In our final Jim Kelly review (for the time being, anyway. I plan on looking at Three the Hard Way somewhere down the line), we’re going to be talking about Enter the Dragon. Jim Kelly isn’t the star of this movie. It’s Bruce Lee and it was his break-out role in the first Kung Fu flick financed by Hollywood. Pretty cool stuff. While this is clearly a Bruce Lee vehicle, Kelly near as dammit steals the show with his own unique charisma, as a character called Williams. Williams is very similar to a lot of the roles Jim Kelly would go on to take in his short acting career and in looking back on Enter the Dragon, it’s hard to comprehend the fact that Kelly’s character doesn’t make it all the way to the end of this picture. The story goes that John Saxon’s agent threw a bitch fit and had the screenwriter’s cook up a whole new ending where Saxon's character gets to live but Kelly's doesn’t. Pretty bum deal if you ask me but in a way, this kick started the whole Jim Kelly phenomena as audiences wanted to see more of this unmitigated bad-ass in a movie where he doesn’t get killed like he’s just some sort of punk bitch. As usual, there are going to be some major spoilers in this review (you know me by now; I basically tell you the plot) but to be honest, if you haven’t seen Enter the Dragon, you and I have no further business with one another. On we go…
This movie begins with Bruce Lee beating up a fat dude played by a young Sammo Hung. It’s obviously an exhibition match of some sort and it’s being held at this Shaolin temple which Bruce is probably the star pupil of. It’s not really a great introduction to the character because it’s hard to side with someone who has far superior martial arts abilities, beating up a fat dude. Still, it’s just as good a point as any to start, I guess. So Bruce beats up a fat guy and goes for a meeting with the head of the temple. This guy has the most American accent I’ve ever heard. Like, whoever’s dubbing the voice isn’t even trying to sound even remotely Chinese. Seriously, he’s so American. He basically tells Bruce that’s he’s a fucking bad ass and he’s operating at a level above the physical but he puts it to him in more spiritual way and I don’t think this hurts Bruce’s self-esteem any. He probably appreciates it more than if someone were to just say ‘Dude, your Kung Fu is pretty sweet’. Anyway, this monk also tells him about a former student of the temple called Han, who we find out a little later on is the bad guy in this movie. He tells Bruce that Han sacked off his responsibilities went rogue and brought shame to the temple. Basically, he’s a dick. He tells Bruce to reclaim the temple’s honour. This monk tells Bruce that there’s a guy at the temple who wants to talk to him, called Braithwaite. Bruce meets up with this guy who tells him about a tournament that Han is holding and that they want Bruce to attend. By ‘they’ he means ‘the government’ but we’ll hear about them a little later on, too. Their conversation is cut short by one of Bruce’s students and what I imagine is one of their many weird little intervals that they have over a typical day. Bruce is trying to teach this guy about combat but he’s doing it in a really confusing way. Braithwaite seems pretty impressed with this display but I think they’re just putting it on and fucking with this stuffy white guy and his (probably) stereotypically racist preconceptions of martial artists.
