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PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
Enter the Dragon: 2 Disc Special Edition (1973)

Enter the Dragon: 2 Disc Special Edition (1973)

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Released 4-Aug-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Martial Arts Main Menu Audio-Linda Lee
Audio Commentary-Paul Heller (Producer)
Featurette-Making Of-Blood And Steel: Making Of Enter The Dragon
Featurette-Bruce Lee: In His Own Words
Featurette-Linda Lee Cadwell Interview Gallery
Featurette-1973 Featurette
Featurette-Backyard Workout With Bruce
Featurette-The Curse Of The Dragon
Featurette-Bruce Lee: A Warrior's Journey
Trailer-Mysterious Island, Champion Of Champions
Trailer-The Deadly 3. Island Fortress
TV Spots-7
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1973
Running Time 98:19 (Case: 102)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (42:42)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Robert Clouse
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Bruce Lee
John Saxon
Ahna Capri
Bob Wall
Shih Kien
Jim Kelly
Case ?
RPI $24.95 Music Lalo Schifrin


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
Italian
German
Spanish
Dutch
Arabic
Bulgarian
Romanian
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

"Be like water, my friend"

    At last! The definitive DVD release of the definitive martial arts film. This movie has now had three separate releases here in Region 4. The reviews of Enter The Dragon and Enter The Dragon : Special Edition can be found at these links. This one far exceeds the previous two both in terms of transfer quality and extras. I also own the Special Edition version and was able to directly compare the two, and the difference is astounding. One small change is that the original 1970s Warner Brothers logo has reappeared at the start of the film and the introduction by Linda Lee Cadwell has gone.

    For those of you unaware of this film, this is the first major studio martial arts film, the first major studio film headlined by an Asian leading man and certainly, up to the point of its release, the only martial arts film to make a major impact at the US box office. It is also the film which made Bruce Lee famous around the world. He was known before this, mostly amongst martial arts fans or people who saw him on US television in shows such as The Green Hornet, but this is the one that broke him into the big time. Unfortunately, before the film even premiered in America, he was dead. Probably partially due to the news of his death, this film ended up taking over US$90 million worldwide which was a lot in 1973.

    The plot of the film is pretty straight forward and plays out like a James Bond movie except that Bruce Lee doesn't feel the need for a gun. It involves a young Shaolin fighter called Lee (Bruce Lee) who is requested by his master to help a man from British Intelligence, Braithwaite (Geoffrey Weeks), to uncover evidence against a man called Han (Shih Kien with overdubbed dialogue from a different actor). In order to uncover the evidence, Braithwaite asks Lee to enter a martial arts tournament to be held on Han's island fortress. He does and soon he joins three other contestants on a junk heading for the island. The other contestants are Roper (John Saxon), Williams (US Karate Champion, Jim Kelly) and Parsons (Peter Archer). Shortly before leaving for the island, Lee also finds out that Han's bodyguard Oharra (Bob Wall) is responsible for his sister's death. This sets the film up for a great deal of martial arts action both in the tournament and around the fortress.

    Obviously, this is not great drama of human emotion and romance, however, it is chock full of great action all choreographed by Bruce Lee himself. There are some excellent martial arts sequences, probably some of the best you will see, and they do not resort to wire work to make their impact. The finale, set in a mirrored room is justifiably famous and maintains its tension even by today's standards. The thing which really makes this film stand out is the magnetism and presence of Bruce Lee himself. None of the other martial arts stars before or since have had anywhere near his screen presence or intensity. Also, watch out for young Jackie Chan and a slimmer Samo Hung in small roles.

    Realistically, this is not the greatest movie ever made and in terms of plot and general standard of acting it is only average, however its historical importance and its impact on Hollywood should not be underestimated. This film paved the way for stars such as Jackie Chan, Jet Li and Chow Yun Fat to star in major films and for directors from Hong Kong to be able to work in Hollywood.

    Overall, this is a film which should be owned by any serious action film fan and this is the edition that tops them all, especially considering the very reasonable price point for a two disc special edition.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality is quite simply stunning, especially when compared to the previous versions or any other film of this vintage.

    The feature is presented in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio 16x9 enhanced which is the original aspect ratio. From a technical perspective, the file size has increased from 4,296,672 Kb to 4,743,332 Kb when compared to the previous version indicating a higher bit rate over the same running time.

    The picture was clear and sharp throughout, with no evidence of low level noise, astonishingly good for a film of this age. There was occasionally some very light grain and some scenes were slightly out of focus although this would have been inherent in the source material. Sharpness and clarity are much improved over the previous versions. Shadow detail is also much improved - many scenes in the special edition were quite dark whereas the contrast is much better here and the detail is deeper in night scenes. It does not approach the level of detail in modern films but it is as good or better than you would expect. The blacks were excellent. The edge enhancement criticised in the previous review has virtually all been removed, although some minor instances remain.

