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Enter the Dragon ( ) aka. The Deadly Three, originally titled Blood and Steel is a 1973 Americanmarker martial arts film directed by Robert Clouse; starring martial artist Bruce Lee and Jim Kelly, as well as actor John Saxon. It is the last completed film Bruce Lee appeared in before his death. He died six days before the film was set to be released.

In 2004, Enter the Dragon was deemed "culturally significant" and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.


It was the first Chinese martial arts film to have been produced by a major Hollywoodmarker studio and was produced in association with Golden Harvest and Lee's Concord Production Company. The film is largely set in Hong Kongmarker.

Among the stuntmen for the film were members of the Seven Little Fortunes, including Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung. This was arguably instrumental in Chan and Hung's further association with Golden Harvest studios, which later launched their careers. The portly Hung is shown fighting Lee in the opening sequence of the movie.

The finished version of the film was significantly different from the original screenplay drafts as Bruce Lee revised much of the script himself, including having written and directed the film's opening Shaolin Monasterymarker fight sequence. Lee wanted to use the film as a vehicle for expressing what he saw as the beauty of his Chinese culture, rather than it being just another action film.


Lee is a Shaolinmarker martial artist from Hong Kongmarker who possesses great philosophical insight into martial arts as well as physical prowess. He earns himself an invitation to a martial arts competition on an island organised by the mysterious Han. Lee learns from his Sifu (master) that Han was also once a Shaolin student, but has abused their code of conduct by using his skills to gain wealth and power and was therefore expelled from the order.

At the same time, a man called Braithwaite from an international intelligence organization approaches Lee and asks for his help. The organization suspects that Han is involved in illegal drugs and prostitution dealings and has been investigating him secretly for some time. The island where Han's competition is held every three years was purchased by him after World War II when its nationality is still uncertain. Currently, part of the island is beyond international jurisdiction and it is where Han is suspected to carry out his illegal activities. He also runs a martial arts school on his island to recruit talents to serve him. Han rules over his island testing a secret drug formula on his servant girls.

Braithwaite's organization needs someone to infiltrate the island and gather evidence of the illegal operations before they can send in law enforcement forces. They had initially stationed a female operative called Mei Ling on Han's island who doubles as a prostitute, but has never received any contact from her since. Since Han disallows firearms on his island, Lee's prowess in martial arts makes him an ideal candidate for the mission. Lee meets his father before his departure and learns that Han's henchman O'Hara was responsible for the death of his elder sister several years ago. O'Hara and his men attempted to rape her and she committed suicide after being cornered.

Lee boards Han's private junk ship as they set sail for the island. Aboard the ship are several other competitors. One of them, Roper, is a White American playboy-gambler on the run from the mob, to whom he is heavily in debt. Another, Williams, is a Black American activist on the run from the law after defending himself from two racist White policemen in Los Angelesmarker. Yet another is Parsons, supposedly from New Zealand but has no clue about the New Zealand accident; he is a bully, and was outwitted by Lee without fighting. They meet with a warm reception upon arrival and are invited to a lavish banquet. That night, when Han offers prostitutes for company to the competitors, Lee seizes the opportunity to contact Mei Ling.

The next morning, Roper and Williams participate in the competition and defeat their respective opponents (Williams beating Parsons quite easily, Roper beat his opponents after some setbacks), earning some money from bets during the process. That night, Lee, with equipment supplied by Mei Ling, begins his search on the island for anything suspicious. He finds a secret entrance to an underground base but runs into Han's guards on the way. He takes them down before being identified and makes his way back to his room. He is seen by Williams, who is taking a stroll outside. Williams, in turn, is seen by a guard who reports him to Han. Meanwhile, Roper is enjoying the company of Tania, Han's beautiful assistant/PR.

