Blu-ray
Recommended
4.5 stars
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$49.99
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$30.41 (39%)
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Overall Grade
4.5 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Movie Itself
4.5 Stars
HD Video Quality
4 Stars
HD Audio Quality
4 Stars
Supplements
4 Stars
High-Def Extras
2 Stars
Bottom Line
Recommended

Enter the Dragon: 40th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition

Street Date:
June 11th, 2013
Reviewed by:
Review Date: 1
June 12th, 2013
Movie Release Year:
1973
Studio:
Warner Brothers
Length:
98 Minutes
MPAA Rating:
Rated R
Release Country
United States

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

Bruce Lee was born in San Francisco's Chinatown at the Jackson Street Hospital on November 27, 1940, while his actor father, Hoi-Chuen, was working in the United States. The following year, Lee's parents return to Hong Kong when he was three months old. He showed great determination at an early age, becoming a child actor, and later Hong Kong cha cha champion of 1958. Eventually he returned to the states, and co-starred in TV's 'The Green Hornet.' But because Hollywood wouldn't take a chance on him, Bruce returned to Hong Kong to make movies. After proving himself at the box-office, though, Hollywood came back and together they made the landmark 'Enter the Dragon.' Warner Brothers celebrates its 40th anniversary this year with this giftset.

Lee is a great student of Shaolin martial arts as shown during a fight with another student (Sammo Hung). His teacher informs him of a former student, Han (Shih Kien), who is bringing dishonor to the temple because he is using his skills for evil purposes involving drugs and prostitution. Han has an island fortress and every three years he holds a tournament to determine the best fighter. British agents want Lee to enter and help them stop Han. When Lee learns that Han's men are responsible for harming Lee's sister, he becomes even more motivated to bring Han down.

Bruce Lee choreographed the fights in the film and they are impressive. His first fight in the tournament is against the larger O'Hara (Robert Wall). Bruce throws jabs so amazingly fast I would have guessed the camera had been undercranked to increase the appearance of speed, but the flags flapping in the background don't change their speed at all. In Han's underground lab, he not only shows off his skills with his fists and feet, but also uses a staff, two small clubs, and a pair on nunchucks to great effect.

There are two other main characters that enter the tournament, Roper (John Saxon) and Williams (Jim Kelly), who served together in Vietnam. They contribute to the action and offer some comic relief, especially Roper. The film tries to show how tough the black man has it in a scene where Williams is hassled by two white cops. Unfortunately, they play into the stereotype of the hyper-sexualized black man by having Williams request four prostitutes for the evening as the ladies are brought around to Han's guests.

An effort is made to show that the martial arts is mental as well as physical. On the boat to Han's island, a tough guy from New Zealand asks what Lee's style is, to which he answers, the “art of fighting without fighting.” When challenged, Lee outsmarts the man. Earlier, Lee teaches a student about not using anger, and feeling what he is doing rather than thinking about it, bringing to mind the Force, one of many similarities to 'Star Wars', which was four years away. The film concludes with an iconic scene set in a hall of mirrors. Han, who is missing a hand, wears an attachment of blades like a proto-Wolverine. Lee receives wisdom from the voice of his teacher to accomplish his goal.

Called “The Ultimate Martial Arts masterpiece” on the film's poster, 'Enter the Dragon' not only made Bruce Lee an international star, but it is credited with bringing martial arts out of the east and sharing them with much of the rest of the world. Tragically, he died on July 20, 1973, six days before the film was released, so he was unable to reap the rewards of his success.

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

in this Ultimate Collector's Edition Blu-ray Giftset, Warner Brothers presents 'Enter the Dragon' on a 50GB Region-Free Blu-ray disc housed in a blue ecocase. The disc boots up directly to the menu screen without any promotional advertisements. The ecocase is housed within a slipcase along with an envelope that contains an iron-on patch, facsimilies of a Deputy of the Dragon card that was handed out at the film's premiere and an original script cover, six postcards featuring pictures and pre-production drawings, and a lenticular card of Lee working a nunchuck. There is also a booklet advertising photographer Dave Friedman's book about his time on the set.

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

The video has been given a 1080p/AVC-MPEG-4 encoded transfer displayed at 2.40:1 and has been remastered since its previous 2007 Blu-ray release.

The image looks very clean, free from dirt and wear, and film grain is evident. The colors are bright and vibrant, especially in the single-hue robes worn by different groups of Shaolin students watching Lee spar in the opening sequence. Blacks are deep, with occasional crush in the darkly lit sequences.

