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The One-Line Summary: A Shaolin martial arts master named Lee (Bruce Lee) is invited by a mysterious Mr. Han (Shih Kien) to enter a competition on a remote island but is asked by British Intelligence to go undercover and investigate Han’s compound, which they suspect is hiding a secret drug and prostitution operation.
The Two-Line Blurb: Directed by Robert Clouse, Enter the Dragon, Lee’s final film appearance (Game of Death was made with clips made from an unfinished film) and widely considered as the greatest martial arts film of all time, is the first Chinese martial arts film produced by Hollywood and even has a cameo by Jackie Chan as a henchman long before his rise to fame in Western film. Lee’s work in this film is regarded as his highest achievement, featuring some remarkable displays of fighting skills and stunt work, while the story itself, co-written by Lee and often parodied in modern film, set a standard for the genre and has become iconic for its specific plotting, remote setting, and megalomaniacal villain.
The Three-Line Moment Set-up: This moment is all about the honor and begins when Lee accepts the offer to infiltrate Han’s island, though it won’t be easy since Han has banned firearms and runs a martial arts school, which helps maintain a constant well-trained security force to shield the illegal trafficking conducted out of sight. On the island, Lee is welcomed into the competition (meeting two Americans who are in the contest as well), and that night, after rendezvousing with beautiful Mei Ling, a female agent also undercover on the island, sneaks around the compound and discovers the underground base where the illegal activities are run, and though is caught be guards, including Chan, easily defeats them before he can be identified. The next day, Lee wins his first fight in the contest, killing Han’s bodyguard O’Hara (Robert Wall), who broke the rules of the fight and used shattered glass bottles in an attempt to murder Lee.
The Four-Line Moment: The next day, Han becomes suspicious and angry when his plans are thwarted and orders his small army to kill Lee and the one surviving American, starting a chaotic martial arts battle that sees dozens of prisoners on the island freed by Lei who join the fight in a massive brawl. Han escapes into his martial arts museum with Lee right on his tail, looking for a one-on-one, but not expecting Han, who has a prosthetic left hand, to switch out that appendage for a four-bladed gauntlet of steel razors. Surrounded by ancient fighting weapons, the two engage in hand-to-hand combat, with Han striking into Lee’s flesh, but only serving to make him angry as he leads him to a hall of mirrors and an epic showdown of wits and skill. Long before Wolverine became a fixture in cinemas as an X-Men, it is Mr. Han who dons the claw hand first and faces off against a master martial arts fighter, creating one of the greatest fights in cinema history.
The Five-Word Review: Classic from start to finish.
Bruce Lee, John Saxon, Jim Kelly