Then we get the title sequence. During this sequence, we’re introduced to Jim Kelly’s character but only in as much as we see him get off a plane and walk around Hong Kong. This doesn’t really lead to anything other than being impressed with Kelly’s afro which I sense is what we’re really being introduced to. We also get to briefly glimpse Saxon’s character who's also getting off a plane but also looks like he’s shouting at a little Chinese guy about his luggage. Seriously, he looks pretty condescending in this scene. It bothers me a little. Here, the credit sequence ends pretty abruptly and we’re now in Braithwaite’s Hong Kong office where he’s talking to Bruce who’s wearing a pretty sick three piece suit. Braithwaite is basically going over the main assholes of this movie so you can just kick back and learn everything you need to know about these dudes. Braithwaite shows Bruce the only existing film footage of Han that anyone has. He then shows Bruce footage of this guy called O’Hara who Braithwaite says is Han’s bodyguard. This O’Hara guy is presented as something of a bad ass because you see movie film footage of him having shit broken over his arms and him punching through flaming bricks. The most physically notable thing about O’Hara is how he was kind of Chuck Norris before Chuck Norris got in on that action. He’s got a beard and semi-permanently fixed hair but Bruce manages to ruffle it later on. Next, Braithwaite shows Bruce a picture of Han’s island where he’ll be holding the tournament. He tells Bruce that Han lives completely self-sufficiently on this island and spends all of his time running a school of martial arts. At this stage, you have to stop and think that this Han guy doesn’t sound all that bad. I mean, O’Hara looks like a fucking chump but what’s wrong with Han living on a private island and teaching some kids how to kick ass? Braithwaite shows Bruce some footage of a dead girl who was washed ashore and was last seen partying on Han’s private boat. Braithwaite tells Bruce that Han gets shit loads of young girls like her hooked on heroin and then sells them on the black market. Oh, shit. So THAT’S what’s so bad about Han. What an asshole. Braithwaite tells him that his government body knows everything about Han but they can’t prove shit which seems odd but then he explains that part of Han’s island doesn’t lie within their jurisdiction. Damn red tape. Braithwaite gives Bruce a picture of this chick who’s been working on infiltrating Han’s operation and says that they lost contact with her a while ago but he can meet up with her when he gets to the island, if she’s still alive and not all junked out on heroin.
Tonight on Lifetime 'The P-Diddy Boat Party That Went Horribly Awry'
I just want to take a moment to mention that the first third of this movie is all kinds of fucked up because most of the story is told in flashback so it’s really difficult to write about it chronologically. When we get a flashback sequence, I’ll make sure that you’re all subtly aware that one is happening just before it does, ok? Cool.
FLASHBACK! Bruce is chatting with one of his friends back at the temple and it’s supposed to be just before Bruce leaves for Hong Kong. His buddy is telling him about the time that Bruce’s sister was killed. DOUBLE FLASHBACK! Bruce’s buddy and his sister were having a walk around the city (doesn’t say which city. I guess it’s Hong Kong) when they were attacked by a Super Rape Gang of Han’s men, led by O’Hara. It’s daylight, by the way so you know these are some brazen assholes because they beat up Bruce’s buddy and they’re totally going to rape Bruce’s sister as well. These guys just don’t give a fuck. Bruce’s sister beats up a couple of the guys in the gang but Bruce’s buddy tells her to run while he slashes O’Hara’s face with a concealed knife. O’Hara is understandably pissed about this and beats the shit out of this guy before getting his men to chase after Bruce’s sister. She eventually winds up in this abandoned warehouse or something but Han’s men smash through the windows and surround her. She opts out of being their unwilling sex doll by picking up a piece of broken glass and stabbing herself in the stomach while O’Hara looks on passively like a douche. It’s difficult to tell why Bruce’s buddy told him about this, exactly. I mean, it serves for an interesting angle later on in the film but telling him this just before he leaves is surely going to make him lose focus. Man, this guy is a shitty friend. This is the first time he’s told Bruce about what actually happened to his sister as well so you’re left wondering what the fuck they told Bruce about it in the first place. Next, we see Saxon preparing to board the boat for Han’s island FLASHBACK! Saxon’s flashback shows him playing golf. He’s playing with this other guy and they put a bet on Saxon potting the ball or whatever it’s called in Golf. Saxon fucks this up so he’s already down a couple of thousand dollars to this other guy. Saxon smashes his ball into the rough so he goes looking for it when these big dudes in suits and moustaches appear from the trees, saying he owes them serious money. I think it’s all gambling money or something. That’s probably true given that he’s just unwisely gambled with his golfing partner. It’s never really mentioned what it is Saxon does for a living, by the way but it seems to be something where he can play golf all day. I sometimes like to imagine he works with something really dull like timber or steel which is why he spends his time learning Kung Fu and playing golf. Anyway, he has a hilarious fight with these guys and high tails it to Hong Kong. Now it’s time for us to meet Kelly’s character FLASHBACK! Kelly’s leaving this all-black karate school when he’s stopped by these two asshole Policemen who are using a load of racial slurs and trying to arrest him for being black on a Friday night or whatever. These guys are stupid even for racists. These Policemen literally pull up outside the building that Kelly is leaving like they were waiting for him. Kelly isn’t taking no shit from the man, so he resists arrest and beats the shit out of these cops who are just pissed off that Kelly has plane tickets to Hong Kong. Then he fucks right out of that place in their patrol car and heads to the airport. Don’t know how he made it there. You’d think someone would have stopped him. It can’t be that easy to steal a Police car and drive it to an airport I wouldn’t have thought.
