Released in 1973. Enter the Dragon became the first Chinese martial arts film produced in America and made Bruce Lee a household name. Tragically, Lee died before the film was released, making the film a document of a promising career that would never be. Fifty years later, Enter the Dragon is considered the pinnacle of the martial arts genre. In 2004, the film was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.

Lee (Bruce Lee), a Shaolin monk recruited by the British government to go after a rebel member of his temple, Han (Kien Shih) and uncover evidence of his illegal activities. The head of a crime syndicate, he’s been distributing drugs and prostitutes throughout the region. Lee gets an invitation to a martial arts competition that takes place on island fortress run by Han. In a flashback, we are shown that Han’s men were responsible for the death of Lee’s sister, making this a personal mission for him.

Two other men, Roper (John Saxon) a gambling Caucasian playboy on the run from his debts and Williams (Jim Kelly), an African American activist on the run from a violent encounter with two racist police officers in Los Angeles, are also on their way to the competition. Army buddies who served in Vietnam together, all three men receive a warm welcome before things turn deadly.

All three leads are instantly likeable. While not the greatest actors, Bruce Lee and his co-stars have charisma to spare. The fight scenes are excellently choreographed and effective, offering more realism than the CGI enhanced fights of today. Lee had an undeniable screen presence and his physicality is amazing. Like Lee, Jim Kelly was a martial artist first and an actor second. He was the 1971 World Middleweight Karate champion. John Saxon was the only traditional actor who acted as if he were a martial artist. Worth noting is the appearance of a young Jackie Chan in a few scenes.

While the sound effects can be annoying—every kick sound like a brick being thrown against the wall, no matter the move. It takes away from the action scenes a bit. Even so, there’s a lot to like about Enter the Dragon. It’s impossible not to wonder what Bruce Lee’s career would have been, had he survived to make another film.

Presented in the 2.40:1 aspect ratio, Warner Brothers has provided a solid representation of the source. Clarity is strong throughout. While sharpness is generally good, a few scenes are a bit erratic. That appears to stem from the relatively cheap photography used for action movies in the early 1970’s. There’s a nice level of grain and no obvious digital noise reduction. Print flaws aren’t an issue. The films bright palette is reproduced nicely. HDR adds intensity to the hues. Blacks are pleasantly inky.

The films remixed Dolby Atmos works well for the film. the soundfield has been opened nicely. Music and effects are mixed well. Fight scenes are more immersive throughout and Lalo Schifrin’s score has been given new life. Effects are over the top, but it somehow works. Dialogue is clean, clear though the dubbing is decidedly awkward, occasionally looking like it wasn’t shot in English.

English SDH, French, German SDH, Italian SDH, Spanish, Cantonese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Korean, Norwegian and Swedish subtitles are included.

The 4K includes both the film’s Theatrical Cut (1:39:02) as well as a Special Edition Version (1:42:32).

The following extras are available:

  • Audio Commentary from producer Paul Heller, who offers a running, screen-specific track.
  • Introduction to the Special Edition (HD, 2:11) from Bruce Lee’s widow, Linda Lee Caldwell.