Enter the Dragon (1973)

1h 42m / R / Action

Lee (Bruce Lee), a highly proficient martial artist and instructor from Hong Kong, is approached by British intelligence and asked to aid in their investigation of a suspected crime lord named Han, who only appears in public every three years to host an invitation-only martial arts tournament on his private, fortress island. Lee is persuaded to attend to gather evidence that will prove Han’s involvement in drug trafficking and prostitution. Shortly before his departure, Lee also learns that the man responsible for his sister’s death, O’Hara, is working as Han’s bodyguard on the island. Joined by Roper (John Saxon), a gambling addict with fighting skills and Williams (Jim Kelly), a martial artist and Vietnam vet buddy of Roper’s, Lee infiltrates the tournament to confront Han and his deadly killing arts in a surreal and seemingly unending series of fights to the death.

Books have been written about Enter the Dragon, and arguably it’s still not enough. It’s a crucially important movie from a myriad of angles: it solidified Bruce Lee as a culture-spanning megastar, transformed the genre of action films, sparked a worldwide interest in martial arts, completely revolutionized the Hong Kong film production system, marked a waypoint in the burgeoning blaxploitation genre, and earned an inflation-adjusted $2 billion at the box office. So there’s a lot to say.

Luckily for us, Hector Sotomayor, adjunct professor of film studies and new media at the University of Tampa and Ringling College, has offered to join us for a post-show Film Talk and audience Q&A to contextualize Enter the Dragon in its 50th anniversary year and give us some of the backstory on what makes it so important, so popular and so resonant with audiences even now.

The Summer Classics Movie Series has been presented by Bank of America since 2015. Promotional support for the series is provided by WEDU-PBS.