Friday, January 6, 2017

Bruce Lee Stardom: Enter the Dragon

Welcome back one and all for Day 4 of Bruce Lee Stardom. Well we are here. It feels far, far too soon but time does not die and we can no longer ignore the film of today. I did think about including some of the Kato info of Green Hornet and that cross-over he had with Adam West era Batman buuuuuut... I think we will go head long into an enjoyable movie of excitement, danger and really wild things...that could also be a line from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Meh, I'll take it gladly.   This film is sadly Bruce's last performance when he died on July 20th 1973 at the age of 32. Crossing racial barriers, stereotypes and teaching us lowly Waiguo ren (Outlander) the ancient martial arts of his country and developed Jeet Kune Do (his own style of Kung Fu, Wu Shu, Chinese Boxing and Wing Chun). In 2004, the United States National Film Registry deemed this movie the end all that sparked the "Kung Fu Kraze"so why not end of a decent action flick. This is Enter the Dragon.

You in deep kimchi now my friend.

Lee (Bruce Lee) is summoned by invitation to a martial arts competition on a island owned by a one Han Lee (Kien Shih of Enter the Dragon, The Young Master, Hong Kong 1941, Shanghai Express, Goodbye My Love, Magic Crystal and Lady in Black) who as Lee's Sifu (master/teacher or mentor) explains he was once a pupil at this very school but he abused the code of conduct of a Shaolin student and was banished. British Intelligence (Still owned Hong Kong via the Empire) goes to Lee asking him for his help in an undercover sting operation as Han is suspected to be involved in the drug trade and prostitution but no formal investigations can go underway as his island is out of their jurisdiction. Every three years, Han holds this tournament for suspected new recruits so for the honor of the Shaolin temple they plead for Lee to assist them.

Jeez, Mr Roper was never like this with Jack, Janet and Chrissy.

No sooner is he heading for the island, his father tell Lee that one of Han's bodyguards Oharra (Robert Wall of The Way of the Dragon, Black Belt Jones, Game of Death, Enter the Ninja, Code of Silence and Firewalker) is responsible for the death of his sister Su Lin (Hapkido expert Angela Mao of The Angry River, Deep Thrust, Hapkido, Back Alley Princess, Thunderbolt, Stoner, The Association, The Invincible Kung Fu Trio, International Assassin, Duel in the Desert and Moonlight Sword and Jade Lion). Armed with this information it is not an option to back out with family obligation and his house's honor at stake.

Frat hazing going on!

On the junk boat to the island, Lee meets two Americans also asked to this shindig, Roper (John Saxon of Gunsmoke, Shalimar, The Electric Horseman, Cannibal Apocalypse, Fantasy Island, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Dynasty, Falcon Crest, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, Nightmare Beach, The Baby Doll Murders and From Dusk Till Dawn) wise cracking gambler with a streak of bad luck these days and Williams (Karate expert and Blaxploitation superstar Jim Kelly of Enter the Dragon, Black Belt Jones, Three the Hard Way, Take a Hard Ride, Hot Potato, Black Samurai, Black Belt Jones 2 and Afro Ninja). Our contenders are given food, drink and the women of their choice before the exhibitions are held (cough fight to the death cough cough) Lee starts exploring the island and find large quantities of heroin distribution levels and enslaved women in cages. Cue Cleopatra Jones for some whoop ass!

Each man must come to the decision, work for Han and get paid very well or die at the hands of his undefeated champion Bolo (10 Year Mr. Hong Kong Body building Champion Bolo Yeung of Thunderkick, Kung Fu Massacre, The Young Dragons, Challenge Me Dragon, Game of Death, Black Belt Jones 2, Way of the Dragon 2, Bloodsport, Bloodfight and Double Impact). It's the choice offered to many men. Be a slave in heaven or a star in hell.

And now some trivia. Jackie Chan was a young extra as one of Han's henchmen. This is only one of two English based language films that Bruce got to speak in his natural voice rather than being dubbed. The other is Marlowe. The frickin' cave fight scene, Bruce takes on 51 men with nothing but hands, feet and trust nunchuck. 
Over a million dollars in 1973 was spent on advertisement alone bring an array of different posters, TV ads and interviews of the stars mostly focused on Bruce taking the country by storm. With his popularity still of Green Hornet with Van Williams and Longstreet with James Franciscus in syndication, this 5'7" man had captured so many Americans with his wit, charm and ferocity.

Damn, think Jim Kelly warmed up his pimp slap hand.