The next day, Han warns the competitors about wandering out of their rooms at night. He announces that his guards had failed in their duties last night and will be punished. The guards are forced to fight with his chief bodyguard, the very muscular and strong Bolo, and they meet their horrible ends at the hands of the sadistic Bolo (they foolishly attacked him one at a time instead of all together). Moments later, Lee is called to his first match and his opponent turns out to be O'Hara. O'Hara tries to intimidate Lee by holding a board and smashing it with his fist, but Lee coolly responds, “Boards don't hit back,” then defeats O'Hara with a few simple blows, simply because he is much quicker. O'Hara is angered and retaliates using a couple of broken glass bottles. Eventually, Lee is forced to kill O'Hara. Han is disgraced by O'Hara's dishonourable actions and ends the competition for the day. Before that, he calls Williams to meet him in his study. Han accuses Williams of attacking his guards the previous night but Williams denies it and insults Han. Han calls for his men to kill Williams. Williams manages to take down all of them but is eventually killed by Han, who turns out to have a metal hand and expert skills at dodging Williams' kicks.

Later, Han takes Roper on a tour of his underground base and invites him to be his representative for his operations in the United Statesmarker. Roper is skeptical and asks Han why he reveals so much of his illegal activities to him without having any guarantee of his cooperation. Han then shows Roper the mutilated corpse of Williams, indicating clearly that Roper would face the same fate as Williams if he refuses to cooperate. Roper pretends that he will cooperate. That night, Lee successfully infiltrates the underground base and gathers sufficient evidence to warrant Han's arrest. He uses the radio transmitter to contact Braithwaite and call for backup, but unknowingly sets off the alarm. He fights with several of Han's guards during his escape but is eventually lured into a trap and captured.

The next morning, Han asks Roper to fight Lee on the competition grounds as a test of his loyalty. Roper refuses and tells Han that there are certain things he would not do. Han reassigns him to fight Bolo instead. Roper emerges victorious despite the odds. Han is infuriated by Roper's victory and he orders his men to kill both Lee and Roper. Despite being helplessly outnumbered, Lee and Roper manage to hold off the enemy for some time. Meanwhile, Mei Ling breaks into Han's underground prison and frees the captives. The captives swarm out of the prison and join in the battle on Lee and Roper's side, thus evening the odds.

During the chaos, Han attempts to sneak away but Lee spots him and follows him. Han arms himself with a claw-like implement and engages Lee in a spectacular fight. Lee proves to be superior to Han in terms of martial arts and Han flees into a hall of mirrors. Lee has difficulty locating Han due to all the confusing reflections. Recalling his Sifu's teachings, Lee smashes the mirrors to "destroy the enemy's illusions and draw out the enemy's real form". He eventually faces Han in combat and knocks Han right onto the sharp point of a spear, impaling Han and killing him. Lee returns outside and finds that Roper and the captives have managed to defeat and round up Han's surviving guards. Roper is sorry to see that Tania is one of the casualties. Lee and Roper exchange thumbs-up just as military choppers arrive in response to Lee's radio distress call.


  • Bruce Lee as Lee
  • John Saxon as Roper
  • Shih Kien as Han
  • Ahna Capri as Tania
  • Angela Mao as Su Lin
  • Jim Kelly as Williams
  • Robert Wall as O'Hara
  • Bolo Yeung as Bolo
  • Betty Chung as Mei Ling
  • Geoffrey Weeks as Braithwaite
  • Peter Archer as Parsons
  • Ho Lee Yan as The Old Man
  • Marlene Clark as Roper's Secretary
  • Allan Kent as Golfer
  • William Keller as Los Angeles Cop #1
  • Mickey Caruso as Los Angeles Cop #2
  • Pat E. Johnson as Hood #1

Box office legend

Enter the Dragon was a huge success during its original theatrical release. It grossed an estimated $25,000,000 in North America, and an estimated $90,000,000 worldwide, off a very modest $850,000 budget.

In Hong Kong, the film grossed HK$3,307,536—huge business for the time, but substantially less than Lee's Fist of Fury and Way of the Dragon.


