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.
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
Run Time: 1 Hr. 42 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 06/11/2013
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.
The Production Rating: 4/5
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.
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.
Video Rating: 4/5 3D Rating: NA
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.
Audio Rating: 4/5
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.
Special Features Rating: 4.5/5
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.
- 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.
[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
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
- Roper, Williams and Lee
- The Deadly Three
- The Island of Han
- Review Spot
- Champion of Champions
- Fury is Back
- The Crown Prince of Combat
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.
Overall Rating: 4/5
Reviewed By: Cameron Yee
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