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Film / Enter the Dragon

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"Don't think. Feel."

Enter the Dragon is the fourth major film (and final completed film) in the career of martial arts legend Bruce Lee. It premiered in August 1973, one month after Lee's untimely death. Enter the Dragon was the first of Lee's movies to premiere in America and the first to be recorded in English.

The film's story centers around Lee, a Shaolin monk and martial arts master, who is approached by Braithwaite (Geoffrey Weeks), a member of an international intelligence organization that wants Lee to become an undercover agent. The organization has been investigating a man named Han (Shih Kien), a former student of Lee's master, who lives in an island fortress and oversees a criminal empire that has its hands in kidnappings, drugs, and prostitution. Braithwaite's organization "know[s] everything, but can prove nothing", so they recruit a reluctant Lee to infiltrate Han's island during a martial arts tournament held there once every three years and gather evidence that will uncover his crimes. Other central characters of the film include fellow martial artist Williams (Jim Kelly), martial artist and unlucky gambler Roper (John Saxon), and another undercover agent named Mei Ling (Betty Chung). Though the heroes don't often cooperate with each other directly, they each individually work to uncover the secrets of Han's underground operation, risking the deadly penalties imposed by Han and his Made of Iron bodyguard O'Hara (Robert Wall).

Enter the Dragon is still considered one of the finest martial arts films in history. Critics have often praised it for its ethnic equality, as it features heroes of European, African, and Asian descent. It also features Lee as a philosophical warrior, allowing him to tie in his own personal philosophies of martial arts by virtue of his personally rewriting the script to add dialogue at the opening Shaolin Temple scenes. Of course, the real beauty of the film is in the exquisite fight sequences showcasing Lee in his absolute prime alongside with an excellent supporting cast and stunt crew (including future martial arts stars Sammo Hung and Jackie Chan). See for yourself.

Enter the Dragon contains the following tropes:

  • The Ace: Lee is leagues above nearly every other martial artist in the tournament. Only Han is able to even contest him through dirty fighting and the use of weapons, and Han himself was leagues above everyone else. Every other fight Lee gets into is a Curb-Stomp Battle unless trapped by means that are not hand-to-hand, and one of the more pivotal action scenes in the film is him kicking the asses of a small army. He's also shown to be clever, down-to-earth, spiritual yet streetwise, no stranger to bloodshed, and unshakably moral.
  • Acid Pool: The spiked pit of greenish liquid Han lowers Williams' body into is meant to be this, but only the Cantonese version has the bubbling sound effects of the dissolving body that make it clearer it's acid.
  • Action Girl: Lee's sister, Su Lin, counts because of the trouble she gave The Dragon (Angela Mao Ying would go on to be a martial arts star in her own right in Hong Kong).
  • Action Prologue: Before the opening credits even begin, Bruce Lee fights and beats Sammo Hung in a nonlethal kung fu match at a Shaolin Temple in Hong Kong.
  • Afro Asskicker: Williams is the Ur-Example, as a black man with an afro and serious martial arts skills.
  • Agony of the Feet: Williams throws a kick at Han, who blocks it with his metal prosthetic hand. Williams clutches his foot in pain.
  • The Aggressive Drug Dealer: Turns out that Mr. Han can afford his private island fortress and Thug Dojo by making opium in a laboratory concealed within said island and selling it (he even invited Roper in the hopes that he would become his agent in his planned expansion to the States)... and abducts women from the streets of Hong Kong, getting them forcibly hooked on the opium in order to "create demand".
  • All There in the Script: Han's secretary/madame is named Tania, but the film doesn't reveal that until the end credits. Also, O'Hara's name is spelled as "Oharra" for some reason.
  • Amazon Brigade: Han's daughters also serve as his personal guard. He is also accompanied by several female servants who are skilled with throwing darts.
  • Ambiguous Situation: A lot of emotions cross Lee's face after stomping O'Hara to death, going slowly from anger to anguish (even looking at the verge of tears for a moment) before finally composing himself and turning to Han. Is Lee simply very emotional about having finally avenged his sister, perhaps suddenly remembering everything he lost? Is he momentarily shaken upon realizing that, righteously or not, he has just killed a man, likely for the first time? Or is it all at once?
  • And Starring: "Introducing Jim Kelly as Williams."
  • Arch-Enemy: Mr. Han to Lee.
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Parsons from New Zealand, until Lee puts him in his place.
  • Artistic License – Martial Arts:
    • Lee takes a pair of nunchaku from a clueless mook and demonstrates how to really use them. Which is not how one really uses the nunchaku; it was just used to either strangle an enemy or go upside their head with it, like a western flail. All the fancy spinning and twirling was popularized by none other than Bruce Lee himself, who did it so spectacularly that everyone just assumed that's how you were supposed to use nunchaku. Presumably what he's doing is an intimidation tactic just to show off his skill.
    • Many of the extras in the courtyard fighting scenes are wearing wristwatches. They would be banned at an actual martial arts contest for obvious safety reasons.
  • As You Know: When Lee suggests guns for his mission, Braithwaite says this while explaining that the possession of a firearm is a serious offence.
