Sunday, June 6, 2010

Exit The Dragon, Enter The Tiger - 2.5/5

Should I feel ashamed that "Exit the Dragon, Enter the Tiger" is one of my all time favorite guilty pleasure films? If I were a relative of Bruce Lee I would be appalled by this shameless cash-in on his death but thankfully I'm not and I can enjoy this cash-in for being one of the most entertaining B-martial arts films ever made.

The plot is extremely strange and literally uses many elements of Bruce Lee's real death for story devices. The film opens with actor Bruce Li visiting Bruce Lee (also played by Bruce Li) on the set of making "Enter the Dragon." Bruce Lee tells Li that he is his true successor and that he has been receiving strange phone calls. Lee than says, get this, "If I Die, find out why." Seriously I am not making this shit up! We are then given a collage of newspaper clippings of Lee's death and in the films most tacky move actually uses real footage of Lee's funeral. Li, appalled by the death of Lee, is bound determined to find out what really killed him and finds out that Bruce was being blackmailed by a drug lord to smuggle drugs. When Lee refused, he was murdered. I say again I am not making this shit up! Lee then single handedly takes on the drug cartel and fight after fight ensues.

Only in Hong Kong would such a disrespectful film get made but I can't help it.... I had a hell of a fun time with its tacky story. The plot is ridiculous and the dialogue is full of hilariously dubbed dialogue. Here is an example "There was a dragon. And here is a tiger. And we know that tigers don't travel alone. We're not afraid of the jungle." Bruce Li again impresses me with his martial arts ability and the film is filled with his talent. I do find it funny how Li is always lured away from urban areas into junk yards or abandoned factories for his major fights. The directing for the most part isn't that bad (compared to the dialogue) and director Tso Nam Lee gets some great shots, especially at the end of the film with a climatic fight on a shoreline with waves splashing over our hero and antagonist. I also enjoyed the urban, 70's environment (with a funky 70's score no less) as opposed to being a period piece like most other Bruceploitation flicks at the time.

Sadly "Exit the Dragon, Enter the Tiger" will never get respect as a good martial arts film mostly due to the fact the plot disrespects and insults the good name of Bruce Lee. Beyond that I had an great time with the solid fight sequences, bad dialogue, cheesy 70's villains and setting. Fans of martial arts B-movies should have a great time as long as they didn't know real Bruce Lee personally. This is Bruceploitation and its most shameless and most entertaining. Followed by "Return of the Tiger."

Bonus Rant: Like every other Bruceploitation film ever made, Exit the Dragon gets another poor DVD release. The picture ratio was all fucked up on the release I have from Trinity Home Entertainment. The film is letterboxed but everyone is stretched out in full screen mode and everyone is fat when I turned my TV to anamorphic widescreen. Thankfully my techwiz friend Bill comes to my rescue yet again and was able to fix it. It seems that the menu and the video file were both encoded to be 16:9 anamorphic widescreen, but the info bits on the DVD flagged them both as 4:3. Mistakes like this on DVDs just piss me off. Don't DVD companies have any quality control anymore?!

Written By Eric Reifschneider

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