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Blu-ray Reviews

Enter the Dragon: 40th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray Review

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#1 of 22 Cameron Yee

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Posted June 12 2013 - 10:32 PM

Enter the Dragon: 40th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray Review

In commemoration of Bruce Lee’s watershed martial arts film, Warner Home Video delivers a remastered transfer that shows some improvements, but has one noteworthy issue. The addition of some new bonus material offers some minor incentives, but the picture quality will be the deciding factor for most buyers.


Cover Art


Studio: Warner Brothers

Distributed By: N/A

Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 2.0 DD, French 1.0 DD (Mono)

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French

Rating: R

Run Time: 1 Hr. 42 Min.

Package Includes: Blu-ray

Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)

Region: A

Release Date: 06/11/2013

MSRP: $49.99




The Production Rating: 4/5

The criminal activities of the former Shaolin monk Han (Shih Kien) have brought him to the attention of the British authorities, who call on those best equipped to stop him, disciples of the Shaolin Temple itself. Its most accomplished student is Lee (Bruce Lee), who turns out to have more than just the sacred community’s honor to uphold when he agrees to hunt down the rogue kung fu master. Posing as a contestant in Han’s martial arts tournament, Lee easily infiltrates the criminal organization and gains a couple allies along the way (played by John Saxon and Jim Kelly), but finds actually stopping Han more challenging than he expected, requiring him to draw on not just his formidable physical abilities, but the wisdom and life lessons of his venerated Shaolin masters.

After a stifling experience in Hollywood, where he played The Green Hornet’s Kato but then was offered only variations of that role, Lee returned to where he was raised to star in films like The Big Boss and Fist of Fury, making him an international box office sensation in Hong Kong and much of Asia. That success renewed Hollywood’s interest, which then led to production of Director Robert Clouse’s Enter the Dragon, a film that would effectively re-introduce Lee to Western audiences, but now as a lead actor and, ultimately, a global, martial arts superstar.

Lee’s untimely death just six days before Enter the Dragon’s premiere cut short a career that was just gaining momentum, but then his passing immediately transformed him into a legend whose status continues unabated even after 40 years. Though Enter the Dragon is by no means a masterpiece, even within the martial arts genre, which has had four decades to be inspired by and build upon his efforts, it is certainly the most accessible of Lee's films and a watershed moment in his too-brief career. Ultimately it’s difficult not to feel a twinge of sadness watching him at the peak of his abilities, wondering what might have been if he had lived to a ripe old age like his one time Wing Chun teacher, Ip Man. No doubt the worlds of both martial arts and movie making would be very different places.

Note: The release includes only the extended version of the film, which adds a bit of philosophical exposition to the early scenes and a call-back moment in the climax. Those who prefer the theatrical cut will need to look to other sources for that version.



Video Rating: 4/5  3D Rating: NA

Remastered for the film’s 40th anniversary, the image shows some significant improvements, with inkier blacks; deeper, more saturated color; more natural looking detail and grain structure; and absence of the dust and dirt specks that riddled the older transfer. Contrast is also much stronger now, with the majority of scenes showing more than a little compression at the bottom end of the range. Looking at the same scenes in the older transfer, the image can look unnaturally boosted in brightness, so my assumption is the contrastier look is the more accurate of the two. Though the film also has its fair share of downright hazy and soft images, byproducts of the period’s filmmaking methods and technology, there’s no obvious attempt to digitally fix them, preserving the look of the film, warts and all.



Audio Rating: 4/5

Dialogue in the primary audio track, which has been upgraded to lossless 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, is consistently crisp, clear and intelligible. Surround activity is nominal, providing mostly support for the score with some instances of directional and environmental cues. There’s no LFE to speak of, but the track exhibits decent depth and dynamic range, especially with Lalo Schifrin’s quintessential ‘70s score and the over-the-top sound effects during the film’s various fight sequences.



Special Features Rating: 4.5/5

Three new featurettes and a handful of physical pieces have been added to the bonus material from past editions, though the feature-length documentary Bruce Lee: A Warrior’s Journey remains absent, as it was since the title’s 2010 Blu-ray re-issue. Honestly, I don’t think it’s such a huge loss, but completionists may feel different. The new videos don’t offer much added value to a collection of extras that was already rather sizable, but the printed materials are admittedly a treat.

[New Extras]

No Way as Way: A Discussion on Self Mastery (26:28, HD): Sugar Ray Leonard, George Takei, Linda Lee Cadwell, Shannon Lee and others share their thoughts about the path to self actualization and Lee’s influence on their personal growth.

