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Category:    Home > Reviews > Martial Arts Cycle > Action > Gangster > Enter The Dragon (HD-DVD)

Enter The Dragon (HD-DVD)


Picture: B†††† Sound: B-†††† Extras: B-†††† Film: B



There is no doubt that Bruce Leeís Enter The Dragon (1973) would have been a hit, but after his still-disturbing death, the hit became a megahit and is the peak of his promising career that would never be.Fortunately, it remains far above most of the Martial Arts Cycle films that were launched with the likes of Five Fingers Of Death and continued until the late 1970s when people finally got over the initial shock that Lee was gone.


An academy for Martial Arts is run by murderous opium lord Han (Kien Shih) whose illegal business dealings go beyond drugs and the school is being used as a front to legitimize the dealings.Unfortunately, he kills one young lady whose brother Lee is played by Lee and he wants revenge.The result is a hardcore action film like no other.Some of Leeís greatest work and frankly the greatest work in action cinema history happens here.This includes his highly elevated combination of several martial arts that puts the bullettime of Matrix-era Martial Arts features in the dust.


Lee choreographed all of the fights, all the way to Hunís infamous tournament, a high watermark in action cinema.It was quickly duplicated, including in a spoofy scene form Guy Hamiltonís James Bond film The Man With The Golden Gun a year later.Among the cast is Jim Kelly, who became a Martial Arts star of the time and all-time B-movie actor John Saxon, who hit his stride at this time, including as memorable villains in hit TV shows like The Six Million Dollar Man (as the friend of Steve Austin replaced by a killer robot that inspired the Maskatron action figure) and Wonder Woman (the great WWII First Season where he invades Paradise Island on behalf of the Nazis and Debra Winger debuts as Wonder Girl) pushing him irresistibly into A territory.Though Robert Clouse directed the film, it is Lee who is the true author of the fight sequences and world cinema has been spending over 33 years since trying to catch up.They have barely come close.


Then there is Lee, one of the great icons of the 20th century, in and out of cinema.It is always with sad irony that one watches this film, seeing one of the great stars of all time at the peak of his power.The camera loved Lee and he knew how to give it his all, something his son Brandon inherited to a great extent before tragedy struck him.Lee knew his audience and knew people loved to watch because he was so groundbreaking, what he was doing was way ahead of its time and like nothing that had ever been seen before or since.He loved what he did and his skills were only matched by his charisma and energy.Enter The Dragon captures this energy like only big screen filmmaking could and remains immensely popular decades later and will endure for many more.No wonder Warner picked it as one of their first classic HD-DVD titles.Anything less would have been a missed opportunity.


We have had to suffer through so many substandard versions of this film that even the standard DVD has issues, but this 2.35 X 1 1080p digital High Definition image drop kicks all previous versions to the side.There are some signs of older film stock grain and age in parts, but the color richness, depth, fullness ands even detail are some of the best in either HD format so far.Shot in real anamorphic Panavision by Gilbert Hubbs and the use of color is exceptional, processed in three-strip (IB) dye-transfer Technicolor prints.The source here reflects how amazing that could look, though an actual such print would even be more spectacular, but everyone is abuzz about how fine this looks.There are some limits and other issues with the print as far as age is concerned and some more work could be done, but this blows-away most scope films shot in lesser Super 35mm, which cheats to get the same frame with less film frame area used.This will be a demo HD-DVD for a long time to come.


I cannot say the same about the sound.The Lalo Schifrin score is up to his prolific work from the time, and in this mix, is the main feature of the Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 surround mix as it had been with the standard DVDís regular Dolby Digital 5.1 mix.However, that places too much of the dialogue and sound effects in or too towards the center channel.To make things worse, this has harmonic distortion that gets in the way.A new remix was called for, especially for such a good transfer, but this falls short.There is a better import DTS sound standard DVD with a mix that is much more involving.It too has issues, but is much better than this.


Extras seem to be missing some a past commentary track by Paul Heller, but TV spots, theatrical trailers, vintage home movies of Lee, interview gallery with widow Linda Lee, a vintage on location promo featurette for the film and four more documentary featurettes.That is almost all the extras from the past double DVD set, but they all are great and only make this version of Enter The Dragon the one to own.



-†† Nicholas Sheffo


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