The focus is frequently sharp, revealing clear details and textures, which everyone but Mr. Saxon will appreciate since it makes his toupee all the more obvious. However, there are a few scenes where the limited clarity of the source makes the video look pretty poor. For example, when Roper is golfing and Williams is getting hassled by the cops, there are segments during the scenes that look so different in quality they appear as if they are from different sources.

The Audio: Rating the Sound

The audio available is in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, upgraded from 2007's lossy Dolby Digital track. The mix is free from damage and signs of age. The dialogue is always understandable, although obviously dubbed. The latter aspect causes occasional flatness in the voices. The dialogue and many of the prominent sound effects play in the front center channel. The surrounds offer slight ambiance in Lalo Schffrin's score. The funk-influenced music during the opening credits gets the subwoofer thumping and an airplane can be heard moving from front to the back speakers. The 5.1 track offers great balance between the elements and a strong dynamic range.

The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff

The supplements included have appeared on previous 'Enter the Dragon' home video releases.
  • Commentary – Producer Paul M. Heller offers his remembrances about Bruce Lee and the making of the film. Screenwriter Michael Allin joins in on the phone, and seems to vanish towards the end. I actually had forgotten about him until Heller suggested he say "goodbye." Because some of the information is repeated in the other extras and there are a few gaps of silence, I would suggest skipping this.
  • Blood and Steel: Making of 'Enter the Dragon' (SD, 30 min) – Put together by Heller in 2003, this look at how the film was made includes interviews with the filmmakers and Lee's friend, actor James Coburn.
  • Bruce Lee: In His Own Words (SD, 19 min) – Put together in 1998, archival interviews of Lee are edited together as he talks about martial arts, acting, and stardom. The interviews are in black and white, so images from the film included appear that way as well.
  • Linda Lee Cadwell Interview Gallery (SD, 13 min) – Bruce's widow offers brief thoughts on 10 different topics. They are all from one session, so it's odd that they would be cut up and it's aggravating that there is not a Play-All option.
  • 1973 Featurette (SD, 8 min) –"Location: Hong Kong with 'Enter the Dragon'" takes viewers to the set and this early look behind the scenes is a bit of a novelty.
  • Backyard Workout with Bruce Lee (SD, 2 min) – What appears to be early home video briefly finds Bruce kicking a pad and working a bag.
  • Curse of the Dragon (SD, 87 min) – Narrated by George Takei, this engaging look at Bruce's life and death, includes not only the 'Enter the Dragon' filmmakers, but also co-stars and friends Chuck Norris and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Well worth watching.
  • Trailers (SD, 10 min) – Four trailer of varying lengths provide different information about the film.
  • TV Spots (SD, 7 min) – Running about minute each, these spots are so similar, it's surprising they released so many versions.

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

  • No Way as Way (HD, 26 min) – Boxer Sugar Ray Leonard, actor George Takei, musician Steven Aoki, and Bruce's wife, daughter, and granddaughter, discuss how Bruce Lee and his teachings personally affected them.
  • The Return to Han's Island (HD, 10 min) – An off-screen narrator serves as the guide as the locales from 'Enter the Dragon' are shown what they look like today. It's not very memorable.
  • Wing Chung: The Art that Introduced Kung Fu to Bruce Lee (HD, 20 min) – Teachers and practitioners discuss the martial art known as Wing Chung and its history. This was very interesting and felt like it could have been longer.

Final Thoughts

The 40th anniversary Blu-ray alone I would rate "Highly Recommended," but the bottom line is slightly diminished because the physical supplements that accompany the Ultimate Collector's Edition Blu-ray Giftset and drive up the price aren't must-own items. Except of course, for the hardcore Bruce Lee fan.

Technical Specs

  • BD-50 Blu-ray Disc
  • Collectible Art Cards
  • Lenticular Card
  • Embroidered Patch

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1080p/AVC MPEG-4

Aspect Ratio(s)

  • 2.40:1

Audio Formats

  • English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • French Dolby Digital Mono
  • German Dolby Digital Mono
  • Japanese Dolby Digital Mono
  • Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0
  • Spanish Dolby Digital Mono
  • Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0
  • Polish Dolby Digital 2.0
  • Russian Dolby Digital 5.1

Subtitles/Captions

  • English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, German, Italian, Greek, Korean, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Turkish

Supplements

  • Commentary by producer Paul Heller
  • New Featurette No Way As Way
  • New Featurette The Return to Han's Island
  • New Featurette Wing Chun: The Art that Introduced Kung Fu to Bruce Lee
  • Interview Gallery featuring Lee's wife, Linda Lee Caldwell
  • Vintage pieces
  • Five trailers
  • Seven TV spots

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List Price
$49.99
Amazon
$30.41 (39%)
3rd Party
$29.98
Usually ships in 24 hours Buy Now»