  • Badass Family: Lee's sister isn't on the same level he is, but she manages to lead O'Hara's gang on an extended chase, fighting his men off repeatedly, before O'Hara finally corners her.
  • Bad Boss: Han punishes guards for incompetence by having Bolo beat them to death.
  • Badass Boast: Lee wasn't impressed with O'Hara's breaking a wooden board with a punch before their fight.
    Lee: Boards don't hit back.
  • Baddie Flattery: Han is impressed with Lee's prowess:
    Your battle with the guards was magnificent, your skill is extraordinary. And I was going to ask you to join us.
  • Bash Brothers: Lee and Roper become this in the penultimate battle, as they fight off Han's Mooks side by side.
  • Batter Up!: The one Mook who survives this Curb-Stomp Battle responds to Lee's nunchucks in this manner. Then it becomes a One-Hit KO.
  • Beneath the Mask: In reference to Han, the villain, whose martial-arts tournament is a front for a really nasty operation: "You must remember...the enemy has only images and illusions, behind which he hides his true motives. Destroy the image, and you will break the enemy."
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: Lee's sister Su Lin stabs herself with a piece of broken glass when she is cornered by O'Hara and his henchmen.
  • Big Bad: Han.
  • Big Badass Battle Sequence: The Black Robes and the white gi in the Final Battle.
  • Bigot with a Badge: Williams gets into a fight with racist cops prior to getting on the boat for the tournament. Their primary slur for him is "jig", but when Williams fights back, they look positively enthusiastic upon getting a chance to do him ugly for "assaulting a police officer."
  • Bittersweet Ending: Lee avenges his sister and completes his mission, but Williams and Tania are dead.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Williams, in conjunction with the Sacrificial Lion situation.
  • Black Is Bigger in Bed: Williams is among the martial arts contestants offered some feminine "company" for the evening from Han's Paid Harem. He picks out four of the girls, and then apologizes to the rest of the girls that, um, he's "a little tired" this evening. Even so, he picked more girls than any of the other fighters (especially Lee).
  • Blade Below the Shoulder: Type 3. Han replaces his prosthetic hand with spiked and bladed weapons to fight against Lee.
  • Bodyguard Babes: Han's daughters are his personal bodyguards. As Roper says, "No one's more loyal than Daddy's little girl."
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: Han actually captures Lee at one point, after Lee has defeated dozens of guards and made his intentions to sabotage Han's operation all too clear. But unlike how he handled Williams, Han doesn't kill Lee immediately. Instead, he tries to get Roper to fight him to the death, apparently to set some kind of example (he calls it "edification") and also perhaps to test Roper's loyalty. However, Roper refuses (not really to Han's surprise) and chaos ultimately ensues. Chaos, of course, that Han could have easily prevented had he killed Lee (and Roper) when he had the chance.
  • Brick Break: O'Hara does this numerous times (once to a stack of boards that is on fire) culminating in splitting a board with a standing punch right in front of Lee. Lee's response: "Boards don't hit back." It turns out that O'Hara doesn't either.
  • Briefs Boasting: The unnamed opponent wearing black bikini briefs certainly loves to brag.
  • The Bully: Parsons abuses some poor kid on the boat carrying oranges and tries to goad Lee into a fight. He gets humiliated twice - first by Lee while demonstrating "the art of fighting without fighting" and then by Williams, who stomps him in the tournament without much effort.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: As if showing the man his opium lab wasn't enough, Han freely admits to Roper that his business is all about corruption.
  • Cartoonish Supervillainy: Lampshaded by Williams after seeing Han's island base and his overtly blatant evil.
    Williams: Man... you come right out of a comic book.
  • The Casanova: Both Williams and Roper have a way with the ladies.
  • Catchphrase: Roper's appears to be "Wanna bet?"
  • Cats Have Nine Lives: Han challenges Roper to pull the cord on a guillotine with a cat in said guillotine. Instead, Roper picks the cat up, says "Now you've got eight more" and lets it go.
  • Cat Up a Tree: Played with. After Han tells Roper he wants him to use a guillotine on a cat, Roper instead takes it off and gives it a pet before sending it away.
  • The Cavalry Arrives Late: The military flies to the island just after the villains are taken care of and mere seconds before the end credits.
  • Celibate Hero: Unlike Roper and Williams, Lee doesn't indulge in any of the girls from Han's harem, presumably because he is a monk. The only woman he wants to deal with is the undercover agent who came ahead of him, only to get briefed, and after he finds her, there is nothing romantic about their interactions at all. As the opening sequence establishes, he's a monk.
  • Chairman of the Brawl: During the final battle, someone gets hit by a chair.
  • Chekhov's Gun: In one scene, Roper is taken through Mr. Han's museum, which includes a glass display case with several replacement weapon-hands. One of them, a metal claw, is used during the big fight with Lee in the end. In addition, during the big fight (which takes place in said museum room, acting as another Chekhov's Gun), Mr. Han tries throwing a spear at Lee, which goes through a wall and into the Hall of Mirrors beyond. The climax of the movie involves Lee kicking Han right into the spear and Impaling Him With Extreme Prejudice. Also, the advice that Bruce takes about "smashing the image" in order to defeat Han was itself a Chekhov's Lecture given by Bruce's master near the very beginning of the film.
