Enter the Dragon
February 18th, 2023

Enter the Dragon

Please join Cultivate Cinema Circle as we screen five classic martial arts films from the 1970s. Next is Robert Clouse’s Enter the Dragon [1973] starring Bruce Lee.

Event Sponsors:

Venue Information:

Downtown Central Library Auditorium
1 Lafayette Square, Buffalo, NY 14203
(Enter from Clinton Street between Oak and Washington Streets)
716-858-8900 • www.BuffaloLib.org
COVID protocol will be followed.

TrailerSynopsisDirector BioLinks

Bruce Lee’s masterful final film, Enter the Dragon, stands the test of time as the most beloved martial arts epic in film history. This box office hit takes Lee to the island fortress of criminal warlord Han, whose martial arts academy covers up opium smuggling and prostitution activities.


  • National Film Preservation Board – 2004 – National Film Registry

Courtesy of TCM:

Robert Clouse was a film director, writer and producer whose 30-year career was devoted primarily to martial arts films, most notably his collaboration with the legendary Bruce Lee in the 1973 martial arts classic, Enter the Dragon. The movie was a huge financial success for Warner Bros and Clouse, and gave him substantial momentum for future projects. It was essentially the only time the two worked together—though Lee also starred in Clouse’s The Game of Death from 1978. The movie was composed of a mix of previously filmed footage, sequences from other Lee films, and several shots of stand-ins (Lee had died in 1973, prior to the release of Enter the Dragon).

Clouse made his feature film-directing debut in 1970 with the action mystery Darker than Amber, followed by the drama Dreams of Glass, which he also wrote, that same year, but from then on action films became Clouse’s calling card. He worked with an odd range of actors over the years, from Yul Brynner and Max von Sydow in the 1975 sci-fi thriller The Ultimate Warrior to Jackie Chan in the 1980 action comedy The Big Brawl. From the mid-1980s through the end of his run in the early ’90s, Clouse continued to make martial arts films, though without the benefit of Lee or Chan-like name recognition. His later muses included Richard Norton, whom he worked with on several films, and Cynthia Rothrock, the star of both China O’Brien and China O’Brien II.


  • China O’Brien II (1991)
  • China O’Brien (1989)
  • Gymkata (1985)
  • The Rats (1982)
  • Force: Five (1981)
  • The Big Brawl (1980)
  • The Omega Connection (1979)
  • The Game of Death (1978)
  • The Amsterdam Kill (1978)
  • The Pack (1977)
  • Long Dark Night (1977)
  • The Ultimate Warrior (1975)
  • Black Belt Jones (1974)
  • Golden Needles (1974)
  • Enter the Dragon (1973)
  • Dreams of Glass (1970)
  • Darker Than Amber (1970)

Here is a curated selection of links for additional insight/information:

  • Cultivate Cinema Circle info-sheet – link
  • “Bruce Lee’s last movie is the only one that gives him the star treatment he deserved. His charismatic presence is remarkable in Enter the Dragon, and it’s a shame he didn’t have the chance to become the great, unique star he seemed destined to be. The movie itself, produced by Fred Weintraub and Paul Heller in association with Raymond Chow of Hong Kong’s Concorde Productions, is a whoop-and-holler entertainment, which is to say that it’s a lavish, corny action movie, not boring for a second and as outrageously wry as it is visually appealing. Michael Allin’s inventive screenplay brings Lee to the island fortress of master criminal Shih Kien to find evidence to convict him of white slavery and opium trade. Kien organizes a martial arts contest, which is actually a front to find salesmen to peddle his wares throughout the world. John Saxon is extremely good as a compulsive gambler who joins the contest to find his way out of a losing streak. Jim Kelly is equally fine as a black American trying to earn money for the movement. Peter Archer is an unpleasant New Zealander contestant. Bob Wall is the big meanie who murdered Lee’s hapkido belt sister, played by Angela Mao Ying in one astonishing action sequence. Yang Sze is Shih’s muscle bound bodyguard. Geoffrey Weeks is Lee’s English Interpol contact. Betty Chung is a secret agent inside the fortress. Ahna Capri floats through the movie the way Myrna Loy used to in the early Oriental period of her career, dispensing pretty women to the tired contestants like sleeping pills. But it’s Bruce Lee’s movie. He’s a strange, otherworldly presence, a man of wisdom who excels at action, who speaks of the emotional content of the fight scorning the notion of anger. Lee staged the fight sequences himself, and they lift the movie the way Astaire and Rogers used to when they danced in movies of a different fantasy genre. Robert Clouse’s fluid direction brings this three-ring circus to action climax, so to speak, after action climax, wringing full potential out of the production. His work is an excellent example of a genre director proving his ready for more ambitious material. Clouse even steals, and quite deftly, from the mirror funhouse scene in Orson Welles’ Lady From Shanghai. Lalo Schifrin’s gigantic orchestral score inflates the movie with an appealing epic feeling that sometimes falls out of its story. Gilbert Hubbs’ garish photography is entirely appropriate to the Fu Manchu-like decor of James Wong Sun and costumes of Louis Sheng. Although the movie feels just a shade too long, film editors Kurt Hirschler and George Watters keep the proceedings going at a clip pace.” — Alan R. Howard, The Hollywood Reporter [1973] – link
  • “It was the summer of 1984 and while most of my friends were engaged in the bitter culture war that was Duran Duran v Culture Club, I was obsessed with a dead movie star called Bruce Lee. Our video store in Bramhall, Cheshire, was a classic early 80s den of rental iniquity, crammed with unclassified horror and martial arts flicks, and I wanted to see all of these morbid and violent treats before someone came along and banned them. My parents weren’t quite irresponsible enough to let me rent Last House on the Left or Driller Killer, but they had an open-door policy on kung fu, so one afternoon I went home with Enter the Dragon and nothing was the same again. Everything about Bruce Lee’s first American-produced movie (after three pictures made by Hong Kong studio Golden Harvest) is ludicrous and over-stylised in a way only the 1970s could manage. From its amazing orchestral funk soundtrack by Lalo Schifrin (also responsible for the Mission Impossible theme), to the kitsch set designs, it is a black-belt assault on the senses. It is also joyously dumb. Bruce Lee plays a Shaolin master recruited by the British secret service to infiltrate a fighting tournament arranged by reclusive millionaire Mr Han on his island off the coast of Hong Kong. You can tell Lee’s contact is a British agent because he looks like Captain Mainwaring and drinks tea in every scene he’s in. Han is suspected of running a trafficking operation, in which women are being kidnapped, drugged and then sold to rich psychopaths but instead of mounting a conventional intelligence operation, MI6 decides to send in a really violent monk. This all made perfect sense at the time…For years I had a poster of Enter the Dragon on my bedroom wall. It was a still from the fight scene in the island’s underground laboratory (which is where a young Jackie Chan pops up in one of his first acting roles). Bruce is standing with a pair of nunchucks above his head, shirtless, lithe and handsome – a very different representation of masculinity than I’d ever experienced before. It is such a potent, lasting image from a movie that is full of potent, lasting images: the scene where Jim Kelly’s character is hassled in the street by racist LA cops is a weird and unsettling thing to rewatch in the summer of 2020; and then there’s the moment Lee explains his technique as ‘fighting without fighting’ – part of his ‘be water’ philosophy that would go on to inspire the Hong Kong democracy protesters. Something I didn’t realise when I was 12 but I do now: for a joyously dumb movie, Enter the Dragon sure did have a lot to say.” — Keith Stuart, The Guardian [2020] – link

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