Enter the Dragon holds a 97% rating on, with 37 reviews counted and an average rating of 7.8/10.

The film also ranks 474th in Empire magazine's 2008 list of the 500 greatest movies of all time.

On-set incidents

  • Lee was bitten by a cobra during filming of the scene in which he infiltrates Han's underground lair. Fortunately the snake had been de-venomized prior to Lee handling the snake.
  • Lee once collapsed in May 1973 during the dubbing of Enter the Dragon.
  • During the fight scene with Wall, Lee cut himself on glass bottles that were not the sugar glass props normally used in the film industry.
  • Lee's famous, running thrust kick into Wall's chest at the end of their fight scene broke Wall's sternum, and broke one arm of each of two extras, into which Wall was propelled and fell. The rest of the fight (with the glass bottles) was delayed for one month, until Wall had healed well enough to perform the choreography. The kick and fall were scripted and rehearsed, but Lee was unhappy that the kick would not look real on screen. Wall exhorted Lee, "Go for it, man. I'm a professional." The result, on the eighth take, put Wall in hospital. This incident, as well as others, helped give rise to the rumour of an on-set feud between Wall and Lee, and that this feud prompted Lee to fight him for real (see next note).
  • During the making of 'Enter the Dragon', it has been said that Lee had developed a grudge against Wall due to the cut injury he had sustained when Wall had held onto the "real glass" bottle during their fight scene (where O'Hara smashes the bottles). Wall and others deny these allegations however, stating the whole event was blown out of proportion and that it was something instigated by director Robert Clouse.

Additional information

  • It is arguably one of the most influential kung-fu films of all time, kick-starting the Kung Fu film genre in the United States and establishing Bruce Lee as a popular cultural icon.
  • In October 1973, Enter the Dragon was the number one box office film in the United States.
  • The production budget was $850,000 and the filming was completed in less than three months.
  • In 1977, Enter the Dragon was listed as one of the 20 most profitable films in the history of cinema.
  • In Empire magazine's 201 greatest movies of all time, it was ranked number 197.


  • Sammo Hung appears as the Shaolin student who spars with Lee in the opening scene.
  • Jackie Chan appears as a guard during the underground lair battle scene and gets his neck snapped by Lee.
    Jackie Chan's character gets his neck snapped by Bruce Lee
  • Roy Chiao appears as Lee's Sifu. All of his scenes were in the initial release of the Hong Kong version (and are among the few that weren't edited out of the film since) and he received on-screen credit for it. However, he is uncredited in the U.S. version, and almost all of his scenes were edited out of the initial U.S. release. Chiao's scenes were later restored in the DVD release of the U.S version in 1998.
  • The scene in which Lee states that his style was the style of "Fighting Without Fighting" and then lures Parsons into boarding a dinghy is based upon a famous anecdote involving the 16th century Samurai Tsukahara Bokuden.
  • Critics have referred to Enter the Dragon as "a low-rent James Bond thriller", a "remake of Doctor No" with elements of Fu Manchu. An aspect of this does come in when, while showing Roper around his museum, Han strokes a white cat in a manner similar to that of James Bond villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld.
  • According to Shannon Lee, who appeared on a Spike TV special, airing the film, she states there was a debate on deciding the title, as the film originally was supposed to be named "Blood and Steel" or "Han's Isle". The film was named "Enter the Dragon", as she states her father was known as "The Dragon".
  • At the beginning of Lee's fight with Han (in the courtyard, right after Han scratches him with the bear-claw), Lee counter-attacks with the same pattern (sidekick, reverse roundhouse, and jumping kick) that he used at the beginning of his fight with "Hsiao Mi" in The Big Boss.