  • Clothing Damage: Lee's shirt gets torn at the beginning of the fight in the drug factory. He then ditches the shirt and spends the rest of the movie shirtless.
  • Combat Pragmatist:
    • When Roper is caught in an armbar, instead of using a martial arts technique to get out of it, he opts to simply bite his opponent's leg. (Humorously, any grappler knows that in real life this would only land you a broken arm rather than a hold escape.)
    • Lee vs Han isn't a remotely fair fight going on physical prowess alone. Han has to use weapons and dirty tricks to keep up with Lee.
  • Co-Dragons: Bolo and O'Hara are Han's two top enforcers on the island. The Hero Lee fights O'Hara, with whom he has a deeply personal enmity, while Deuteragonist Roper fights Bolo immediately prior to the Final Battle.
  • Colour-Coded Characters: In the Final Battle, all of Han's henchmen are dressed in white gi, while all of the shanghaied men are dressed in black attire.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: Every hero (and even a villain in one scene) gets the chance to kick the crap out of multiple guys at once, but their one-on-one fights are more protracted.
  • Creepy Souvenir: The skeletal hand among all of the other warrior-related gadgets in Han's trophy room, which he describes to Roper with this exact term. It's pretty much implied that it's his own missing hand, considering the affable sarcasm he uses when he says it.
  • Cultured Badass: Lee starts the movie by winning a non-lethal bout against Sammo Hung, after which he discusses Shaolin philosophy with his teacher.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • Lee vs O'Hara. We're led to believe that O'Hara will put up a reasonable fight, being The Dragon and all. Instead, he doesn't even get the courtesy of getting a punch in (well, he gets a kick, but Lee is just too quick for him), being absolutely trashed in a variety of ways.
    • Lee's fight with Han's minions in the drug factory counts as well. By the time Lee's captured, he's already mowed down at least a couple dozen of them. From the time the fight starts to the moment it ends, Lee takes down 50 people, most of them with one or two blows each.
    • Williams beats Parsons in combat with little to no difficulty. Sadly, he gets pulverised by Han later.
  • Daddy's Little Villain: Han trained his daughters as his personal bodyguards on the theory that no one will be more loyal to him. One of them tosses Roper clear off his feet rather than give him a handshake.
    Roper: Nobody's as loyal as Daddy's little girl.
  • Dead Guy on Display: Williams. Roper sees him and damn near soils himself.
  • Death by Cameo: Jackie Chan was a stuntman and extra for the film before he became famous. He appears during the drug factory battle, playing the mook who tries to bearhug Lee from behind before Lee puts him in an armlock and grabs his hair before snapping his neck. He is also one of the guards who Lee hits with the quarterstaff (Jackie was accidentally hit in real life in this scene).
  • Death Glare:
    • Lee's response when a mook chastises him about not doing the morning routine in uniform. Wisely, the mook retreats without another word.
    • Hell, you could make a Drinking Game for all the times Bruce Lee glares at someone and be totally plastered by the end.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Surely everyone who sees the film is expecting the slick and ultra-cool Williams to make it to the finale right along with Lee and Roper. His mid-film murder is a genuine stunner, and John Saxon's reaction to William's dead body surely mirrors the audience's reaction.
  • Deuteragonist: Roper. He gets his own story arc with Han completely independent from Lee's, and a pretty solid dose of Character Development. Not to mention that their arcs meet in the finale, and Roper, who has no personal issue with Lee and clearly knows what he's capable of, doesn't even consider fighting Lee for even a second after Han orders him to, choosing instead to team up with Lee to take down Han's empire. John Saxon is billed right next to Bruce Lee in the opening credits, and it doesn't feel unjustified.
  • Divide and Conquer: Defied. Han tries to force Roper and Lee to fight to the death but they refuse. He sends Bolo in to do the job instead.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The two racist cops that are clobbered by Williams are obviously looking for any reason to apply Police Brutality on a black guy, but the one that starts the fight seemingly really hates the fact Williams was going to go to Hawaii in his flight to Hong Kong.
  • Doesn't Like Guns: Much to Lee's disappointment, Han does not allow guns on his island because he had a bad experience with them. It would also make him vulnerable to assassination and provide an easy pretext for outside forces to perform a raid of his island.
  • Don't Think, Feel: One of Lee's lines in this film is the Trope Namer.
    "It is like a finger, pointing away to the moon...(Dope Slap) Don't concentrate on the finger or you will miss all that heavenly glory."
  • Dope Slap: Lee repeatedly (but gently) does this to a Shaolin student. See above under Don't Think, Feel.
  • The Dragon: Bolo for Mr. Han. Killing him falls to Roper, at Roper's insistence, rather than Lee (who goes straight for Han as soon as Bolo is defeated).
  • Drama-Preserving Handicap: No one, not even Han, can reasonably match Lee in a fight. So he not only uses claw hands, but traps Lee in the famous Hall of Mirrors to try and even the odds.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him:
    • O'Hara's death should be expected, as he is a villain and Lee wants revenge for his sister's death, but instead of dying in the climax as is usually the case in revenge plots, he kicks it midway through the movie in a pretty one-sided battle against Lee.
