Enter the Dragon

Movie review by
Charles Cassady Jr., Common Sense Media
Enter the Dragon Movie Poster Image
Popular with kids
Legendary Bruce Lee action tale has violence, sex, cursing.
  • R
  • 1973
  • 98 minutes

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 20 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

No positive messages. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Bruce Lee's character is stoic, upstanding, righteous -- but murderous in avenging his late sister. Producers thought U.S. audiences wouldn't accept an Asian lead alone. To appeal to the most racially diverse audience, they back him up with two supporting good-guy fighters (said to be Vietnam War comrades), a white and a black American, who are a little more roguish. Uniformed American police portrayed as racist thugs, the Asian villain as a white slaver (a movie stereotype going back to silent days). While women are on the whole viewed as sex objects, an extended scene shows the sister of Bruce Lee's character defending herself from assailants in an exciting scene in which she shows tremendous skill in martial arts. 


Countless martial-arts poundings, many ending in death. Bloodshed as the villain utilizes a variety of slashing/edged weapons on his missing hand. A death via impaling. A female character, threatened with rape, kills herself with a jagged piece of glass (not shown explicitly). Dead body shown washing ashore. One of the martial arts competitors is a bully: He kicks the defenseless man who serves oranges to the passengers of the ship that is taking Lee and the competitors to the island. This bully tries to mess with Lee's character, who puts the bully in his place. 


Brief nudity -- bare breasts and backsides -- in a harem of girls supplied to martial-arts athletes like goodie bags (implicit in this scene is a stereotype about a black man's awesome sexual prowess; he selects several concubines, while a white hero settles for one). 


Occasional profanity: "s--t," "bulls--t," "damn." Two cops hassling an African American man use the slur "jig." 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The villain is a heroin dealer; we see corpses with needle marks in the arms and a rather silly psychedelic drug party full of face-painted girls. Some alcohol consumption at a dinner party. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Enter the Dragon is a classic 1973 Bruce Lee martial arts movie. Unsurprisingly, there's frequent martial arts-style violence -- lots of kicking and punching, but also characters killed by having their necks broken, a scene in which a woman commits suicide through hari-kari, a death by hanging, and another character getting impaled by a spear. The villain's nefarious activities include peddling heroin and turning drug-addicted women into international sex slaves. The women are offered to the heroes, and there's brief female nudity in the bedroom, as well as imagery of a drugged-up, hippie-style party. Occasional profanity is heard, including a racist slur used by police officers. There's also some drinking and cigarette smoking. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 4, 5, and 10-year-old Written byMrErico79 July 9, 2019
Adult Written byharris231 September 10, 2012
Kid, 9 years old March 6, 2021
Teen, 13 years old Written bySxvage July 23, 2020
Not that violent

What's the story?

ENTER THE DRAGON was a breakthrough as a joint U.S.-Hong Kong big-budget martial arts extravaganza (filmed in English), its repute only enhanced by the sudden death of star Bruce Lee immediately before its release. He plays a peerless master/teacher of personal combat at the Shaolin Temple, approached by an international crime-busting agency to help bring down an elusive crime lord called Han -- himself a Shaolin disciple gone bad. Han runs his drug/prostitution/slavery empire from a private island stronghold where guns are forbidden; instead he recruits world-class martial artists as his guards and enforcers. Lee goes to the island on the pretext of competing in Han's tournaments, but in fact he's to make contact with an agent already there undercover. It's an excuse for the fight scenes at which Bruce Lee and other actor-athletes here excel.

Is it any good?

The plotline is like one of those much parodied, cheapo James Bond knockoffs (except Lee's character isn't allowed to show any interest in romance), and character development is slight at best. But Bruce Lee's wiry physique, strong presence, and hyperkinetic action-acrobatics have ensured ENTER THE DRAGON a solid place in the hearts of action fans of all ages, and Lee's long, final duel with Han is a classic.

Even with its silly, dated, and schlocky elements, there's something so straightforward about how Enter the Dragon delivers the goods that it even earned respect from the Western critics who automatically condemned any kung fu movie as trash (at least before Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon came along). Sadly, we'll never know how much earlier Asian action tales would have been embraced had Lee survived to make bigger and better movies.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the appeal of Bruce Lee. What makes him special among the big screen's action heroes? 

  • How were women represented in this movie? How was the role of Lee's sister a contrast to the way women were represented overall? 

  • What are some of the ways in which martial arts movies have evolved since Enter the Dragon was released? What are some of the elements of the movie that make it a classic? 

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love action

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