'Got a passport, have ya? Gonna be doin' some legal travelling, are ya? Tickets probably bought and paid for with wages from your steady job, huh? We'll soon see about that, you son of a bitch!'
After these flashbacks have finished, all of the principle cast are on a boat bound for Han’s island. You find out that Kelly and Saxon are old Vietnam buddies. They seem to have a kind of sixth sense for dangerous situations and are constantly giving one another little looks to show each other that they know shit isn’t right. Right after Kelly and Saxon reunite is where we meet Boat Asshole. I’m sure this character is called Parsons and someone mentions that he’s from New Zealand so essentially, he’s Russell Crowe because he’s sort of Antipodean and an overly aggressive prick. He’s so incidental though that it doesn’t really matter what his name is so I call him Boat Asshole. When the boat is well under-way for the island, Boat Asshole is just hanging out on deck when he just starts kicking all the hired help around for like no reason. He approaches Bruce and starts doing some flexing and other weird shit in front of him to try and intimidate him. Boat Asshole wants to fight and tries to get Bruce to show him some of his moves. Bruce agrees but humiliates the guy by tricking him into getting into this little rowing boat and then threatening to let go of the line. All the guys that Boat Asshole has just been kicking around get a good laugh out of it so justice is served for the time being but you know this prick is going to be back for seconds later on in the movie.
Fuck you, Boat Asshole. You don't even deserve anything even remotely resembling a funny caption
So, the boat arrives at Han’s island and the contestants are greeted by this big mother fucker called Bollo who spends his time looking mean and menacing even though he’s basically a glorified bell boy in this scene. Bollo is kind of a random element in this movie but you’ll get to learn more about him a bit later. There’s also this woman called Tania who Saxon immediately spots and starts making creepy comments about. She leads them away from the boat and around the main building where you see all of Han’s students standing in formation and doing some kung-fu moves in unison. One of the guys isn’t really keeping up with the others so I’m guessing he’s the remedial student. You’ll spot him if you look carefully. Tania tells everyone that there will be a feast in the main hall at 8:00pm. She tells everyone at the front of the line, at least, which includes Kelly, Bruce and Saxon. I guess she just leaves it up to chance that Boat Asshole and all the other contestants will work it out later on that there’s food and a party when they start to get hungry.
