the same feeling as anyone around at that time. The likes of seeing Enter The Dragon in the cinema, or the feeling when the news that this amazing martial artist had died, so maybe due to the different times, I’ve not used these emotions to create such an illusion about how good the film Enter The Dragon was, but, considering its ETD’s 40th Anniversary, i though i would give a few opinions on it.
I watched Enter The Dragon again last night, the night before the eve of Lee’s Anniversary (which I’m sure many Bruce Lee fans did), just to remember how good this film was. It is, its good, but for Lee as an actor, it shouldn’t be on such a high pedestal that it seems to be. Pure and simple, Bruce Lee had been in much better film all round, and its just that some scenes here in ETD are so iconic, and even some sounds are so iconic, that many people regard this film so highly, and why not, as i said at the start ‘Movies Are Subjective’.
For me Enter The Dragon’s pacing is slow, it takes a good 1/3rd of the movie before we see Bruce fly into action, but boy when he does fly, its something to behold. It was then, and now, a B-movie albeit a good B-movie. ETD was a “sleeper” hit in that no one expected it to do so well. It had a limited budget, and used Hong Kong techniques (like sync dubbing and recording with no sound) and so many elements within ETD make the film considered by some as a low-budget martial arts “rip off” of Dr. No, which it is (bad man, on a secluded island, spy goes in to infiltrate), but it also isn’t in many aspects. Surprisingly considering how well remembered some scenes are, these for me include some of Bruce Lee’s most unexciting or anticlimactic fight scenes, but for some of those reasons, being a ‘B-Movie’, being corny, being after dubbed, Lee’s dubbing, and being above a very good b-movie, this causes many scenes from ETD to also be some of his most popular, including some iconic fight scene too. But again it seems some of these fight scenes, which is what Lee would really be all about, due to either lack of time or budget, were not established or complex fight scenes, Most of Lee’s fight scenes here in ETD are far too short unlike the extended fight scenes he has in movies like Fist of Fury, the end of Big Boss, and the famous Chuck Norris battle in Way of the Dragon.
However Bruce Lee’s charisma and intensity is unrivaled….no one can match the on screen intensity of Bruce Lee. NO ONE. Bruce Lee would have been okay that other martial arts films would outdo ETD because his own martial arts philosophy was that everything had to evolve for the better. Bruce Lee’s high pitched ki-ai, is still used whenever martial arts is parodied in TV or movies. Can James Dean even say he left that much of an impression in modern culture? You don’t see a lot of people quoting Dean’s, “You’re tearing me apart!” But everyone knows whenever someone says in falsetto, “ahhhhhhhyiiiiiii”.
Its that there that makes Bruce Lee such an icon, the likes of that sound “ahhhhhhhyiiiiiii” used by so many people today,Lee who put this impression in modern culture, he acting expertise, charisma and intensity, make Bruce Lee today, someone that everyone still wants to be. Its a shame that he died at such a young age, as it would have been fascinating as a movie goer, a action fan, a fan of extreme talents, to see what Bruce Lee would have been doing in his 40s 50s or 60s, and behind the camera he could have been someone special too. I’m glad thought that still now, people still look up to Bruce Lee, in more ways than one, and his legacy continues to get stronger everyday