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Review Enter the Dragon 4K Blu-ray (1973): A must own classic!

genre: martial arts, action, crime

50 years ago, Enter the Dragon became an instant classic that still has impact today. Now, I must admit that when it comes to Bruce Lee, I might be a little biased. Although I will be very critical if I need to be. I don't think that will diminish the great man he was. 

I am going to be honest here. I never quite understood why Enter the Dragon is revered as THE martial arts film that started it all. The Shaw Brothers studios were the ones who popularized Kung fu all over the world. Toddler me couldn't even understand the language, but I did dig the action and everything else. Many people did all over the world. The martial arts genre already had its place in the film world. Sure, it was the first Hollywood (co)production to feature an Asian lead, but did that really make things easier for Asian actors in Hollywood? Jackie Chan had been struggling to make an impact in the US many years after. And almost every significant Asian filmmaker like John Woo or Tsui Hark were met with restrictions. But perhaps it was that for the first time it had impact on the mainstream. In the same vein as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon did for the Wuxia genre. Although, let me be frank here. Who cares? People who don't like martial arts very likely aren't going to be fans of the genre no matter what you do. John Wick for example might have been an introduction of Hong Kong type action to mainstream, but will it have a lasting effect. I doubt it. Since, The Matrix, also is an example that did the same, yet people of today keep saying how John Wick reinvented action. No, it didn't. But that's another discussion.

That being said, Enter the Dragon had a huge cultural impact. One of the main reasons is Bruce Lee. He had presence and charisma. Everybody knows who he is and what he was about. And apparently, even after his unfortunate death, he manages to piss off certain people. Jim Kelly stated that Bruce Lee is one of a kind. There simply wasn't anyone like him. Why would someone make a statement like that and not mean it? The lengths people go through to put him down is beyond despicable. You have to ask yourself why they feel the need to do this. I know this is an easy answer, but very likely it's envy and jealousy. In any case, Bruce Lee is the one who makes this film compelling. While I respect and like the roles of Jim Kelly and John Saxon, all I truly care about what Bruce Lee was doing. Even the extras can't hide the joy from witnessing greatness. They are in such awe every time Bruce defeats an enemy. Funny fact is that these extras are supposed to be playing his enemies, but they are so happy when one of them get slammed down by him. I can't disagree with them. It is an experience to watch Bruce Lee kick ass. 

Story wise, Enter the Dragon is OK. Direction wise, there was a lot of room for improvement. Still, one can't deny that this is the first Hollywood film that took martial arts seriously. It also did a good job of explaining why martial arts made sense instead of using guns. There is even a joke where Bruce Lee himself wonders why they aren't using guns? The answer isn't really satisfying, but props for them addressing the big elephant in the room. Bruce really displayed some versatility in his acting by showing his humorous side and sense for drama when it was needed. 

So what did I think of the visuals? Is this 4K version the best out there. Very likely it is. The HDR makes the colours pop and for the most part the image is clear and crisp. Perhaps not entirely demo worthy, then again one should appreciate improvement nonetheless. Where this version really shines is the audio. At times, it really feels Bruce is there with you in the room. I always use headphones, but I can only imagine what it must be like with a proper surround system.

Definitely a must own, even if you already are in the possession of the Criterion Blu-ray. I suggest you do so, or I will have to be forced to call upon his ghost, which has happened before.

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