Sunday, February 23, 2014

Enter the Dragon- The F@#%ingest Action Movie Ever Made!!!


Enter the Dragon- The F@#%ingest Action Movie Ever Made!!!                                                                                                                            

                        The Authentic JKD stance. Wachaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!



Original Film Poster. 

Overview:

The title of the movie practically explains it's own significance. The film sparked a revolution of which the action genre was created upon, inspired the many children that would soon become the action stars you see today, as well as be Bruce's last finished work. The film also contained the philosophical elements of martial combat and introduced the concept of mixing different martial arts, which was never incorporated in films before to my knowledge. Bruce, himself, was excited for the role. It was Bruce's coming- back debut in the United States after producing/starring in movies( such as Fist of Fury and the Way of the Dragon) for Golden Harvest Studios which was located in Hong Kong. Bruce was looking for a big break and the people at the Warner Bros. film studios were willing to give Bruce that opportunity. Once all deals have been made, production and the process of movie started to take place in the relativity unknown island of Hong Kong( currently belongs to China) . The filming that took place was done my not just one but two film companies. The collaboration between Golden Harvest Studios as well as Warner Bros. marked Enter the Dragon as being the first Asian- American co-produced film. However, production of the movie did not go as smoothly as people would think.

Bruce faced many struggles in his own life, trying to deal with the masses of people who idolize him as well as make his voice be heard when the director of the film ( Robert Clouse) ignored his suggestions. According to I Am Bruce Lee, the documentary, Bruce would be absent from shootings due to the fact that Robert would not acknowledge his input. Bruce also faced physical issues at this point of his life. He worked, feverishly, to film all of the necessary scenes as well as choreograph the scenes for his co-stars and other actors. Bruce would work all day on the set and pitch an idea to the director, Robert Clouse, in the wee hours of the morning trying to explain an idea that popped up in his mind. Aside from the various misfortunes that occurred on and off of the set during the filming of Enter the Dragon( which I will acknowledge in a more detailed analysis), the film also developed the careers of various martial artists that were to soon to become bankable stars as the years progress. Jackie Chan, Sammao Hung,  Bolo Yeung, Jim Kelly, Robert Clouse, and Bob Wall all owe their success to the film Enter the Dragon. Although their appearances through out the movie may be short, like Jackie Chan's cameo as one of Han's henchmen, each one contains a special moment in which Bruce and the actor would connect in a special way. Now, if I may begin with out making you guys suffer by prolonging the content with two huge topic paragraphs, explain the scenes of the movie that I found to be the best as well as the other aspects of the movie( including the funny encounter between Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee).


Enter the Dragon Best Five Scenes: 

1. The Temple Fight( Beginning Scene of Enter the Dragon):

   


Comparison between a Kempo Glove as well as an UFC glove: 

               VS.          

The beginning part of Enter the Dragon expressed Bruce's Lee prowness in various disciplines as well as managing to defeat a note-worthy opponent. This scene inspired a creation of an entirely different martial art, Mixed Martial Arts. Bruce and Sammao both engage each other with the iconic Kempo gloves which became the trade mark of ever mma fighter today. The fingers of the Kempo glove served dual purposes. First, it allowed the freedom of movement of fingers to allow the hand to grab and engage in grappling. The padding allowed protection of the knuckles when punching for places such as the skull. Also it limits the amount of cuts and lacerations a fighter receives when punched. There is a major distinction between the Kempo and an ordinary boxing glove. The fingers of the boxing glove are close because a boxer has to clench his or her fists to strike. Clinching( grappling)  is rarely allowed in the boxing ring. Almost always, the referee will separate the two boxers from clinching too much due to the fact  that it limits the exchange of shots of thrown. The scene also displayed an array of martial art disciplines that Bruce Lee demonstrated against his counter- part( Sammao Hung). Elements of Wing Chun Gung Fu, Tae Kwon Do, Boxing, and Judo/ Jujitsu were all present in this scene. Utilizing his own philosophy, Bruce Lee believed that a martial artist could be successful with just one martial art. He or she should combine both grappling and striking into his or her skill set. By doing this will allow the artist to adapt to any situation. A memorable technique that Bruce used was when he put Sammao Hung in a submission hold that ended the sparring session shared between the two students of the Shaolin Temple. Any mma enthusiast will most likely assume that he was pulling an arm bar, but it is actually classified as an crucifix neck crank. The Crucifix neck crank is a submission move which originated from the grappling based art of Judo where the opponent's head is forced into his or her chest, while their arms are being held down, at a perpendicular angle. The scene was also the part of the only times where Bruce required a stunt double. Due to the fact that Bruce injured his back while performing Good Morning stretches years before, Bruce could not put any pressure on his spine. As of a result, a stunt man( Yuen Wah) was used to preform the  somersault which transitioned to an inverted head stand.