In the next scene, it’s much later on (probably after 8:00pm) and everyone’s in the main hall having fun at the feast. There’s Sumo wrestling going on in the middle of the room, these little jester guys are cart wheeling around the place, chicks are serving food etc. It’s pretty good. Kelly and Saxon have this chat about how something doesn’t seem right although to be fair, we only know something isn’t right because we know from Braithwaite’s briefing that Han is an asshole so they’ve got no real reason to be this suspicious yet. That Tania chick from before is there and she’s dressed like Barbarella and even O’Hara shows up, looking like he took a wrong turn coming out of Medieval world. All of a sudden, there’s this huge gong sound (which I think must be someone hitting a gong) and Han comes in through these big double doors, followed by these chicks who don’t say anything. He starts going on about how everyone that’s taking part has honed their body to the peak of physical perfection and he makes it sound like they’ve all sacrificed something to be as skilled as they are which I can believe in Bruce’s case and probably even Kelly’s but Saxon? This guy can’t even convince me that what’s sitting on top of his head is real hair. I mean, look at this shit; even imdb is trying to tell me that he has a black belt in karate. I’m looking at the trivia page right now. I don’t believe this shit for a second. Anyway, Han has finished his speech and he walks over to this big bowl of apples. He starts throwing them in the air and the chicks he’s brought in with him start throwing these concealed darts at them. Some of the random guys in the room catch the apples with darts in them before Bruce catches one which is thrown by the woman he recognises from the picture Braithwaite gave him earlier on in the movie. Han leaves the room and the party continues. I don’t know why he felt it necessary to show off his dart blowing chicks in this way. They don’t really factor into this movie at any point later on which is kind of a shame.
'What's that, sweetcheeks? Yes, I'm a blackbelt...yes, 'seriously'...sure thing I'll wait while you look it up on imdb'
Later on, after dinner, all the contestants are back in their rooms and Tania is knocking on the guests’ doors and offering them sexy fun time with this wide selection of chicks from Han’s own, personal stash. I kind of feel bad for Tania at this point because she’s been there to greet the contestants when they first arrived, she was at the party and now she’s in full of Madame mode, dispensing whorey delights on the contestants. She’s been through at least two hair style changes and three dress changes by this point. The first room she goes to is Kelly’s, who’s listening to some sort of funky jazz on his head phones when they first come in. Kelly picks out four girls saying that he would have picked more but it’s been a long day and he’s tired. Tania doesn’t seem impressed by this but she should be happy because this is kind of her job and her reaction is as stupid as someone working on a used car lot getting angry that he’s sold every car on the same day. Next, she goes to Bruce’s room. He’s not interested in any of the tarts on display, instead asking for the owner of the dart that he picked up from the party. Tania says she can arrange this for him. It’s all business with Bruce. Not sexy business. Secret agent business. The final room we see (and there have to be a lot of rooms. There were at least 40 contestants at the party, perhaps more. That’s a lot of whores Han must have) is Saxon’s but there’s only one chick he’s got his dubious martial arts skill eyes on and that’s Tania. She seems quite happy with this despite the fact that she and Saxon haven’t exchanged a single word before this point in the film. Meanwhile, Bruce is chatting to the girl with the dart who we find out is called Mai-Ling. She tells Bruce that she’s monitored all the time and she doesn’t know shit about what Han is up to. She also tells him that there are all these girls that go missing on the island but we kind of know what happens to them.
The next scene is morning time and Bruce is busting out some moves in his room when O’Hara comes in and tells Bruce to attend a morning ritual in uniform which he doesn’t. He turns up in this brown karate suit which, for a secret agent, is kind of stupid because he’s obviously trying to infiltrate this thing that Han has got going on and he doesn’t want to draw attention to himself. One of Han’s guys confronts him about it but Bruce has nothing for this except a stern look which seems to be ok because this guy leaves him alone. So next time you want to go into work and you fancy opting for a sarong and not your usual shirt and tie ensemble, just flash your boss a stern look when he questions you. It works. After this, we get to see Kelly fighting Boat Asshole and Kelly hands his ass to him pretty heavily. All the time while this is going on, there’s a little guy with a toothbrush, Hitler ‘tache who’s running his own little gambling ring which Saxon is naturally taking part in. Hitler ‘tache looks a bit too old to be taking part in anything to do with the tournament or the kung fu school and we never see him fight so I’m assuming he’s just a guy who lives on the island although I don’t know why Mr Han would have anyone on this island other than his guards, whores, heroin employees and sweet throwing dart chicks. Saxon gets to kick some guy’s ass while Kelly carries on the betting. Again, a lot of Saxon’s moves are kind of shown with a close angle so you don’t have to see his sloppy kicks. There’s a lot of movement implied but never really shown. They don’t do a great job of hiding it.