    The colour was excellent throughout with all colours being well saturated and free from colour bleeding.

    From an artefacts perspective, the previous edition was roundly criticised by our reviewer, with good reason. These have virtually all been cleaned up in this version. The aliasing is virtually non existent, whereas this was fairly constant last time. I did notice a small amount on some suitcases at 20:50 and some minor shimmer during some camera pans. There are still some small black specks but there are far fewer than in the previous version. The reel change markers have disappeared as have the red marks and water mark noted in the previous review. In short, a huge effort has been made to clean up this transfer. Bravo!

    Subtitles are available in 11 languages. The English ones were clear, easy to read and very close to the spoken word.

    The layer change occurs at 42:42 and is extremely well done with only a very minor pause.
    

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio quality is very good. To my ears there is an improvement over the previous release but it is not as marked as that in the video quality.

    This DVD contains three audio options, an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack encoded at 384 Kb/s and Dolby Digital 1.0 tracks in French & Italian. Considering the source material, the 5.1 track has an excellent presence and uses all five speakers. Sound effects are very crisp and clear, which reminds you how silly the noises made during martial arts films of this vintage are.

    Dialogue is generally clear and easy to understand although some of it is obviously overdubbed by other actors.

    Lalo Schifrin's film score is great in a 1970s sort of way. It really works well with the film and adds to the overall feel.

    The surround speakers are used regularly during the 5.1 track, adding atmosphere throughout such as sound effects and music and also some specific directional effects such as the aeroplane at 8:49. Generally, this is low-key but considering the age of the film we probably get more than we would expect.

    The subwoofer was not used very much, but considering the nature of the film, this is to be expected.

    

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    The previous edition of the movie received a 5 star review for extras from our reviewer, which leaves me nowhere to go as our system does not allow a rating above 5. In addition to the extras on the previous version, this edition adds another 3.5 hours of top quality material. To my mind, the extras package here is approaching the breadth and quality of those found on the Lord of The Rings discs (well the theatrical versions anyway). It should be noted that two minor extras from the last version do not reappear here but I for one will not miss either of them. They are the 2 minute introduction to the film by Linda Lee Cadwell and the isolated music soundtrack. I will start by covering the extra features added for this release.

Menu - NEW

    The menu has been redone for this release and includes appropriate music and shots of Bruce Lee.

Blood & Steel : Making Of (30:13) - Disc 1 - NEW

    This documentary was made in 2003 and includes interviews with many of the surviving cast and crew including the producers, Paul Heller & Fred Weintraub, the screenwriter, Michael Allin, the composer, Lalo Schifrin and actors Peter Archer, John Saxon, Robert Wall, Samo Hung and Ahna Capri. Also interviewed is Bruce Lee's close friend and pupil, James Coburn. Discussion includes the difficulties with getting approval for the project, problems with local crew and methods in Hong Kong, anecdotes from the production, accidents and injuries which occurred, casting issues, some outtakes and the making of the mirror scene. Also included are some home movies which Ahna Capri took on set. All-in-all a fascinating look behind the scenes of this film.

Curse of the Dragon (87:26) - Disc 2 - NEW

    The first of two feature length documentaries, which other distributors would have issued as separate discs. Both feature scene selection and subtitles. In fact these are superior to most documentaries about Bruce Lee which I have seen issued as separate discs. This one focuses on Bruce Lee's life, family, career and personality as seen through the eyes of many of his closest friends and relatives including his brother Robert Lee, James Coburn, Chuck Norris, Kareem-Abdul Jabbar and various other students of his or other martial arts masters. There are also interviews with his biographer, film critics and a variety of other interested parties. Topics covered include his early life in the US, his time as a child star in Hong Kong, his martial arts teaching business in the US, fighting racism (literally) in the Chinese community, racism against him within the film and television business, the development of the Kung Fu TV series with his involvement, how he was rejected from the lead role despite the fact that it was designed for him, his early marital arts films in Hong Kong and then his rise to international stardom and his untimely death. The conspiracy theories about his death are covered as is the official version of events. The death of his son Brandon is also covered. There are details about his deep thinking, his interest in philosophy, the development of his own brand of martial arts, jeet kune do and his beliefs about life. The documentary is not just a 'love in' as it also covers his growing paranoia and his tendency towards being an overbearing bully when he did not get his way. Overall, this provides a great insight into the man, Bruce Lee. This documentary was made in 1993 and is presented in 4x3, 1.33:1.

