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Enter the Dragon
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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?
For kids who love action
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.