Return to Han’s Island (10:25, HD): The featurette visits the Hong Kong locations used for the film, comparing then to now.

Wing Chun: The Art that Introduced Kung Fu to Bruce Lee (20:02, HD): The piece, directed Lee’s daughter Shannon, interviews a trio of Wing Chun masters, who provide a history of the martial art and demonstrations of the technique, with examples from Enter the Dragon. Although it's far from exhaustive, it's a decent introduction to the increasingly popular discipline.

Physical Items
  • Postcards: Seven cards show scenes from the film and some archival objects.
  • Iron-On Patch
  • Reproduction of Film Premiere "Deputy of the Dragon" Souvenir
  • Lenticular Collector’s Card: Tilt the card and watch Lee swing his nunchaku.
  • Book Sample: Available direct from Warner Brothers, Enter the Dragon, a Photographer's Journey is a 260-page, hardcover book featuring the images of Warner Brothers unit photographer David Friedman. A small, printed booklet provides samples of the contents.
Packaging: A sturdy slipcover holds a standard single-disc keepcase and the printed items, which are housed in a dragon-themed cardstock envelope.

[Previously Released Extras]

As originally evaluated by Kevin Koster in his review of the 2007 Blu-ray.

Audio Commentary with Producer Paul Heller: Heller goes into a little detail about Lee’s fighting abilities, as well as some trivia about how Lee did his own stunts (and was injured), how he handled a real (milked) snake on camera, and how the mirror climax was conceived. Heller is joined at times by writer Michael Allin on speakerphone, which makes for a disjointed effect, to say the least. Heller truly loves the film, but this isn’t the most gripping commentary you’ll ever hear.

Blood and Steel: The Making of Enter the Dragon (30:15, SD): There’s a lot of material to go through in 30 minutes, including the usual interviews, behind-the-scenes footage, and a few outtakes here and there.

Bruce Lee: In His Own Words (19:22, SD): Essentially, John Little’s piece intercuts a black and white video interview of Lee with footage from the film, concluding with a photo montage set to the song “Ode to an Artist.”

Linda Lee Cadwell Interview Gallery (16:05, SD): Lee’s widow shares a lot of interesting stuff in these extended interview clips, including one story of an extra in the final competition sequence taunting Lee into an exhibition match of sorts. Lee then apparently “schooled” the individual until he learned his lesson, in a good-natured way, of course.
  • Love and Kung Fu
  • Into Hollywood Through the Back Door
  • Bringing the Classroom to the Camera
  • The Real Bruce
  • Mental Self Defense
  • Enter the Dream
  • Planting the Seed: Growing a Film
  • Incidents on the Set
  • Setting the New Standard
  • Bruce’s Influence on His Family
1973 Featurette (7:38, SD): The vintage, electronic press kit featurette created to promote the film.

Backyard Workout with Bruce (1:52, SD): A vintage black-and-white video recording of Bruce Lee practicing kicks and punches in his backyard shows HE REALLY WAS THAT FAST.

Curse of the Dragon (1:27:27, SD): A comprehensive documentary about Lee begins with his death and examines his legacy and the unfortunate fates of both himself and his son Brandon.

Theatrical Trailers (9:18, SD)
  • Mysterious Island
  • Champion of Champions
  • The Deadly Three
  • Island Fortress
TV Spots (5:44, SD)
  • Roper, Williams and Lee
  • The Deadly Three
  • The Island of Han
  • Review Spot
  • Champion of Champions
  • Fury is Back
  • The Crown Prince of Combat



Overall Rating: 4/5

Warner Home Video’s 40th anniversary edition of Enter the Dragon amounts to a fitting commemoration of Bruce Lee's watershed martial arts film, improving on the picture quality with a more faithful transfer, upgrading the audio to a lossless track, and including both old and new bonus material. Devoted fans should have no reservations picking up the title, though the more casual viewer will probably want to hold off until the price drops or Warner issues a disc-only release.


Reviewed By: Cameron Yee


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#2 of 22 Ronald Epstein

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Posted June 12 2013 - 11:10 PM

Cameron,

 

Thank you for this review.

 

I had only seen Enter The Dragon, for the first time, a few

short years ago upon its initial Blu-ray release.  

 

I remember enjoying it very much.  Unfortunately, having

seen Kentucky Fried Movie dozens of times up to that 

point, it was difficult to not chuckle every now and then.

 

It sounds as if the video could be a rather significant upgrade

over the initial release.  I'll wait to hear more HTF members

chime in on that.  Right now, at $35, I am not ready to upgrade.