'Bet you $20 that my toupee and awkward karate is less offensive to the Jewish community than your moustache'
Later on, Saxon is in his room having some sexy time with Tania while Kelly is in his room with these four chicks again. Kelly mentions that he wants to go outside but one of the girls tells him that this is forbidden. Kelly ignores this warning and goes outside anyway. Elsewhere, Bruce is also making a quick trip outside but the difference is, he’s decked out in this all-in-one number and he’s doing some covert ninja shit across the palace grounds to dig up some dirt on Han. This scene is pretty good and there’s some good tension built up as you’re watching Bruce sneak around the palace but you’re left wondering why Han would employ such utter fucking dip shits as his guards. Maybe they’re his nephews or something. He can’t have picked them himself unless they’re agency workers. I’ve worked for agencies before and they don’t always employ the cream of the crop. I’ll give these guys a break if that’s the case. Anyway, Bruce does some snooping around and finds this concealed hatch in the grounds, which leads to an underground warehouse of sorts. I say it’s concealed, but the only concession they’ve made to concealing it is putting a potted plant on top of it. His investigation is cut short when two guards find the rope Bruce has used to climb down the hatch. He beats the shit out of them and makes his escape back to his room. Meanwhile, Kelly is still outside catching some air and doing some moves when he spots Bruce making his escape across the palace walls. Kelly, true to character, doesn’t give a fuck, decides to make a pithy comment and thinks nothing more of it.
The next morning, Han has called all the contestants to the courtyard and he’s pissed. He’s found out about someone snooping around the grounds and brings that big mother fucker Bollo into play to discipline the guards and by ‘discipline’ I mean ‘murder the fuck out of’. This is where it’s kind of confusing because I thought O’Hara was supposed to be the main cause for concern for everyone what with him being Han’s personal body guard but by this point, all we’ve seen him do is ineffectually try to rape someone, turn up to a dinner party in clothes which are about five hundred years out of date and stand at Bruce’s door thinking he’s the shit but with no proof to back it up. It’s soon O’Hara’s time to shine though because as soon as Bollo has finished snapping spines and crunching necks, he steps into the ring with Bruce. O’Hara has this prop board with him which he smashes in front of Bruce’s face but you get the impression that this asshole always does this before a fight and just brings something like balsa wood for the effect. Bruce is unperturbed by this because he can probably punch through an entire fucking forest without breaking a sweat. The fight between Bruce and O’Hara doesn’t take long for Bruce to finish. He keeps getting the drop on O’Hara and the bouffant prick never even manages to a get a single punch in. O’Hara loses his shit after Bruce has kicked him through some chairs and picks up these two bottles which are lying around. He smashes them and starts to make his way towards Bruce. There’s this pretty call slow mo sequence of Bruce disarming him and kicking him to the floor before he finally puts this bastard out of his misery by stomping his head into the floor. Bruce turns around and remembers that he’s taking part in a martial arts tournament and probably shouldn’t have pulped O’Hara’s head but Han doesn’t give a shit. He just says that O’Hara was a bit of a dick cheese for trying to stab Bruce up with some broken bottles and leaves. Just after this happens, Saxon mentions to Kelly that he’ll be in his room if he wants to talk about anything that’s just happened and given that the last five minutes of their lives have been all about dudes murdering other dudes in what was supposed to be a friendly martial arts tournament, you kind of understand why Kelly says he’ll be along for a chat in about half an hour. Saxon exits the courtyard but before Kelly can leave, Tania approaches him and says that Han wants to see him in his study.
'SUPERSISTERRAPEVENGEANCEKICK HI-YAH!!!!' - Street Fighter II: Enter The Dragon Edition
The following scene is probably one of the most simultaneously disappointing but brilliant moments in cinema.
