As Enter The Dragon is one of the most famous and successful martial arts movies ever made, most people tend to overlook the fact that, in essence it really is a formulaic spy film. The biggest difference between it and a myriad of other spy films is that rather than using a collection of gadgets and dirty tricks to complete his mission, Bruce Lee has to use his martial arts skills to get him out of the situations he finds himself embroiled in. Despite this lack of conventional weapons, Mr. Lee at no stage looks troubled by the forces that are opposing him.
The plot for Enter The Dragon is simplicity itself. British Intelligence knows that Dr. Han is the head of a massive heroine operation, but they cannot prove it. Han lives on a remote island and as on the surface, he has committed no crime, the authorities cannot move against him. It’s a catch-22 situation – they can’t get proof about Han’s illegal activities without going onto the island, and they cannot go onto the island without proof. But every four years Han allow strangers onto his island to attend a martial arts tournamnet which he runs. Han uses the tournament to find and recruit new talent for his heroine distribution network. Han’s tournament attracts the best talent from all corners of the globe.
Braithwaite (Geoffrey Weeks) from British Intelligence requests that Bruce Lee attends the tournament and infiltrates Han’s operation and provide proof of illegal activities. Initially Lee is reluctant, but once he finds out that his sister Su was accosted by some of Han’s men – and subsequently killed herself – Lee sees the tournament as an opportunity to extract a bit of vengeance on his sister’s behalf.
Han’s tournament attracts a wide variety of fighters, and apart from Lee, two of the more interesting characters are Roper (John Saxon) and Williams (Jim Kelly). Roper is a smart mouthed hustler who just happens is down on his luck lately. After the mob come to collect an outstanding debt, and Roper has to defend himself, he decides it’s time to leave town. Williams is ablack American who has been persecuted all his life due to the colour of his skin. Over the years he has learnt to fight back. Williams is forced to leave town after a run-in with some racist police officers. Both men find themselves competing at Han’s tournament.
The real highlight of Enter The Dragon is the fight choreography. The fight scenes, large and small scale are impressively put together. From this film, it is easy to see why, thirty years after his death, people are still infatuated with Bruce Lee – the man – and martial artist.
Like I alluded to earlier, the plot for Enter The Dragon may not be the most original, but as a display of martial arts, this film has very few peers. It is thouroughly entertaining and not to be missed.