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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

Enter the Dragon (1973)



Reviews and Comments

"Boards don't hit back."

This film is one of the most celebrated movies of one of the most celebrated martial artists in history. Perhaps it came at a good time: Bruce Lee had made a few now classic martial arts films by this point, but the genre was still fresh and new. It is also infamous in that Lee died shortly before the movie's release.

But is it actually a good film? Frankly, no. The story is routine, poorly told, and works in some martial arts via the standard plot device of a martial arts tournament. The superficial yet belabored nods to characterization are less effective than if none had been attempted. The dialogue, with a few exceptions, is banal; the climax, unfulfilling; and the production is hopelessly dated. It's not even much as escapist fun: while a good showcase of martial arts, the fighting here is (needlessly) bloody and brutal.

Perhaps it is unfair to judge the movie in this way. Enter the Dragon is really just a showcase for Lee's physical talent, and as that, it does its job very well. Unlike Jackie Chan's films that would follow, however, this one is strictly for martial arts fans only. Jackie Chan, incidentally, plays an extra in the underground finale sequence (don't bother looking for him -- his face flashes by too quickly to be recognized), and Chuck Norris (a student of Bruce Lee in real life) also plays a bit part.