    • Tania is killed offscreen and abruptly.
  • Dual Wielding: Between using the quarterstaff and the nunchakus, Lee picks up and wields two Eskrima bastones.
  • Duel to the Death: Several - Lee vs. O'Hara, Williams vs. Han, Roper vs. Bolo, and Lee vs. Han.
  • Escalating Brawl: The climactic battle starts off with Roper and Bolo fighting one-on-one. After Roper kills Bolo, Han sends his mooks to Zerg Rush Roper and Lee, who hold them off until Han's prisoners (recently released by Mei Ling) launch their own attack and all hell breaks loose.
  • Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting: The film ends with a massive kung fu battle. On one side you have Han's army of martial arts students, trained to kill mercilessly with their bare hands. On the other side you have... a bunch of vagrants and runaways, kidnapped from the streets of Hong Kong and freshly released from Han's dungeons. And Bruce Lee. The two sides appear to be about evenly matched, and somehow some of the men in vagrant uniform show kung fu moves too.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Han will beat your best friend to death and then show you his corpse, not out of sadism but because he wants you to join him and would rather you be fully aware of the depravities you'll be party to as his ally. Needless to say, Roper doesn't go for it.
  • Evil Plan: Han has a long-running one involving drug and Sex Slave trafficking. He uses the tournament to recruit new talent.
  • Final Battle: A gigantic melee between Han's mooks in white and the freed prisoners in black (see Color-Coded Characters). This is also the key sign that the film was shot in China.
  • Finishing Stomp: Lee finishes off O'Hara with a leaping, two-foot stomp.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Lee and Roper may not see eye-to-eye at first, but they waste little time in teaming up against Han's mooks during the climax.
  • Flashback: Several early in the movie, showing the backstories and motivations of the characters.
  • Foreign Queasine: Williams is disgusted by the food at the banquet.
  • Funny Bruce Lee Noises: Of course the Trope Namer does this, especially in his fights with O'Hara and Han.
  • The Gambling Addict: Roper. It's implied this is why he's in debt in the first place, hence why he enters the tournament.
  • Genius Bruiser: Lee isn't just a kickass fighter; he's also a philosopher, as his teacher taught him.
  • Genre Mashup: It's a martial arts film with the trappings of a James Bond film with a bit of blaxploitation thrown in.
  • Genre Refugee: Williams is a Blaxploitation character in a martial-arts film. Together with Cleopatra Jones (which came out a month prior), this led to a crop of blaxploitation / kung fu mashup movies in the years to follow. Williams' actor, Jim Kelly, starred in a few of these, most notably Black Belt Jones.
  • Genre Savvy: When Han orders Roper to fight Lee to the death, Roper immediately declines. Not only does he have no personal beef with Lee, he has seen what Lee's capable of, and even if he is an unlucky gambler, he's clearly aware that a fight with Lee isn't a profitable bet. Instead, he does the smart thing and immediately teams up with Lee.
  • A Glass in the Hand: After being soundly defeated by Lee, O'Hara grabs a bottle and shatters it, intending to use it on Lee. Unfortunately for O'Hara, this wasn't enough to prevent him being literally crushed underfoot.
  • Good Colors, Evil Colors: Inverts the Western convention. In Chinese culture white is associated with death and black is associated with life. In the Final Battle, Han's mooks all wear white and all of the prisoners fighting them wear black.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Subverted. O'Hara has a (usually) heroic "crossing one eye but not damaging it" scar, but is definitely evil.
  • Good Weapon, Evil Weapon: Lee uses a Martial Arts Staff, dual bastones and a nunchaku on occasion and his own style of martial arts the rest of the time, while Han's evilness is emphasized by his penchant for sinister-looking claw hands.
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: O'Hara is getting destroyed by Lee, and in frustration grabs a bottle from an on-looker and smashes it. (Goof here. In the scene where he actually breaks it, he ends up with a very tiny stem of the bottle in his hand, with very small jagged edges to act as a weapon. In the next scene cut, he is threatening Lee with a more visually appropriately broken bottle.) Of course, it still doesn't do him any good...
  • Groin Attack: Lee's sister gives one to a mook in a flashback, while Lee also delivers one to O'Hara during their fight, and Roper gives one to Bolo.
  • Guile Hero:
    • Roper is a gambler who begins to purposefully lose a fight in order to swindle a spectator out of money and is upfront about the fact that he plans to trick Lee into losing money. Despite this, he is still seen as charming to both the audience and the other characters, in part because while he may want Lee's cash, he's nothing but respectful of Lee's talents and recognizes how much of a martial arts master Lee is.
    • Lee codified this as part of his fighting style, "The Art of Fighting Without Fighting".
  • Hall of Mirrors: The setting for the final showdown is one of these where Han avoids Lee through the reflection trick.
  • Hand Wave: The reason Lee doesn't gets a gun from Interpol when they offer him any equipment and no guns are ever seen on the island is a complicated issue regarding weapons ownership legalities in British territorial waters and Han having survived a prior assassination attempt. Lee can only show (not entirely fictional) annoyance at hearing that explanation.
