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Enter the Dragon

Any Hong Kong/martial arts movie fan worth their salt has some version of Bruce Lee's classic Enter the Dragon in their collection. Unlike most of Lee's other films, Enter the Dragon never fell into the distribution hell of the "gray market", and so the home video versions have never been the sort of stuff you will find in the DVD bin of your local Family Dollar store. So I'm sure most of you out there already have a copy of Enter the Dragon that is perfectly serviceable.

Well, kiddies, get ready to throw those DVDs or ratty old tapes into the trash, or punt them off to your friends who are still stuck with watching dubbed copies of Fist of Fury on their 13 inch TV/VCR combo that they bought on clearance at Wal-Mart.

This release really should be a no-brainer purchase for those of you out there with a Blu-Ray player. But if, for some reason, you're sitting on the fence as to whether to upgrade or not, rest assured that this will be some of the best cash you've ever spent on a home video release. The film has never looked and sounded better, and the almost five hours of extras are sure to please any Bruce Lee fan.

Sure, this isn't the sort of Blu-Ray you're going to throw on your setup to impress your friends -- there's plenty of bombastic pablum out there like Journey to the Center of the Earth which will fit that bill. But for a movie that was produced for a relatively low budget in Hong Kong nearly forty years ago, the Blu-Ray of Enter the Dragon holds up surprisingly well. In particular, the scenes around Han's inner lair pop off the screen, and Lalo Schifrin's distinctive score sounds fabulous.

As this is a "budget" Blu-Ray, running around $20, the solid transfer of the film would be enough reason to purchase this disc. But Warner Bros. went well and above the normal call of duty, throwing in a boatload of extras that make many other DVDs/Blu-Rays seem puny by comparison. These include:

  • Blood and Steel (30 min.): A new featurette made for this release that brings in most of the western cast and crew that worked on the film. It doesn't really offer anything mind-blowing, but the home movies of Bruce working on-set are worth checking out.
  • In His Own Words (20 min.): This is mostly comprised of an 1971 interview Bruce did on the Pierre Berton Show mixed in with archival footage and clips from the movie. Bruce is quite candid in this interview, and his views on things like martial arts and the Hollywood system are interesting to watch.
  • Linda Lee interview (16 min.): Bruce's widow regularly draws ire from his fans for her supposed inaccurate/glossed-over re-tellings of events, but fans would still be well-served by taking a look at this and what Linda says about Bruce's life when he was away from the cameras.
  • Location: Hong Kong (8 min.): A one-reel promotional piece that was sent to the US press before the release of the movie. It's borderline racist in places -- the narration features choice phrases like "inscrutable Orientals". Overall, though, this is a fun look into how movies were promoted before the age of YouTube.
  • Backyard Workout (2 min.): If you ever had any doubt as to how hard Bruce Lee hit people, then check this bit out. It's short, and looks like crap since it was filmed on a janky early home video camera, but this is a great example of Bruce's kung fu philosophy and skill put into motion.
  • Curse of the Dragon (90 min.): George Takei's (Sulu from Star Trek) hammy narration brings down this documentary a bit, but for the most part, this is a well-made look into the life of Bruce and his son Brandon. (A full review of this documentary can be found here.)
  • A Warrior's Journey (100 min.): Generally regarded as the best of the Bruce Lee documentaries, the inclusion of this extra alone makes a purchase of this Blu-Ray money well-spent. Bruce Lee fans that haven't seen the footage included here of his deleted scenes from Game of Death are in for a real treat. (A full review of this documentary can be found here.)
  • Trailers/TV Commercials (16 min.): A collection of thirteen theatrical trailers and TV commercials. These are fun to check out for the 1970's grind-house cheese factor, but it would have been nice if some Chinese versions of the trailers were included as well.
  • Commentary: Probably the one real weak link in the extras, producer Paul Heller delivers a very dry commentary. There are a few nice insights into the film-making process thrown in, but Heller's flat delivery compounded by silent gaps make this commentary a chore to get through.
So, as you can hopefully see, the Blu-Ray version of Enter the Dragon is packed to the gills with great content, and a tremendous value at only twenty dollars. If you have a Blu-Ray player, this should definitely be one of your first purchases for it. It's a great example of what the medium can deliver, and other companies should take note of what Warner Bros. did here.