A passage from the biographical book, states the various stunts that were not performed by Bruce Lee during his entire career, which was only three particular stunts.
Passage from the book, Bruce Lee: Fighting Spirit : a Biography: 

" In Fact, in his entire career Bruce Lee was only doubled in three stunts. In the opening sequence of Enter the Dragon a gymnast did the somersault; this same gymnast later did the back flip in Bruce's controversial fight scene with Bob Wall. Bruce's back flip in Fists of Fury was also doubled."

The fight scene overall made a contribution the creation of mixed martial arts as well as create a memorable fight scene that the later generations of viewers including present day audiences would enjoy.

Video of the First Scene of Enter the Dragon( Temple Monastery):



Pictures of Crucifix Neck Crank:

    

The Arm Bar demonstrated by Bruce Lee - Just For Laughs:

 

2. The Philosophical Parts of Enter the Dragon( Scene with Sifu and with student):

Besides the action scenes in the movie, Bruce wanted to incorporate his philosophy and express the Chinese culture with more beauty in contrast with the various stereotypical roles that Asians were portrayed by in previous decades. In the scene where Bruce is conversing with his master, he confers the ideas of Jeet Kun Do and it's philosophy that a martial artist. These ideas would soon be condensed into quotes.

A notable quote from Bruce as noted below:

“Not being tense but ready.
Not thinking but not dreaming.
Not being set but flexible.
Liberation from the uneasy sense of confinement.
It is being wholly and quietly alive, aware and alert, ready for whatever may come.”

The quote from the conversation that resonates the most is " Destroy the image and you will break the enemy." Lee( Bruce's character) used this concept to find Han( the main villain of the movie) when both of them are stuck in maze that resembled the hall of mirrors. Bruce uses the concept of breaking each and every mirror so that Han will not be able to deceive Bruce by sneaking up on him under the cover of many illusions. In literary sense, breaking the image means finding his or her true motivations then by using it against them. Their strengths lies within their intentions. Once you know their intentions then their entire structure will crumble. 
The quote is very simple yet it implies a much deeper meaning.

It is very interesting in trying to decipher the meaning behind each quote. Each any every quote makes sense and is conveyed very cleverly. Another seen that is influenced by Bruce's philosophy is when Lee( Bruce's character) teaches a pupil how to effectively execute a side kick. The pupil is rather stubborn at first when he is asked to execute the kick. He kicks but it seems as if he is kicking just for the sake of kicking. Bruce comes up to the pupil and criticizes him for his lack of applying emotional content. Emotional content is basically the attitude or the mindset that a martial artist has. The pupil kicks again, in an attempt to correct himself, but is unable to grasp to true concept of Lee's advice. If you look at his facial expression, it seems as if he is gritting his teeth in anger. Lee recognizes his attitude and sternly reminds him that he should control his emotion in contrast to violent movements motivated by anger. By letting anger flow through your mind will cloud your judgment, thus leaving you vulnerable to counter attacks and more likely to make mistakes on an distracted mind. By keeping your emotions in check, you can accomplish various things at once. Your intentions remain unclear to your opponent, you expend less energy and strength, and you can remain focus at achieving your goal are the benefits that result from having a much calmer, but sharper personality. The pupil finally executes the kick with grace and Lee acknowledges his success by sharing even more words of wisdom. Bruce asks the pupil how unleashing the kick felt and the pupil responded by saying that he has to think. Bruce scolds again by smacking his head with his finger and telling him to not think but feel. Bruce is telling his pupil to rely on his instincts rather just using logic to surmount an obstacle. Thinking would only decrease your reflexes in reacting to an attack because you spend time trying to send the best possible solution to a problem. He finishes up the conversation after enlightening the student a fourth time when he gives an example of a finger pointing to the moon. The pupil concentrates on the finger which is a mistake due to the fact that he missed the great sight of the moon. Basically, Lee is trying to tell the pupil to not be distracted because he will miss out on an opportunity. He asks the pupil if he understands and the pupil bows as a sign of agreement. But Bruce corrects him once more by stating that he should never take his eyes off his opponent even when it is to bow. To take your eyes off your opponent would mean giving your enemy the advantage of pulling a dirty trick. 

Videos of the philosophical scenes: 


3. Revenge- Lee vs O-Hara:

        

Game of Relexes

                      

Bruce executes an kick in order to disarm O-hara. 