  • Hero of Another Story: Lee may be The Hero, but Roper and Williams have their own backstories that are shown via flashbacks, and they all find themselves opposing Han.
  • Hit Me, Dammit!: Lee teaching a younger student to kick with feeling (but not anger).
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Han tries to recruit Roper into his organization, playing on Roper's debts in America, then directly after showing his whole drug lab and plans, shows Roper the hanging body of Williams (who is a close friend of Roper), and seems to accept Roper joining despite Roper doing so while clearly full of rage at his friend's death. Unsurprisingly, this comes back to bite Han badly.
  • Hustling the Mark: Roper and Williams pull this trick in a tournament fight.
  • If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten!: Han tests Roper's limits with a near-literal example of this. When Han places his pet cat onto a guillotine, Roper saves the cat, says "Now you've got eight more," and lets the cat go. Han used this situation to see if Roper had a line he would not cross; he shows Roper that the pull chain was just for a secret elevator, not the guillotine.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Mr. Han meets his end when Lee kicks him into a spear that Han had earlier hurled at him during an early part of their final duel, which also makes this a case of Hoist by His Own Petard.
  • Improvised Weapon: The confused mook that bears witness to Lee wielding nunchucks attempts to counter by grabbing a nearby piece of wood. It doesn't go well.
  • Inertial Impalement: Mr. Han meets his end when Lee kicks him right into a spear sticking out of a wall, a spear that Han tried to kill Lee with in the adjoining chamber earlier on in the fight.
  • Intimidation Demonstration:
    • O'Hara breaks a board with his fist in an intimidating fashion. Lee is not impressed.
      "Boards don't hit back."
    • Bolo gets a nice introduction when Han brings him in fight (and effortlessly kill) several guards who failed to catch Lee.
  • It's Personal with the Dragon: Lee's rivalry with O'Hara stems from the death of his sister.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Roper is a conman, but he has his lines. He wants nothing to do with Han's operation, and he genuinely respects Lee and teams up with him during the Final Battle.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: Lee kills O'Hara with a jumping double stomp after being pushed too far by the latter's attempt to kill him with broken bottles.
  • Killed Offscreen: Tania, Han's assistant, is seen dead after the final battle. How she died and who killed her is a mystery.
  • Kung-Shui: Evident in the climax where chairs, staffs, and anything made of wood is shattered to splinters.
  • Last-Name Basis: Every main character goes by his last name.
  • Leave Him to Me!: After Roper declines to fight Lee, and Han sends Bolo after Roper, Lee steps forward to take up the fight by Roper waves him back and takes on Bolo himself. It's not as one-sided a fight as Lee and O'Hara, but Roper shows he's got game and dispatches Bolo with enough fight left in his tank to kick some more ass in the Final Battle.
  • Left Hanging: Roper helps Lee save the day in the end, but after the dust has settled, he never got the money to settle his debt with the mob (which was the whole point of Roper entering the tournament to start with). As the story ends here, how Roper intends to solve this problem is left to the viewer's imagination.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Lee moves like greased lightning, yet he can incapacitate most men with a single blow or two.
  • Literal Metaphor: Early in the film, Lee's master tells him, "The enemy has only images and illusions, behind which he hides his true motives. Destroy the image and you will break the enemy." When fighting Han in the hall of mirrors, Lee reinterprets this advice and begins to break the mirrors so he can draw Han out.
  • Loan Shark: Roper's mob creditors are of this ilk, unsurprisingly. When they try to tell him about the "interest" they're charging on his debt, it doesn't take long for things to get violent.
  • Lots of Luggage: Roper brings several rickshaws worth of luggage with him on his way to the tournament, which seems to be a quirk of his. This also may be a subtle dig at the baggage of his backstory, as he essentially joins the tournament to get out of the USA and avoid mafia bill collectors that are starting to get violent about his debt to them.
  • Made of Iron: O'Hara is played up as this in the video that Lee watches. Subverted when they actually fight; against Lee, O'Hara may as well be Made of Plasticine.
  • Manly Tears: If you watch carefully, you'll see Lee silently crying when he learns the true fate of his sister.
  • Man Bites Man: Roper bites down on Bolo while in a leg lock to get him to let go.
  • Meaningful Name: Roper is a con man who ropes people into his bets.
  • Meditation Power Up: When trapped in a chamber in midst of his rampage, Lee hangs the nunchaku off his neck and sits down in half lotus until being allowed to kick ass again.
  • Men of Sherwood: The imprisoned Black Robes in the Final Battle. Han slashes one of them.
  • Mission Briefing: Braithwaite gives Lee one before sending him to Han's island.
  • Mooks: The White Robes in the Final Battle.
  • Morality Chain Beyond the Grave: This is explicitly addressed during the cemetery scene where Lee swears vengeance for Su Lin:
    Lee: You will not agree with what I'm going to do. It is contrary to all that you have taught me, and all that Su Lin believed. I must leave. Please try to find a way to forgive me.
  • Mugging the Monster:
    • There were about a dozen or so people on that boat. Parson decided Lee was the best one to pick a fight with. (Really, though, he was lucky; Lee was content to just play a prank on him, while Williams and Roper would have more likely whooped him.)