Kelly walks into Han’s study so blissfully unaware of the shit storm that’s about to go down. Han starts off being complimentary about Kelly’s skill but then segues into this little life lesson about how Kelly should really prepare himself for defeat. Kelly, understandably, can’t get behind this shit. He’s Jim Kelly, for Christ’s sake. He tells Han that if someone does ever defeat him, he won’t notice because he’ll be too busy looking good. Han decides to cut straight to the chase at this juncture and asks Kelly what he was looking for when he attacked the guards the other night. Kelly tells Han that it wasn’t him. Han counters by saying that he was the only one outside of the palace. Kelly owns up to being outside but says that he wasn’t the only one outside that night. When Han demands to know who else was outside, Kelly’s done fucking around with this turkey. He tells Han that he wants to leave the island and Han denies him. Kelly’s response is the stuff of cult movie legend and I just want you to indulge me here for a moment. For everyone who’s seen this movie (that’s everyone, ever in the world, right?) and anyone who hasn't, please hit 'play' in 3...2...1
Damn, that feels good. Feel free to replay it a couple more times. Just after this, Kelly notices that there are some guards outside Han’s study. He turns to Han and tells him (yep, we’re doing this shit again)…
The fight that Kelly has with the guards is pretty good and shows off some more of his natural skill at martial arts but it feels like a bit of an afterthought given what we know will happen to him when this is over. The end of this fight with the guards is officially the end of the awesome in this scene. Han gets up from his desk to finish what his guards are incapable of doing and he and Kelly square off. Kelly throws up a pretty mega kick but he collides with Han’s hand and recoils in pain. Turns out Han has a fucking metal left hand which he can detach, chop and change with various instruments of death as he sees fit. I’m not going to spend too much time on this scene because it fucking grates with me that Kelly is killed off. It adds an extra dimension to the film because you can’t help but have become attached to Kelly’s character by this point so seeing him killed off is really disappointing but really shocking. It doesn’t spoil the movie but it doesn’t sit right especially not with how much they’ve been building up the character. Fucking Hollywood agents and their opinions. We could have had the ultimate bad-ass showdown with Bruce, Saxon and Kelly fighting back to back and taking down the whole operation. That’s right; I’d even allow Saxon to take part in it. No hard feelings or anything. So anyway, just to round this scene off, Kelly is punched and kicked around and then killed off in a really brutal way by Han and his T-800 hand.
In the next scene, Han is having a walk with Saxon through his war room where he’s got all these antique weapons and suits of armour. Han is explaining that he wants to talk about some important shit with Saxon. It’s worth noting that Han has a white cat in his arms in this scene. It serves a purpose just a few more minutes into the scene and kind of creates the illusion that he’s had it all the way through the film because he’s already been revealed to have a metal hand and a private island. Han is never more of a James Bond villain than he is in this scene and it’s easy to forget that at no other point in the film does he really resemble one. Anyway, he’s chatting with Saxon when they get to the end of this war room and Han puts his cat’s head on an antique guillotine. Saxon takes the cat off the block just as Han pulls the cord to the machine. We find out that it’s a dummy guillotine because it acts as an elevator to the underground warehouse which Bruce discovered earlier on. They continue to walk through the warehouse area and for a while, it all seems kosher. Then we come across these glass sided torture boxes where Han keeps all these chicks hooked on heroin. Bless the 70’s for having a limited understanding of the effects of hard drugs but the solemnity of the moment is ruined by Hollywood naivety as women either stare vacantly into space or shake their head repeatedly like malfunctioning droids. As if this wasn’t enough, Han shows Saxon all these prison cells which are chock full of dudes in black overalls who he says are drunks and various other vagabonds from the city who have lost their way. Why he keeps them here in this way is never really explained. It’s a bit creepy really when you think about it. Seriously, why would you actively collect drunks and keep them locked up in cells? Weirdo.
