The APAHM Project Day 31: Enter the Dragon
Film: Enter the Dragon
Director: Robert Clouse
Where to watch: Available to rent or buy on all major platforms
Why it made the list:
At my family’s request, I have included one of the late Bruce Lee’s best and most notable works “Enter The Dragon.” Lee was a cultural icon and martial arts master who is credited for helping bridge the East and West.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen Bruce Lee’s work. I knew of him, my uncles often quoted his films and would horse around by ”performing” kung fu.
”Enter the Dragon” is credited as being the best martial arts movie of all time, particularly because it included White, Black, and Asian martial artists and helped popularize the genres of Blaxploitation and Martial Arts films. The plot is that of a James Bond movie, Lee must go undercover to find a criminal responsible for drug trafficking and prostitution. Besides this plot point and a flashback of Lee’s sister being murdered in order to give him a motive, there isn’t too much of a plot. The film is entirely built upon fight sequences and action.
But let’s go back for a moment about this film including White, Black, and Asian actors. This was done to help reach a wider audience. However when John Saxon, a white actor, was casted, his agents demanded his character not be killed. So they changed the script so that Williams, played by black actor Jim Kelly died instead. Williams is introduced at a dojo and later harassed by cops. Why, I’m not really sure, but at the same time we all know why. They pat him down, find a plane ticket for Hong Kong, and say that he isn’t going. Williams then uses his martial arts to escape.
Doesn’t this feel a little too real and relevant today? As I sit here at the end of celebrating one culture, I mourn for another. My platform isn’t very big, but someone somewhere is reading this. Jeubilant Productions’ mission states “Jeubilant Productions exists to create, produce, and distribute content and media that helps uplift the creative mind and inspire change while encouraging diversity and representation.” Inspire change....this was intended to be through film and art. But here I am using my voice. We cannot be silent, we cannot accept this injustice that the Black community is facing today. We as humans must band together to help in their fight, no matter what our background is. Peaceful protests, petitions, calling government leaders to take action, monetary donations are all ways you can help. I’m not going to pretend I know any of the history, but I am taking steps to educate myself on how I can help. Asian Americans are known to have been allies of the black community during the Civil Rights movement. They helped paved the way for us to earn freedoms too. This is not about returning favors, this is about humanity. We as Asians hold a certain amount of privilege. For one, we do not have to live in constant fear because of our skin color most of the time. Asians are sometimes seen as being white-adjacent and non-threatening. Our stereotypes include being good at math, being a model minority, and things like Kung Fu and broken accents. Yes, we also face racial issues, but we will never know what it is like to be Black in America. Whether you are Asian, white, Hispanic, Black, use whatever ounce of privilege you have to be anti-racist and inspire change.
Does it deserve to stay on this list?
There is something about these films and their timing to the real world. This film is cultural phenomenon, inspiring things such as Dragon Ball anime and Street Fighter video games. But the conversation that it inspired today outweighs anything else.