    • Both Roper and Williams are introduced beating up groups of men who thought they'd be easy pickings: mafia debt collectors for Roper, racist cops for Williams.
  • Multi-Mook Melee: Bruce Lee vs. fifty mooks. Guess who wins.
  • Neck Snap: Quite a few people are killed this way, including one character (Jackie Chan in his cameo appearance) getting his neck snapped by Lee during a battle.
  • Nerves of Steel:
    • Lee naturally. Roper and Williams also exhibit this trait, but Lee's definitely the one that shows it the most. Among his exploits, Lee slaps a cobra on the head just to piss it off so he can use it to scare the mooks out of the radio room. Then he enters the room with zero regard for the venomous snake he put in there, and while sending out the radio signal, makes an annoyed face and seems put out that he has to step on said snake to get it to leave him alone long enough to finish his message and leave. Then, he simply exits the room and leaves it to slither around Han's underground lair.
    • After fighting a majority of Han's mooks underground, when Lee gets trapped in a room he can't escape from, he simply drapes his nun chucks around his neck, sits on the floor, and waits.
  • Never Bring A Knife To A Fistfight:
    • Lee's uncle slashes O'Hara's face with a knife but is disarmed with a few punches and kicks.
    • Later, O'Hara comes after Lee with two broken bottles and is similarly disarmed.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Any chance Han had of getting Roper to join his organization, if he actually had any chance to do so, evaporated the SECOND Roper saw that Han had murdered Williams. He has a hard time hiding his disgust for Han after seeing the body, and even then, likely only makes a token effort to hide it because he doesn't want to end up hung up there as well by giving the game away. Han seems to sense it too, but waits until Roper refuses to fight Lee for confirmation.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Han kills Williams by beating him to death with his cast iron hand.
  • Not Just a Tournament: The trope cuts both ways. The hero participates in the tournament, but was actually sent there to uncover evidence about the tournament organizer's criminal activities, while Han is holding the tournament as a method to recruit new talent for his criminal organization.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Roper has three of them: one comical-yet-serious one when Han reveals his opium ring, one when he sees Williams' corpse (he slow motion mouths the words "Oh shit"), and a debatable third one when Han orders Roper to fight Lee. In the first two cases, Roper may be a con artist, but he draws the line at murder and drug trafficking; in the last, he has seen what Lee is capable of and doesn't want to mess with him, least of all on behalf of a murdering bastard like Han.
    • And then there are the two villains in the radio room when Lee unleashes a venomous snake. They waste little time in getting the hell out.
  • Older Hero vs. Younger Villain: Inverted. If the characters are the same ages as their actors, Han is old enough to be Lee's father.
  • Opium Den: Williams meets his end in one of these at the hands of Mr. Han.
  • Pacifist Dojo: The Shaolin Temple. Han was a student, but perverted the arts for evil.
  • Police Are Useless: The Hong Kong Police have been utterly ineffective at trying to apprehend Han. They have been unable to gather any evidence, they have not been able to communicate with their undercover agent in the compound, their hands are tied in general because of the absurdities of politics between Hong Kong and mainland China (and Han's island lying in the border) and when Lee sends out a message, the cavalry arrives at least half an hour late.
  • Police Brutality: Inverted in Williams' back-story when he kicks the crap out of racist police officers and then drives off in their car.
  • Power Fist: Mr Han conceals one, while wearing gloves, and uses it for offense and defense.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Han being dead serious about the tournament rules and his admonishing of O'Hara's use of dirty tricks agains Lee during their fight may appear to be an example of Even Evil Has Standards at first, but on closer inspection, it's just a front for Han to make it a legitimate tournament for martial artists in order to lure them in there in the first place and, in his hopes, later recruit them, which he readily admits to Roper later on. It's especially noticeable when Han is no better than O'Hara when it comes to resorting to cheap tricks during his fight with Lee at the climax.
  • Pre Ass Kicking One Liner:
    Lee: You have offended my family, and you have offended the Shaolin Temple.
    Williams: Man... you come right out of a comic book. (Subverted, though, in that Han beats Williams to death.)
    Lee: Boards don't hit back.
  • Punched Across the Room: In the scene where Lee kicks O'Hara off his feet and into a crowd of spectators, one of the stunt men was bowled over with such force that he broke his arm.
  • A Pupil of Mine Until He Turned to Evil: Han was a student at the Shaolin temple until he became an organized crime boss. Lee, a more loyal student of the temple, is sent to stop him.
    Lee: You have offended my family, and you have offended the Shaolin temple.
  • The Quiet One:
    • Lee is the strong, quiet type.
    • O'Hara and Bolo. The former only has one line in the film - "You will attend the morning ritual in unifom".
  • Rank Scales with Asskicking: Han, who is a renegade from the same Shaolin temple that produced Lee. As one might expect, he puts up more of a fight than either of his badass main enforcers Bolo or O'Hara.
  • Rated M for Manly: Bruce Lee in a fighting tournament as a secret agent? Yes, that earns the rating.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Braithwaite is this, if not especially effective. It's not entirely his fault, though.
  • Red Right Hand: Mr. Han is missing one hand and likes to replace it with various killer prosthetics (such as a literal iron hand or the claws that inflicted the iconic scratch mark injuries on Lee). O'Hara also has a jagged scar on his face that we soon discover was inflicted by Lee's father in an attempt to stop O'Hara from raping Lee's sister.
