Enter the Dragon

By 1973, the marital arts genre was nothing new, but Bruce Lee took it to new heights with what would be his final completed film, Enter the Dragon. The movie gave a worldwide theatrical audience a glimpse of his genius as a true star and as an action hero second to none, performing feats that boggle the mind even in today’s jaded milieu of wire-enhanced stunts and computer-generated effects. Lee starred as, well, “Lee,” a gifted Shaolin martial artist recruited by British intelligence to compete in an exclusive tournament staged by the suspected opium lord, Mr. Han. He defeats all challengers, uncovers the truth about the ruthless operation, and even avenges his sister along the way. The action culminates in a brutal showdown with Han’s army and then with Han himself in one of the most thrilling final acts in movie history, all choreographed by Lee.

1213dragon.box.jpgThank goodness for Warner’s remastered 40th anniversary Blu-ray. While not reference quality by any means, modern technology is able to divulge greater nuance and richness in the 35mm Technicolor element. The grain structure varies, but seldom is it distracting, while colors appear to be accurate, with a pleasing warmth. There is a softness to the 2.4:1 image, which left me longing for more precise detail, particularly in the scenery, but I’d wager that this is an issue with the source materials. Shadows can appear stark, but I’ve still never seen Dragon look better than this.

Don’t expect an engrossing new remix or a grand revelation about the vintage sonic fidelity, though, as this track can also be considered best-ever but bound by production realities. The original sound was surely constrained by budget, schedule, and the technology of the era, but this DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 incarnation is a worthy complement to the upgraded visuals. I noted just enough surround and bass activity to keep it all interesting, with the occasional deep drum thump or discrete shout to help draw me in.

Quite a lot of featurettes have been ported here from past releases, plus a producer/writer audio commentary, although the feature-length A Warrior’s Journey documentary has been dropped. In its place are three new segments exploring The Man, his fighting style, and the shooting locations. An envelope also contains assorted bits of physical memorabilia: an embroidered iron-on patch, a motion lenticular card, prints of rare photos, and more.

Studio: Warner Bros., 1973
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio Format: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Length: 98 mins.
MPAA Rating: R
Director: Robet Clouse
Starring: Bruce Lee, John Saxon, Jim Kelly