'Dude, seriously?! You collect drunks? Why would you collect drunks? That's a fucking weird hobby, buddy. Just saying'
Anyway, Han shows Saxon his heroin racket and asks him if he wants to represent his organisation in America. Saxon, despite being an irresponsible dick with a serious gambling addiction, is a deeply moral guy and can’t do this. Han decides to try another tactic and shows him Kelly’s lifeless body hanging above what I always think is a piranha pool but isn’t actually. It’s just a pool. Let’s put what Han is trying to do to Saxon into simplistic business terms; I sell ice cream. It’s pretty damn good and is a proven, competitive brand in the market. I have a little ice cream stall which you’re walking past one day and I try to entice you into buying one. You refuse, stating politely that you’re lactose intolerant and the dairy produce in my ice cream will make you ill. I take this information on board and respond by smashing the ice cream into my asshole before jumping up and down and threatening to kill your parents. It’s kind of like that but Han doesn’t smash anything into his ass. Not on camera, anyway. So, Saxon has reached a bit of an impasse by this point and keeps his acknowledgement of the situation kind of nondescript as to avoid meeting the same fate. At this stage, Han thinks he has Saxon in the bag.
Meanwhile, above ground, Bruce is doing some more snooping around. This time when he approaches the hidden hatch, there’s a fucking cobra just chilling out near it. Bruce grabs the snake and puts it in this handy little snake sack that he brought with him. Actually, that’s probably the bag that his climbing rope came in. He climbs down into the warehouse area again but this time doesn’t get interrupted above ground so he manages to make it all the way down. Bruce comes across this control room which he can’t circumnavigate and notices a radio inside. To get the guys manning the control room out that place, he throws the snake in there but smacks it round the head first for good measure. The guys in the control room get the fuck out of that place pretty damn fast so Bruce gets in and sends a message over the radio to Braithwaite. By this point, all hell has broken loose and Bruce has to fight a load of Han’s guards. This is probably the best of Bruce’s fight scenes in the movie and even progresses onto the infamous nun-chuck scene where he gets to demonstrate his awesome ability with weapons. He dispatches the majority of these guards in a fairly standard, non-lethal way with the exception of one guard who he mercilessly slaughters in the same way he disposed of O’Hara earlier on. His motivations for taking all his aggression out on this one guard remain hazy. So, Bruce gets a good run of beating up these guards and he’s trying to find a way out of the underground warehouse when he runs into this one room and these steel doors come down around him, locking him in until Han is ready to deal with him.
This just looks too fucking cool to not put in this review
The next scene shows Han’s courtyard and Bruce is standing next to Bollo who’s keeping an eye on him. A guard brings Saxon to the courtyard and it’s pretty obvious to all assembled that Han wants Saxon to kick Bruce’s ass. In the context of the film, this was never going to happen. In real life, this was never going to happen. If the magic of movies and the allure of being an actor lie in the fact that we get to become everything we’ve always wanted to be, Saxon is getting the shit end of the stick in this scene. He quite rightly refuses to co-operate with Han who responds by setting Bollo on him. Saxon makes pretty easy work out of Bollo, who tries to pull some spine snapping tricks on him. Saxon fights dirty though and manages to give Bollo the drubbing he deserves. He would have made a better target for Bruce’s angst rather than that guard who’d done literally nothing but try to earn his pay cheque. Han gets royally pissed at this and sets all the students on Saxon and Bruce. Meanwhile, Mai Ling is setting all the drunks and losers from the prison cells free and the Coastguard are scrambling to helicopters to make their way to Han’s island. Meanwhile, Bruce and Saxon are ploughing through these students like they aint no thing. This is testament to Han's skill as a kung fu master because every single one of these students is fucking useless. All the drunks from the cells are above ground now and fighting the students alongside Bruce and Saxon. It’s curious to see that all of these drunks possess the same level of kung fu skill as the students so I’m wondering if Han’s selflessness extends even to the prisoners that he collects for no reason and he just can’t help but teach them some kung fu, too. In fact, he's taught them better kung fu because they're ploughing through Han's guards pretty easily as well. While all this fighting is going on, Bruce is trying to make his way to Han for the final showdown but one of the students commits the cardinal sin of interrupting Bruce’s singular, destined approach towards Han. This is the action movie version of cock blocking and I fucking hate to see it. You know whoever interrupts our hero isn’t worth shit and Bruce, true to form, gets this guy out of the way really easily so it’s kind of pointless him doing it in the first place. Han has brought a wooden box out with him to the courtyard because it has one of his little hand attachments in it. Han has a lot of spikey hand attachments and this one looks like it belongs to the King of The Wicker People armour from Tim Burton’s Batman movie. Han gets it stuck in a chair as he’s taking a swing for Bruce which makes him look like a dickhead. Han makes a quick exit but Bruce has had enough of this bullshit and follows him.