  • Right-Hand Cat: Han, trying to recruit Roper into joining his organization, carries a fluffy white cat. To test Roper's resolve, Han sets the cat down in the business area of a guillotine and offers to let Roper pull the chain. Roper declines.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Williams, one of the three heroes, is killed mid-movie.
  • Same Language Dub:
    • Shih Kien (Han) couldn't speak English, so he was dubbed by Keye Luke.
    • Peter Archer (Parsons) was dubbed by another actor because the director didn't feel that his voice was "New Zealand" enough, though the dubbed voice sounded nothing like a New Zealander's accent.
    • When the extended Cantonese/Mandarin versions were released for the first time in English in 1998, some extra dubbing had to be done, because no English dialogue existed at that time for those scenes. One of the scenes involved Roy Chiao (Shaolin Abbott) and Bruce Lee. Chiao was still alive (he died shortly thereafter), and was able to dub himself, but Lee's voice was supplied by his biographer John Little. Luckily, Lee's real voice was left alone for the scenes that originally used it.
  • Saying Sound Effects Out Loud: When Williams is being threatened in Han's office, Han calls in some guards to beat him up. Williams says "Man, you come right out of a comic book!" and beats up the guards. This isn't strictly in the movie, but in the novelization (and possibly in some out-takes somewhere), he beats up said guards with appropriate shouts, like "Bam" and "Kapow".
  • Scenery Porn: One of Bruce Lee's stated goals was to show the beauty of Chinese culture in this movie, and good lord does it show, especially in the gorgeous dinner scene.
  • Shirtless Scene: Williams goes shirtless when he sneaks out of his room to exercise in the palace yard. Taking things to the next level, Lee forgoes a shirt for the rest of the movie after his first real brawl with Han's guards. But the grand prize goes to Bolo, who never puts on a shirt at all, lest anyone lose an opportunity to be intimidated by his physique.
  • Shout-Out:
    • One scene shows Lee dealing with an arrogant fellow contestant who wants a fight. Lee says the ship is too cramped for a duel, so they should take one of the lifeboats to a nearby island and settle things there. As soon as the other guy gets in, Lee kicks the lifeboat down and lets the poor schmuck get dragged behind the boat. This is a direct reference to Tsukahara Bokuden, who is believed to have done the same thing once.
    • Roper makes one to Laurel and Hardy.
      (to himself in the mirror) "Another fine mess you got me into."
  • Simple Solution Won't Work: During the briefing concerning Han, his secret island lair and the possibility he's using it as a drug lab, and the martial arts tournament Han has organized which he's being asked to use to infiltrate the island and find evidence, Lee asks Braithwaite why he cannot bring along a gun and maybe shoot Han when he's offered any equipment he wishes. Braithwaite immediately shoots it down by mentioning that Han's island is located right in the China/Hong Kong border which would make any gunfire that is not performed by the police a legal nightmare, plus Han is paranoid of people bringing guns to said island because of a Noodle Incident. So fists it is.note 
  • Soft Glass: During the filming, Bruce Lee got quite badly lacerated during a take of his fight with O'Hara, as the glass bottles Robert Wall smashed to make his ersatz daggers were quite real.
  • Sore Loser: O'Hara is so angry that Lee beat him that he breaks two glass bottles and tries to attack Lee with them, which is what leads to Lee finally ending his life.
  • Soul Brotha: Williams is a skilled and afroed martial artist that is "too busy looking good" to have time for losing. This dude is so cool the music even changes to become funkier when he makes his first appearance after the credits scene.
  • Spoiler Cover: Williams' corpse is on the poster, spoiling his death.
  • Stating the Simple Solution: Lee proposes to Braithewaite that they just shoot Han, only for a hasty explanation that Han would never allow a gun to ever be brought to his home. Lee visibly rolls his eyes at this. This is because even though Bruce Lee was a martial arts master without equal at the time, he had absolutely no illusions on the firearms vs. martial arts debate and, playing a (sort of) secret agent in this movie, very much wanted to use one. But the producers nixed this idea, much to Bruce's annoyance.
  • Storming the Castle: The climax plays with this trope slightly by having the force that attacks the villain's base be prisoners freed from within.
  • Suppressed Rage: Roper is quivering with barely-restrained fury when Han shows him Williams' dead body.
    Roper: And you want me to join this?
  • Swiss-Army Appendage: Mr. Han has a hand-stump, to which he attaches a jade fist, tiger claws and a bagh nakh.
  • Talking to the Dead: Lee visits the graves of his mother and sister, asking them to forgive him for his plan to avenge Su Lin.
  • A Threesome Is Hot: The hostess of the island brings an assortment of girls around for each of the fighters to choose a companion for the night. Williams chooses four, and then apologizes to the rest for snubbing them because he's a little tired.
  • The Brute: Bolo. He's Co-Dragons with O'Hara under Mr. Han, and is both very strong and very skilled at combat.