However, if and when it dips below $20, I would certainly consider

replacing my initial copy if the recommendation is there.


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#3 of 22 Russell G

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Posted June 13 2013 - 09:02 AM

I'm with Ron on this one, except I haven't bought it on blu yet. Once it dips into the under $20 waters I'll grab this one up. Hopefully the Shout Factory Lee boxset that's coming out later this year is a a winner.


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#4 of 22 Cameron Yee

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Posted June 13 2013 - 09:13 AM

I agree $35 is a steep price to pay.


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#5 of 22 Number 6

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Posted June 13 2013 - 10:34 AM

I agree $35 is a steep price to pay.

I certainly respect your opinion and, all things being equal, might even agree, but I can remember spending sometimes four times as much on Laserdisc versions of movies with half of the supplements and a third of the quality. Figure in inflation (and increased income) and it's even more of a difference. When I remember those times and I think about getting Enter The Dragon in high definition and with all the cool swag for $35, it feels like a steal.

 

Is it ever interesting how context--in this case, much better quality available at a much lower price, much more readily--can affect worth/value.

 

Having said that, I'll wait for it to get down to around $20. :)



#6 of 22 Russell G

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Posted June 13 2013 - 10:42 AM

I certainly respect your opinion and, all things being equal, might even agree, but I can remember spending sometimes four times as much on Laserdisc versions of movies with half of the supplements and a third of the quality. Figure in inflation (and increased income) and it's even more of a difference. When I remember those times and I think about getting Enter The Dragon in high definition and with all the cool swag for $35, it feels like a steal.

 

Is it ever interesting how context--in this case, much better quality available at a much lower price, much more readily--can affect worth/value.

 

 

 

Sorry but this Laserdisc, strawman argument is a bunch of BS now that seems to keep getting dragged out on the forum like the dead horse it always was. I mean, why not go back to the 60's and talk about how $30 could net you a 8mm, 20 minute reel? Or the $120 a P&S VHS of Star Wars in the 80's? It's not even an apples and oranges comparison, it's an apples and trucks one.

 

This is a double dip in the same format. $35 for a re-release of a title that didn't exactly look terrible in the first place is clearly considered a bit steep, regardless of the physical items. (Unless it included one of those claw bladed things, then it would be the deal of the century, :P)


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#7 of 22 Professor Echo

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Posted June 13 2013 - 12:09 PM

I'm happy with my earlier Blu on this title and especially the original art cover. That lenticular collector's card just isn't swaying me.



#8 of 22 Aaron Silverman

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Posted June 13 2013 - 05:06 PM

Yeah, the "I remember when laserdiscs cost $x" argument needs to get the hell off my lawn!
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#9 of 22 Number 6

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Posted June 14 2013 - 11:22 AM

Whoa, didn't mean to get anybody's ire up with my thoughts that $35 might be considered a bargain for this thing--particularly if you've never bought it before.

 

Anyway, not being a forum veteran, didn't realize that my 'glass-half-full'/'can you remember when we would have jumped at this for this price?' argument was something of an old rickety warhorse around here.

 

Still. My point stands. Cool stuff, awesome film, great extras--if you've never purchased this before, then, I maintain, it's not a bad deal.

 

Carry on.



#10 of 22 theonemacduff

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Posted June 14 2013 - 02:13 PM

Some sites were saying that the Curse of the Dragon doc wasn't on this new disc; are you saying that in fact it is? 



#11 of 22 Cameron Yee

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Posted June 14 2013 - 02:14 PM

Curse of the Dragon is; A Warrior's Journey is not. These are two different documentaries that were on the 2007 Blu-ray. The latter was removed from the title with the 2010 re-issue.


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#12 of 22 HDvision

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Posted June 15 2013 - 01:23 AM

Anyone noticed the new release is zoomboxed? The image is cropped top, bottom, left and right when compared to the old release.

 

I read it's due to 4K mastering, can anyone explain?



#13 of 22 Cameron Yee

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Posted June 15 2013 - 03:22 PM

Anyone noticed the new release is zoomboxed? The image is cropped top, bottom, left and right when compared to the old release.

 

I read it's due to 4K mastering, can anyone explain?

 

Is there a specific scene to compare?


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#14 of 22 HDvision

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Posted June 15 2013 - 11:10 PM

There are caps on other forums, I'll post a link when I can.

 

Here is one a comparison, the 2007 release vs the HK release:

 

http://caps-a-holic....less=#vergleich

 

The HK release shows more picture information on top, left and right.