This man cannot teach hundreds of students to beat up two guys with any success
Bruce follows Han to his war room where he’s now changed his hand into this weird fucking chrome lions paw thing. They have a bit of a fight in here which looks cool. Han tries to run Bruce through with a spear but instead he drives it into one of the walls. Bruce continues to pound on his ass but Han bitches out and escapes into this hall of mirrors which he has hidden behind a revolving wall in the war room. Bruce follows him in and becomes a bit disoriented by all the mirrors and shit. This scene is cool and all and it’s easy to just admire the production value and the creativeness behind having a final battle in these surroundings but ask yourself this; why does this room even exist? What practical application does it serve? Is this Han’s sexy time room? Was one mirror above the bed just not enough? We see like a dressing gown hanging up in there and that’s all the evidence I need. Anyway, Bruce is wandering around looking for Han and, just like the little bitch he is, he strikes from a distance and then disappears again. You’re wondering how Bruce is going to win this one given that he’s fighting Han on his terms and not his own. We then hear this voice over, like it’s playing through Bruce’s head, of something that the Shaolin monk from way back at the start of the film told him about breaking the opponent’s image. I see what they did there. Mirrors. Image. Mirror image. That’s some clever shit, right there. So Bruce smashes as many mirrors as he can to distort the image and therefore giving Han less of an advantage. As he’s doing this, Han comes in for the kill but Bruce is ready for him. He kicks Han so hard that this prick falls onto the spear which is poking through the wall from the war room. Bruce actually looks pretty surprised that this has happened, like he wasn’t expecting this kind of luck. Given that he’s almost been murdered several times over the last few days, I guess you wouldn’t be expecting a break like that either.
'Ho-lee shit! Did you see that?! Somebody tell me they saw that...ah, shit'
Back in the courtyard, things have finally wound down. Saxon is taking a breather and looking out over all the unconscious and probably dead bodies. He scans across the courtyard and notices Tania has been killed which he’s pretty sad about. Bruce comes back up to the courtyard and spots him and gives him the thumbs up. They both look pretty sad, to be fair and this is where the film ends as the Coastguard turn up in their helicopter’s just a little too late to have saved some lives. Pretty fucking bleak, all things considered.
So, Enter the Dragon is a great movie with some sharp editing, interesting set pieces and a kick ass Lalo Schifrin soundtrack. All the performances are great and even though I rag on Saxon a lot, he’s really good and I don’t know who else could have brought the charm to this movie quite like he does. Of course, we’re here to honour Jim Kelly above all else and he really is the star of this movie in many ways. Don't get me wrong; Bruce is great and rightly deserves his place as a legend of martial arts cinema and as a cultural icon but we started this journey because of Jim and his big personality. If by some stretch of the imagination you've never seen a Jim Kelly movie or know someone who hasn't seen a Jim Kelly movie, spread the love. A bit more Jim Kelly love in the world can never be a bad thing. And on that note, I think I've only got one more thing to say: Jim, you’re sorely missed, man. Thanks for all the awesome.
Oh, and please understand; if I've missed anything, it's been a big day. I'm a little tired.
Pictured: Bad Ass
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