Enter the Dragon in popular culture

  • This film was good inspiration for actor and action/martial arts superstar Jean-Claude Van Damme - when he was a kid - to become who he is today .
  • This film is parodied in The Kentucky Fried Movie as A Fistful of Yen.
  • Many of the moves performed by Bruce Lee in this film (such as his Somersault Kick) are used for the characters Marshall and Forest Law in the video game series Tekken. In Tekken 5, one of Marshall Law's selectable outfits is the same outfit that Bruce Lee wears in the climatic fight sequence in this film and the claws marks on his chest is even present.
  • Various moves and character nuances of Lee in the film are the basis for the character Maxi from Soulcalibur series.
  • The classic Beat 'Em Up series Double Dragon has many of its thugs named after characters from Enter the Dragon including Williams, Roper, Oharra, and Bolo.
  • The plot of the original Mortal Kombat video game is identical to that of Enter the Dragon.
  • Liu Kang, from the Mortal Kombat series, is based on Bruce Lee's character.
  • In rapper Andre Nickatina's album, Raven in My Eye, several songs start or end with themes from Enter The Dragon.
  • Pump It Up Zero (an arcade dance simulation video game) has a mix of the theme song of Enter the Dragon arranged by South Koreanmarker hip hop group JTL.
  • There were several references to Enter the Dragon in The Boondocks animated television show, most notably in the episode "Granddad's Fight".
  • The main theme of the film was used as an introduction to most of the songs on Jamiroquai's Dynamite era.
  • The final fight of the film between Lee and Han inspired two films: Conan the Destroyer and The Shadow.
  • An article in The Onion from March 2004 covered a similar style of tournament, this time held by Donald Rumsfeld.
  • The makers of Balls of Fury have referred to their film as "the retarded ping-pong version of Enter the Dragon".
  • The scene with the mirrors (Bruce Lee fighting Shih Kien) was a homage to the funhouse climax scene from Orson Welles' The Lady from Shanghai
  • The Ska punk band, Inner Terrestrials, covered the Enter the Dragon theme while incorporating their own anarchistic lyrics.
  • In Jackie Chan Adventures, the plot of episode "Re-Enter the J-Team" is based on Enter the Dragon.
  • Is the favourite film of the Japanese director Shinichiro Watanabe.
  • In the film The Last Dragon, the lead character (nicknamed "Bruce Leroy") is a dedicated fan of Bruce Lee.
  • In the Family Guy episode "No Chris Left Behind", Ernie the chicken crashes through a window and gets cut in the stomach. He wipes the cut with his finger, and then licks it—a homage to Lee's confrontation with Han at the end of Enter the Dragon.
  • The legendary rapper Kool G Rap wrote a song entitled "Enter The Dragon."
  • In Street Fighter II V one of the costumes for Fei Long resembles Lee's sparring outfit in the film, complete with the same claw scars.
  • In the Dead or Alive game series, Jann Lee uses the fighting style: Jeet Kun Do.
  • In the Virtua Fighter game series, Jacky Bryant uses the fighting style: Jeet Kune Do.
  • The film is also frequently shown on G4TV as part of their "Movies That Don't Suck" feature film.
  • The main theme of the film was used as the background music for the "Honeycomb Maze" challenge on the Japanese game show Takeshi's Castlemarker.
  • The online game Dragon Fist 3: Age of the Warrior features many characters from martial arts movies with the actor animated, and one of them is Mr. Lee (Lee's character) from this film.
  • Kenshiro from Fist of the North Star is based on Bruce Lee's character.


In August 2007, Warner Independent Pictures announced that television producer Kurt Sutter would be remaking the film as a noir-style thriller entitled Awaken the Dragon.

According to Latino Review Korean singer-actor Rain is rumoured to star in the movie.