 

It means the 2007 is cropped already. The new release is further cropped from this.

 

Some caps from the 2007 version here

 

http://www.dvdbeaver...gon_blu-ray.htm

 

And the same from the new version here

 

http://forum.blu-ray...2&postcount=439


Edited by HDvision, June 15 2013 - 11:20 PM.


#15 of 22 Moises

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Posted June 16 2013 - 12:00 AM

I second Cameron's assessment of the color, contrast, and general PQ as a solid uptick. The only reason I've watched it is that we got it for my dad as a Father's Day gift. The price is oppressive for what I consider a very, very solid visual improvement.

 

Regarding the cropping: I can't say that I noticed something was off, and this is a movie I've watched a great deal, ever since I was a kid. The visual evidence linked above is tough to argue with. There are any number of reasons why this version is zoomboxed as compared to prior ones. Who knows what film element this master came from, or what choices were made for what reason. I'm an obsessive OAR nut, but this isn't like a flat movie got chopped to 1.66 or something. I personally take the tradeoff of the otherwise much-improved PQ, especially color depth and contrast.

 

The price is the killer on this thing. Yes, I get that Father's Day and all that crap is why they're suckering people with this one, making the only available option the "chocolate box" version, unlike how they made single disc versions of Road Warrior and Beyond Thunderdome available right alongside the Mad Max Trilogy That Has No Text on Its "Spine" set.

 

I don't have some sort of axe to grind, but while I'm in wild speculation mode...maybe it's a contractual thing with Bruce Lee Enterprises, where Shannon Lee is requiring them to release the Overpriced, But If You Want It, This Is It Edition first from here on. I fully expect a 45th Anniversary Edition and in 10 years, a 50th.

 

Based on Warrior's Journey disappearing between 2007 and the 2010 reissue and a new 30-minute thing directed, produced, and featuring Shannon Lee...I'd bet BLE had a direct role in that 100-minute doc disappearing. A doc like the new one would be the sort of thing BLE could draw a royalty on, but not the previous one, done by John Little. Maybe BLE didn't want the Game of Death stuff so directly tied to the "legacy-building". Maybe they want it released separately. Maybe due to its feature length and some clause in a contract, Little demanded some sort of royalty for Warrior's Journey and at the same time, BLE wanted money to authorize further display of Lee's likeness, and the whole thing became untenable for WB, who otherwise own the doc, and they said "screw it, Shannon, you go make a thing and we'll replace this thing only nerds care about.". Who knows. We probably won't ever know for sure.


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#16 of 22 HDvision

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Posted June 17 2013 - 11:07 AM

Wow, the new transfer looks really badly cropped and look how the sky loses it's blue shades, becoming clipped white

 

http://www.caps-a-ho...less=#vergleich



#17 of 22 Cameron Yee

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Posted June 18 2013 - 06:44 AM

The cropping is an issue, but then this is in a movie that doesn't always have the most pleasing compositions, particularly during the fight sequences with its extreme close-ups and fast zooming.

 

The exposure of areas like the sky I think can go either way. We'll have one camp preferring blown out sky, and another retention of detail. The pertinent question is what was the intent?


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#18 of 22 HDvision

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Posted June 18 2013 - 09:57 AM

The intent is best presentation, sadly, no Blu-ray of this film achieve it as of today.



#19 of 22 Cameron Yee

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Posted June 18 2013 - 03:31 PM

"Best presentation" is still a relative term. If my intention as the cinematographer was to have blown out sky, then indeed the 40th anniversary edition would be the "best presentation" as it reflects how I intended to present the scene. So the older version, with apparent detail in the clouds, would not be an accurate reflection of my work, even though others think having detail in the sky is what is "accurate."


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#20 of 22 Carlo Medina

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Posted June 20 2013 - 10:33 AM

Yeah, the "I remember when laserdiscs cost $x" argument needs to get the hell off my lawn!

:lol: You tell 'em ya geezer!  :lol:

 

Funny, home theater is kind of the reverse of general trends. Usually people bemoan when things were cheaper. "I remember when bread sold for a nickel". Ironically some still remember paying hundreds for LDs like that's a time we want to go back to!

 

Everything should be priced relative to its competitors/contemporaries. This price for ETD is quite high considering that it is a catalog title which, while it may be remastered, doesn't look to have any true restoration done to it. Also the extras, while numerous, don't seem to justify the price being asked. If I were a studio exec (keeping in mind that I need to make sure we turn a profit) and that package were brought to me, I'd say MSRP $29.99, with MAP of $19.99







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