In this scene Bruce demonstrated his Wing Chun skills when they are pitted against each other. O-Hara was involved in the death of Lee's sister. Lee in return vows to avenge her death by beating O- Hara up to a pulp. First they begin with a battle of reflexes. Bruce wins both battles and seemingly disgraces O-hara. O- Hara tries to trip Lee by going for his legs but Lee counter with a back flip kick. When O-hara recovers he tries to kick Lee with an array of kicks but is countered every time. Then Bruce executes a powerful side kick that send O Hara back several feet. Shocking fact is that Bruce's side kick was so powerful that Bob Wall (O-Hara) broke both of the extra's arms as a group of men tried to cushion his fall. O-Hara rose up and smashed to bottles. Bob Wall was an accomplished  Karate champion and held a ninth degree black belt in Tang Soo Do( the Korean Version of Karate). Bruce justified his kick by stating that he wanted to convey emotional content and he knew that Bob could take a kick with his conditioning. Knowing that he has been out paced in every way deemed possible, O- Hara tries to kill Lee with broken glass of a bottle. When O-Hara lunges with the bottle, Lee outside crescent kicks( with his right leg) at  his fore arm, causing him to drop his knife in response. Then, O-Hara recieves a round house kicks from Lee that knocks him out  senseless. Finally, Lee jumps on top of O-Hara and  stomps on his face, killing him almost immediately. A major controversy arose when filming the part of the scene with smashed bottles. Apparently Bob cut Bruce's arm on accident which resulted in several stitches and halted production time. 

Here is the account of the controversy in Bob's own words: 

" The broken-bottle scene was made dangerous because we used real bottles. Each time you broke them, they broke differently, and the edges were obviously very sharp. However, we did the scene several times perfectly, except that I had to fall into the glass each time. Then there was a mistiming on the seventh or so shot, and Bruce was cut. Bruce’s only instructions to me were to come at him as fast as I could and aim for his right pectoral [muscle]. He then kicked me with a right-leg-forward crescent kick, which hit me between my wrist and elbow. When the accident that cut Bruce’s hand occurred, the kick landed on my arm above the elbow, so the bottle didn’t move, and as Bruce spun around, he jammed his right hand into the bottle. If Clouse had given us [breakaway] bottles, there would have been no problem. But Bruce was into reality-based filmmaking — including the live snake he snatched, which bit him once during the several takes. Bruce had the talent, guts and speed, and he was fearless. That’s why [Bruce Lee movies] stand the test of time." 

Video of the scene- Revenge- Lee vs O' Hara: 










This scene demonstrated Bruce's lightening fast techniques as well as his domination over an typical black belt. It also gave the impression that Bruce could act as well when he is shown conveying multiple emotions all at once when he lands oh O' Hara. 

4. The Cave Fight Scene: 

This scene is part of the final scenes of Enter the Dragon. Lee has to infiltrate the under ground base under the island where drugs are produced and other forms of racketeering occur. He finds the evidence and tries to radio Braithwaite, a British intelligence agent, who gave Lee this assignment. Contacting Braithwaite would give an legitimate reason for the British authorities, who controlled Hong Kong at the time, to arrest Han and close down his operations. However, Lee gets caught when he sets off an alarm when relaying the message to Braithwaite and is forced to fight his way out of  the cave against fifty of Han's security detail. Using a mixture of the wooden pole( bo staff), Escrima sticks, as well as his trust worthy nunchucks, Lee manages to dispatch all of them but is lured into a trap which results in his capture. A humorous  observation is that Lee upgrades his arsenal as he progresses through each group of enemies. He starts off with nothing and he ends up with a pair of nun chucks. This scene also starred the world famous martial arts actor, Jackie Chan, who was unknown in the film industry at time time. Jackie served as an extra and made a surprise cameo in a brief moment when he tries to engage Bruce head on. Bruce's sympathetic side is unveiled when he accidentally struck Jackie Chan across the face with his long pole. Bruce apologized immediately,  and expressed his friendship towards Jackie. He even made a promise to Jackie that he could work in all of his movies after Enter the Dragon was produced. Unfortunately, Lee passed away right after Enter the Dragon was finished. 

* Must watch!!!