DVD releases

Warner Brothers
  • Released: July 1, 1998
  • Aspect Ratio: Widescreen (2.35:1) anamorphic
  • Sound: English (5.1), French (5.1), Spanish (5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
  • Supplements: Introduction and interview with Linda Lee Caldwell; Commentary by Paul Heller and Michael Allin; Location: Hong Kong with Enter the Dragon documentary; Bruce Lee: In His Own Words documentary; Backyard Workout documentary; Trailers and TV spots; Production notes
  • Region 1

Warner Brothers
  • Released: May 18, 2004
  • Aspect Ratio: Widescreen (2.35:1) anamorphic
  • Sound: English (5.1), English (1.0)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
  • Supplements: Commentary by Paul Heller and Michael Allin; Location: Hong Kong with Enter the Dragon documentary; Bruce Lee: In His Own Words documentary; Backyard Workout documentary; Blood and Steel documentary; Bruce Lee: A Warrior's Journey documentary; Bruce Lee: Curse of the Dragon documentary; Trailers and TV spots
  • Region 1, NTSC

Universe (Hong Kong)
  • Aspect Ratio: Widescreen (2.35:1) letterboxed
  • Sound: Cantonese (5.1), Madarin (5.1)
  • Subtitles: Traditional, Simplified Chinese, English, Japanese, Indonesian, Malaysian, Thai, Korean, Vietnamese
  • Supplements: Stars' Files, Trailer for the film and Trailer for The Big Boss, Way of the Dragon, Game of Death and Legacy of Rage
  • All regions, NTSC

Fortune Star - Bruce Lee Ultimate DVD Collection (Hong Kong)
  • Released: April 29, 2004
  • Aspect Ratio: Widescreen (2.35:1) anamorphic
  • Sound: Cantonese (DTS 5.1), Cantonese (Dolby Digital 5.1), Cantonese (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), Mandarin (DTS 5.1), Mandarin (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: Traditional, Simplified Chinese, English
  • Supplements: Original trailer, New trailer, Still photos, Slideshow of the photos, Celebrity interviews, Alternate opening credits, Unseen footage, Game of Death NG Shots, 32-page booklet
  • Region 3, NTSC

HD DVD release

Warner Brothers
  • Released: July 11, 2006
  • Aspect Ratio: Widescreen 2:40:1
  • Sound: English (5.1), French (1.0), Spanish
  • Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
  • Supplements: Interview with Linda Lee Caldwell, The Making of ENTER THE DRAGON, A Warrior's Journey, The Curse of the Dragon, Bruce Lee: In His Own Words, Hong Kong with ENTER THE DRAGON, Backyard Workout with Bruce, Theatrical Trailer, and TV Spots
  • Region free

Blu-ray Disc release

Warner Brothers
  • Released: April 17, 2007
  • Aspect Ratio: Widescreen 2:40:1
  • Sound: English (5.1), French (1.0), Spanish
  • Subtitles: English SDH, English, French, Spanish
  • Supplements: Interview with Linda Lee Caldwell, The Making of ENTER THE DRAGON, A Warrior's Journey, The Curse of the Dragon, Bruce Lee: In His Own Words, Hong Kong with ENTER THE DRAGON, Backyard Workout with Bruce, Theatrical Trailer, and TV Spots (Special features are the same as the HD-DVD Release)
  • All regions

Kam & Ronson (Hong Kong)
  • Released: October 15, 2009
  • Aspect Ratio: Widescreen 2:35:1
  • Sound: Cantonese (DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1), Cantonese (Dolby True HD 7.1), Mandarin (Dolby Digital EX 6.1), Thai (Dolby Digital EX 6.1)
  • Subtitles: Traditional Chinese, English, Thai
  • Region A

See also


  2. Undated Interview with Bob Wall
  3. The Fourth Virgin Film Guide by James Pallot and the editors of CineBooks, published by Virgin Books, 1995
  4. Hong Kong Action Cinema by Bey Logan, published by Titan Books, 1995
  5. Rumsfeld Hosts No-Holds-Barred Martial Arts Tournament At Remote Island Fortress | The Onion - America's Finest News Source
  6. YESASIA: Enter The Dragon (Blu-ray) (Hong Kong Version)

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