The relative lack of martial arts movies in the theatres (not that there generally are many that come out during the Christmas season) made me turn to my DVD collection. It was odd and in many ways a bit like visiting old friends again.
It is interesting to see how much Martial Arts movies have changed over the years and how much still hasn't. I started by tour this time with Bruce Lee's Enter the Dragon. This is a classic by probably everyone's standards and one of the best Martial Arts films ever made. It was the last movie that Bruce Lee would ever make and probably one of the first that I was ever introduced to.
What amazed me is how this movie, now over 30 years old, still can hold a candle to newer movies like Kiss of the Dragon and Ong Bak, two other more recent Martial Arts movies that set in a contemporary world. Granted, the film quality as evident by the graininess around the figures could never be accepted by todayís standards. The camera angles are blatantly off to hide the pulled punches and choreographed hits. The dialog, hair, and clothing scream early 70's.
The plot is relatively simple, if not contrived. A major drug boss hosts a Martial Arts competition in order to conduct some white slavery and drug trafficking behind the scenes. Bruce Lee is recruited to infiltrate the deadly competition and, along side two American Martial Artists, manage to defeat the evil drug boss and put an end to this criminal ring.
But to listen to Bruce Lee in action and watch his lightning fast movies flash across the screen, I still get chills. I get flutters watching Bruce Lee fight off streams of attackers only to have to resign to submission as the doors seal him into the underground lair. And I canít help but cringe to the sound of breaking bones and the familiar kia call that has become the trademark of Bruce Lee.
So if you're starving for some Martial Arts this season, consider curling up with a classic like Enter the Dragon.
If you don't own this video already, Amazon.com sells a nice 2-disc set that comes with some great bonus features including several documentaries featuring Bruce Lee and some of his own private videos.