Jackie Chan's Best Story Ever- Picks a fight with Bruce Lee and loses Video: 


Enter the Dragon- Part of the Cave Scene:



5. Lee vs Han

The final fight of the whole movie is depicted the epic defiance against superstition as well as finally defeating the main bad guy which is Han. As described at the beginning of the film, Han was once a student of the Shaolin temple where Bruce trained at. He was dismissed permanently for breaking the rules of conduct by abusing his training. Han later runs an criminal empire under the identity of being the place for holding martial arts tournaments. Bruce finally catches up to Han and finishes him off, after receiving cuts to his face and his midsection. These cuts can be seen as one of Bruce Lee's most defining images in his life time.The hall of mirrors is the most memorable part due to the fact that it results in Lee reflecting on his master's quote that breaking the image will break the enemy. Using this concept, Lee smashes all of the mirrors which breaks Han's cover. The two men finally face each other and Bruce delivers a side kick that sends Han flying into a spear head that had been lodged into the revolving glass door at the beginning of the fight when Han tried to thrust the spear into Lee. Han is immediately impaled onto the door and Lee full fills both of his promises by avenging his sister's death as well as restoring the prestige that the Shaolin temple had lost. 



The Iconic Image- Bruce tastes his own blood after Han cut his midsection with his claw- like metallic arm. 

   

Lee vs Han                                                      Battle to the Death
                                                    
                                                           

                                                              Creepy picture of Mr. Han

Enter the Dragon- The Final Confrontation between Lee and Mr. Han: 




Quick Facts On Enter the Dragon- courtesy of Wikipedia and IMDb: 

Directed by:

Robert Clouse
Bruce Lee (uncredited)

Produced by:
Raymond Chow
Fred Weintraub
Paul Heller

Written by: 
Michael Allin
Bruce Lee
Starring:
Bruce Lee
John Saxon
Ahna Capri
Robert Wall
Shih Kien
Jim Kelly

Music by:
Lalo Schifrin

Cinematography:
Gilbert Hubbs

Editing by:
Yao Chung Chang
Kurt Hirschler
George Watters

Studio:
Golden Harvest

Distributed by: 
Warner Bros. Pictures (most territories)
Golden Harvest/Fortune Star (Asia)

Release dates:
26 July 1973 (Hong Kong)
17 August 1973 (United States)

Running time: 98 minutes[1]
Country:
Hong Kong ( China) 
United States

Language: English

Box office:
$25,000,000 (USA)
$90,000,000 (Worldwide)
HKD 3,307,526 (Hong Kong)

Budget: $850,000 (estimated)

Filming Dates: 
25 January 1973 - 2 April 1973

Copyright Holder:
Warner Bros.

Interesting Facts Compilation: 

- Bruce Lee was so nervous in terms of getting all of the scenes done in a fashion that would appeal to American audiences, as of consequence he did not appear on the set during the first three weeks of shooting. He also had to deal with his old boss from Golden Harvest Studios who did not appreciate his departure. 

- Many action stars, martial artists, and actors cite the film Enter the Dragon as their inspiration to study martial arts. 
Some include : Jean Claude Van Damme, Bas Rutten, as well as Ryan Phillippe

- Warner Bros. Originally wanted to call the film Han's Island to prevent confusion. Bruce, however, objected the title idea harshly and as of result the producers of Warner Bros. decided to go with the profoundly awesome title Enter the Dragon. 

- Bruce was challenged by one of the extras to a real fight. The extra was apparently a member of the Tong Triad gang. 

- Bruce also broke the ribs of another extra when accepting a challenge o a fight on the set of Enter the Dragon. 

Bruce main motive for making Enter the Dragon is explained in this quote:

A letter from Bruce to Ted Ashley( Former Chairman of Warner Bros.): 

"You see, Ted, my obsession is to make, pardon the expression, the fuckingest action motion picture ever made." 

As part of the many viewers and fans, I agree that Enter the Dragon is indeed one of the best action movies ever to made. He also accomplished another goal that he would be the highest paid star in Asia, by generating 25,000,000 dollars in the U.S. box office. Enter the Dragon was not only Bruce's most successful movie, it was also his best work. The film has some sort of sentimental value in my eyes due to the fact that it had inspired me to take up martial arts and embrace my own culture, like Bruce in which he had intended to do. 

* In the comments section, I would appreciate it if you could write a memorable moment of Enter the Dragon that you remember watching. If you have not seen the movie( shame : ( ) then just comment on this post. 


2 comments:

  1. In the opening fight scene of ETD there are two parts where a double may have been used. The somersault at the end of the fight but also mid-way through the fight there is a back spring where Lee after being punched, jumps backwards and lands on his hands to spring back up to continue fighting.
    The back spring is one of my favourite scenes but does Lee perform it or is it a double?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for commenting on my article. I have not been active for at least three years due to my busy schedule. In response to your question, Yuen Wah actually did the back hand spring. Yuen served as Bruce Lee's stunt double for Enter the Dragon when Bruce had to do acrobatic stunts. Yuen also performed the back flip kick on O'Hara if I remember in an interview with Yuen. Awesome film, though. Enter the Dragon also contained many break out stars from Hong Kong, such as Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung

    ReplyDelete