Bruce Lee : A Warrior's Journey (99:57) - Disc 2 - NEW

    The second feature length documentary takes a different approach to the first one, focusing more on the different styles of martial arts which he studied and how he used those to develop his own style which he referred to as The Way of the Intercepting Fist. This also covers a variety of other aspects of his life including a debilitating back injury which kept him from martial arts for 6 months and footage from a variety of Television shows which he guested on including Longstreet and Marlowe with James Garner.

    However, the main focus of this documentary is on the film he started before Enter The Dragon, Game of Death, which he never finished. He was directing and starring in this film which focussed on him fighting his way up a five level pagoda, where each level was guarded by a martial artist from a different style. He was planning to show that having no particular style would defeat one specific style, which was the cornerstone of his martial arts philosophy. Shortly after his death the approximately 100 minutes of footage which he shot was edited and combined with footage of lookalikes to make the film that was finally released as Game of Death, however this bore little relation to Bruce Lee's plan for the film. In fact only a very small amount of Bruce Lee's footage was actually used. The producers of this documentary have taken all the footage and re-edited it to conform with Bruce Lee's script and shooting plan and the last half an hour of the documentary is the film (or at least the parts available) itself, in widescreen (non 16x9 enhanced). This is of great interest to any fan of Bruce Lee or martial arts films. If this film had been completed it seems like it would have been an excellent movie. The 30 minutes or so included here contain some excellent fight scenes and are better than most martial arts films you will see. This documentary was made in 2000. Highly Recommended.

Commentary - Paul Heller (Producer) & Michael Allin (Screenwriter) - Disc 1 - From Previous Version

    This commentary contains some interesting facts and anecdotes about the production and working with Bruce Lee. The problem is that it is quiet and Paul Heller has a boring voice. Also, when Michael Allin literally phones in, he is muffled and hard to hear. This is the same commentary track which appeared on the previous version. It is a shame that all the cast and crew members featured in the documentaries could not have done a commentary track.

Bruce Lee : In his own words (19:20) - Disc 1 - From Previous Version

    A black & white interview with Bruce Lee, I would guess from American television. In it he explains his philosophies on life and martial arts. It shows him to be a deep thinker with an interesting view on life, best explained by the quote I started this review with "Be like water, my friend". If this doesn't make any sense to you, you should watch this featurette.

Linda Lee Cadwell Interview Gallery (16:04) - Disc 1 - From Previous Version

    A selection of 10 interview snippets with Bruce Lee's widow, Linda Lee Cadwell about various aspects of Bruce's life and work especially Enter The Dragon. These are the same as the previous version except this time a play all function is included. Interesting.

Lair of the Dragon - 1973 Featurette (7:39) - Disc 1 - From Previous Version

    A short featurette made at the time of the movie which features behind the scenes footage. One thing this featurette shows you is what a wonderful job has been done restoring the film.

Lair of The Dragon - Backyard Workout (1:53) - Disc 1 - From Previous Version

    Black & white home movie footage of Bruce working out and kicking the stuffing out of a workout bag.

Theatrical Trailers (9:13) - Disc 2 - From Previous Version

    Four theatrical trailers from the original release and re-release of the film. Showing their age but worth watching. A Play All function is available.

TV Spots (5:45) - Disc 2 - From Previous Version

    Seven TV advertisements for the film. Again showing their age but worth watching. A Play All function is available.

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This version of Enter The Dragon, with the same extras and remastered transfer is being released in Region 1, Region 2 and Region 4. They are all exactly the same except for PAL/NTSC differences. They are all significantly better than any previously released versions. There was a previously available Region 3 release with different extras but since this lacks an English soundtrack I do not think it would be of much interest to Region 4 buyers. Any of the three 2 disc Special Editions would be an excellent buy, however you can probably buy the local one cheapest.

Summary

    This 2 disc set contains the most famous martial arts film ever made, starring Bruce Lee.

    The video quality is stunning especially when you consider that the film was made in 1973 on a small budget.

    The audio quality is very good.

    The disc has a truly fantastic set of extras worth more than the maximum five stars especially when you consider that the previous edition got 5 stars from our reviewer and this one adds 3.5 hours of top quality extras.

     On the basis of this extras package, an historically important and extremely entertaining action film, and a wonderful remaster, I have decided to award this package 5 stars overall. Highly recommended even if you already have one of the previous editions.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Saturday, August 21, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 1200, using Component output
DisplaySony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersBose 201 Direct Reflecting (Front), Phillips SB680V (Surround), Phillips MX731 (Center), Yamaha YST SW90 (Sub)

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