Asian martial art films were being produced and were popular in Asia long before Enter The Dragon appeared. But this movie set the standard for the genre, and opened the door for a host of real martial artists who became movie stars in their own right due to the warrior spirit and presence of Enter The Dragon’s charismatic star Bruce Lee. This film will always remain THE icon for the Martial Arts Film genre.
Prior to Enter The Dragon, martial arts films were haphazardly produced, with fight scenes that were poorly staged, and looking like a televised wrestling match. Enter The Dragon pioneered new filming techniques for fight scenes, and offered movie goers martial arts confrontations choreographed by Lee that displayed the power, ferocity and simplistic beauty of his martial art…Jeet Kune Do.
Even the script contained Jeet Kune Do theory. The quote from the “Master teaching Student” scene with Mr. Lee and a student expresses one of the pillars of Jeet Kune Do thought. “It is like a finger pointing away to the moon, if you concentrate on the finger you will miss all that heavenly glory.”
This means that if a martial arts student blindly follows his instructor, the student will miss on ALL of the glory that the student can achieve from looking at the goal (the opponent). A fighter must flow when in battle, “Don’t think, feel!!” is another Jeet Kune Do principle expressed in the scene. This means that a fighter should not think about what they are going to do, but to just do it, express it, execute. Lee fostered the idea that mans strongest weapon is his ability to create, and this was so with fighting. Lee felt that his style was to be “shapeless, formless,” contrary to the rigid traditionalism of martial arts masters before him. And, he took techniques from many fighting styles from all over the world to make up his fighting theory.
The story line to Enter The Dragon may have been simple, and by today’s standards even crude, but it provided movie goers with the best martial arts ever portrayed on film. Although there have been many martial arts films since “Enter The Dragon,” I hold this movie as my favorite of all time. I can only imagine what level Bruce Lee could’ve taken the martial art film genre and his fighting style Jeet Kune Do had he lived to appreciate his work.