Saturday, 4 April 2009

When the opponent expands, I contract. When he contracts, I expand. And when the opportunity presents itself, I do not hit. It hits all by itself.

No 474 - Enter The Dragon
Director - Robert Clouse

HI-YAH.... And other such noises. When watching Enter the Drago, you have to remember what a genre defining film it was, specifically in the whole 'Exploitation Cinema' movement as it was the first American martial arts film. It is because of this that the film feels clichéd - with the gloriously 70s framing, including crash zooms and brilliant brilliant damn near iconic score.

What made this film even better is that I had no option to watch it in Cantonese. The only option available to me was bad English dubbing, which really enriches the whole experience... Especially when the Engish people are speaking English with terribly dubbed English accents. It is just a beautiful sense of ludicrousness.
This is not Martial Arthouse. This is good old stupid chopsocky. And it is good. And your socky will be chopped.

Whilst the film itself was directed by Mr Robert Clouse, the fight scenes are what really matter an they were choreographed by Bruce Lee. It is at this point, before we go any further, that we have to comment on Lee and his phenomenal physical presence. He is an amazing fighter and he might pull silly faces and make silly noises when he fights, but even so. I wouldn't want to be up against him even if I was in a suit of armour. With a hundred axes. Which were burning. The man is just a skin sack of muscle. He has muscles on his muscles on his muscles and almost literally nothing else. What an impressive and utterly intimidating figure.

But it does make for some excellent fight scenes. As well as Lee (who has a surprising lightness and comedy as well as being kick-ass) we are introduced to a whole range of other fighters. For this is a martial arts competition and it has attracted a lot of people. Who are all hilarious in their 70s splendour. There are however two that need a special mention. The other 'Good Guys' in this competition.
  • Roper - Gambling addict who falls in love too easily and who is cocky and arrogant and helps Lee with the trouble and the fighting.
  • Williams - the true star of this little story. An utter stereotype of a black American in the 70s. With his giant afro and hip cat jive talk. He is full of comedy gold as he has sex with four women at once. You just want him to win everything. He is the king of king fu disco. I bloody love him.
The plot of the film is, of course, nonsense. There is a story about Lee's family being killed, and the concept of honour being a critical driving force (a concept which is probably lot on a lot of the western audience). A government agency hires Lee to sign up to a martial arts competition as a spy. Spying on the organiser of the even who is evil and dastardly.

And he is evil and dastardly. He appears to have come from the Big Book of Bond Baddies. Han - is an Asian Christopher Lee, mixed with Dr No. He has a detachable robotic hand that he occasionally swaps for absurdly un-useful weapons (oooh a furry plank of wood with nails in. How I tremble) and, almost by necessity, he has a white cat.
His evil plot is almost as absurd and impractical as he is (lets get people addicted to heroin in my secret underground lab then we can easily get them shipped off in the white slave business.... all from my SECRET island).

But then we don't watch this for the plot

We watch it for the fighting.

And the fighting is good.

1 comment:

Hugh said...

Bruce Lee is such a legend and the fight scenes are what truly defined his films. I only found out that he choreographed them himself recently and what martial arts genius he applied. His films are classics that will never die out but in order to appeal to future generations I think this article makes a good point of picking up on the dodgy English voice overs the movies consisted of. I think they should get some translation agencies on board to help edit and re-launch these films.