  • To Win Without Fighting: Lee describes his fighting style to an Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy as "the art of fighting without fighting," then proceeds to demonstrate it by tricking him into boarding a tiny row-boat which Lee then kicks out, causing it to be dragged behind the ship.
  • Tranquil Fury: Lee is chock full of this trope. When facing O'Hara, he doesn't break out the Funny Bruce Lee Noises until after O'Hara attacks with anger on the brain, and even then, he keeps his cool...until he kills him. Even when facing Han, Lee states his intentions in an eerily calm tone before proceeding with the fight:
    Lee: You have offended my family, and you have offended The Shaolin Temple.
  • Trapped by Gambling Debts: Subverted. Roper has built up some sizable gambling debts, which Han tries to use to persuade him to become his agent in America. Roper, however, refuses to join him when Han tries to get him to fight Lee to the death. (The fact that Han had just killed Roper's friend Williams may have something to do with that, as well as the fact that while he's a degenerate gambler who isn't afraid to take some cash from a dumb mark, he has lines he won't cross.)
  • Trope Codifier: Since this movie, almost every other work of martial arts tournament fiction has borrowed from Enter The Dragon, particularly its usage of the main hero seeking revenge against the Big Bad in a fighting tournament in a faraway exotic location full of colorful villains and other supporting heroes with their own personal motives for entering.
  • Unknown Rival:
    • Oddly enough, Han notices and confronts Williams and Roper before he ever meets the protagonist of the movie. This is in spite of the fact that Lee was sent there for the specific purpose of bringing the villain down while the two minor characters were at the tournament for unrelated reasons.
    • Also O'Hara is killed by Lee without knowing that he is fighting the brother of Su Lin.
  • Use Their Own Weapon Against Them: Han throws a spear at Lee, which goes straight through a wall and stays there. During the fight, Lee kicks Han into the spear and kills him.
  • The Vietnam Vet: A bit of dialogue between Williams and Roper suggests that they both fought in 'Nam.
  • Villainous Breakdown: O’Hara seemed confident he could beat Lee, but when the fight starts, Lee takes him down rather easily. O'Hara gets angry and tries to beat up Lee but fails horribly. He then tries to kill Lee with broken bottles, who again overpowers O’Hara and kills him.
  • Violence Is Disturbing: Even though O'Hara was a treacherous bastard who caused Su Lin's death and attacked Lee himself with a broken bottle, Lee looks on the verge of tears after stamping his chest in.
  • Warrior Monk: Lee, courtesy of his Shaolin training. The first two scenes establish both his ass-kicking and philosophical credentials. (The philosophy discussion was in fact added to the script by Bruce himself.)
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Mei Ling is last seen freeing the captives.
  • What the Fu Are You Doing?: A mook who has been given little training trying to use nunchucks while he thinks no one can see. His obvious mistakes give away his inexperience to Lee, who proceeds to demonstrate how it's done. This may not be shown on the edit/cut/version you're watching, though.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Lee brings this up right away, but he's visibly disappointed by the answer (guns aren't allowed on Han's island). Off-screen, Bruce Lee was excited about playing a sort-of secret agent in this movie because he very much wanted to use a gun in at least one scene. Thanks to the film's producers nixing this idea, the annoyance Lee portrays on-camera is real.
  • The Worf Effect:
    • Williams takes down two cops, Parsons, and a gang of mooks in order to show he is a badass...then he goes up against Han.
    • We're shown multiple times how scary O'Hara is... then he goes up against Lee, who barely breaks a sweat while wiping the floor with him.
  • Wolverine Claws: Han replaces his prosthetic hand with these in the final fight against Lee.
  • Won't Do Your Dirty Work: Han tries to get Roper to fight Lee to the death, apparently as a test of loyalty. Roper, who bears no ill-will towards Lee, and who is very aware of how strong a fighter Lee is, refuses. He'd rather fight Bolo AND Han's karate army rather than Lee, which gives a clear indication as to just how much he respects Lee's skills.
  • Wrestler in All of Us:
    • Bolo's style, while Eastern in origin, still consists of a lot of grappling—and even a backbreaker.
    • In the opening fight scene, Lee defeats his opponent via a crucifix armbar.
  • Yellow Peril: With the film having a large number of Asian characters, including the hero, one might see an Asian villain as to be expected and thus, an aversion. However, Mr. Han nonetheless draws on stereotypes from such Yellow Peril characters as Fu Manchu and Dr. No, including living on his own private island, having an underground lair, keeping harems of women, smuggling opium, kidnapping innocents, being fascinated with weaponry and martial arts, and possibly dabbling in black magic.
  • You Have Failed Me: When Han's security guards fail at their duties, he forces them to fight Bolo to "prove their worth". It's nothing more than a public execution.
  • Zen Slap: During the scene with his student, Lee smacks his student on the head several times, once for telling him "Let me think..." when asked a question about how he felt ("Don't think. Feeeeeeeel."), and again when he focuses on Lee's finger when he's talking about a finger pointing to the moon.
    Lee: Don't concentrate on the finger, or you will miss all the heavenly glory.


Video Example(s):


Enter the Dragon

[Trope Namer] In the film, Lee is attempting to teach a student not how to kick the right way, but to kick the "right" way.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / DontThinkFeel

Media sources: