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The cinematic martial arts exploits of Bruce Lee are legendary and for the film’s 25th Anniversary Warner Home Video has seen fit to issue ENTER THE DRAGON ($25) on DVD as a Special Edition. It’s hard to believe that Bruce Lee has been gone for twenty-five years; just the mention of the martial arts genre still brings images of Lee to mind. While completely entertaining, ENTER THE DRAGON evokes the era in which it was made. During the early seventies, Hong Kong martial arts films (Kung-Fu movies) where noted for exaggerated sound effects during fight scenes and bad dubbing the rest of the time. Since ENTER THE DRAGON had the backing of Warner Bros., its higher production values eliminated the bad dubbing, but the film retained the requisite exaggerated sound effects.

In ENTER THE DRAGON, Bruce Lee portrays Lee a Shaolin monk who participates in a martial arts tournament sponsored by a former Shaolin named Han (Kien Shih). Government authorities use Lee to infiltrate Han’s island fortress and gather evidence against the criminal mastermind, thus closing down his drug operation. Additionally, defeating Han will restore the honor of the Shaolin, who were disgraced by his treachery. The cast of ENTER THE DRAGON also features John Saxon as Roper, a hopelessly indebted American martial arts expert and Jim Kelly as Williams (a rather obvious nod to blaxploitation audience). Director Robert Clouse has effectively styled ENTER THE DRAGON as though it were a James Bond adventure which elevates it above standard Hong Kong action fare. Additionally, the films numerous fight sequences were choreographed and brilliantly executed by Bruce Lee.

Warner Home Video certainly has done right by ENTER THE DRAGON. ENTER THE DRAGON has been given a good looking Letterboxed transfer which restores most of the film’s 2.35:1 theatrical framing; plus the DVD contains the anamorphic enhancement for wide screen televisions. Additionally, ENTER THE DRAGON film has three minutes of previously unseen footage restored to the body of the film. The three minutes of restored footage concerns the philosophical tenants of the Shaolin and does not effect the action sequences. On DVD, ENTER THE DRAGON is about as sharp and detailed looking as the film has ever been. Sure there are a few minor blemishes on the film element, but they are negligible. Color reproduction could not be faulted for a film of this vintage. Digital compression artifacts were never troublesome.

ENTER THE DRAGON has been given a Dolby Digital 5.1 channel re-mix for this release. When one considers what a Hong Kong action movie from the early seventies usually sounds like, I found the re-mix on this DVD to be incredible. No- no one will ever mistake this soundtrack for that of a new movie, but the sound people over at Warner did quite a bit with very little. Lalo Schifrin’s jazzy/oriental score comes out on top, however the mix does use the discrete channels to spice up the sound effects. Even the surround channels had a few very effective moments. Other soundtrack options include a matrixed Dolby Surround compatible track, plus French and Spanish language tracks. Subtitles are offered in English, French and Spanish.

The interactive menus offer access to the DVDs wealth of supplemental features. Included are theatrical trailers, TV spots, production notes, a 1973 behind the scenes documentary, plus a new documentary featuring interview footage of Lee discussing his life, career and philosophy. There is also an audio commentary featuring producer Paul Heller and writer Michael Allin, plus a recent interview with Bruce Lee’s widow Linda Lee Cadwell.

All in all, Warner Home Video delivers an amazing package at a bargain basement price. Fans of Bruce Lee and Hong Kong action movies will want to own this DVD. Absolutely recommended.




DVD reviews are Copyright 1998 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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