Movie Review: Enter the Dragon (1973)

Title: Enter the Dragon
Release Date:19 August 1973
Director: Robert Clouse
Production Company: Concord Production Inc.

My style? You can call it the art of fighting without fighting.

I’ve made it nearly to the age of 49 without watching a Bruce Lee movie, so I decided to address.  The thing is, when I was younger I was turned off by the violence of martial arts movies, but I guess I’ve reached an age where I can appreciate people balletically punching and kicking one another.

Bruce Lee stars as Lee, a martial artist who instructs at the Shaolin Temple.  He’s recruited by an intelligence agency to investigate a crime lord and renegade Shaolin monk named Han (Shih Kien) under the cover of participating in a martial arts contest on Han’s private island. As additional motivation, Lee is informed that Han’s bodyguard O’Hara (Bob Wall) killed his sister.  Other contestants include the Black American dojo leader Williams (Jim Kelly) and the white American Roper (John Saxon) who has a compulsive gambling problem.

The movie combines Hong Kong martial arts film with James Bond style espionage and Blackploitation (reflected in the banging soundtrack).  It’s utterly ludicrous but in a way I found delightful.  The main flaw with the movie is that I think that they did Jim Kelly dirty.  But otherwise the fight choreography, direction, and humorous bits are all great.  And for a villain, you have to admire Han’s flair in his underground lair’s interior design.  Incorporating a guillotine-vator and a hall of mirrors reflects a certain sense of style!

Rating: ****1/2

Movie Review: The Hudsucker Proxy (1994)

Title: The Hudsucker Proxy
Release Date: March 11, 1994
Director: Joel Coen
Production Company:Tim Robbins, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Paul Newman

In 1958, the founder and president of Hudsucker Industries (Charles Durning) leaps to his death. The company director Sidney J. Mussburger (Paul Newman) determines that the company needs to drive down the price of Hudsucker stock so that the board can acquire controlling shares at a low price.  To achieve this he appoints Norville Barnes (Tim Robbins), a rube fresh from earning an undergraduate business degree in Indiana, as the new President.  Naturally, Norville comes up with an idea that actually makes the company more successful.  Amy Archer (Jennifer Jason Leigh), a fast-talking newspaper reporter, works undercover for Norville to get a story about him, but ends up falling in love.

The movie is very much the Coen Brothers pastiche on comedies of Hollywood’s Golden Age, particularly ones with quick-witted exchanges in mid-Atlantic accents directed by Frank Capra or Preston Sturges.  It also has plot similarities to The Producers and has moments inspired by Citizen Kane and Playtime.  But for all that, it is still very much the Coen’s movie.  The atmosphere of this movie is great, kind of a snow globe vision of mid-century Manhattan with some terrific sets.  And the humor is sharp and satirical.

I first watched this movie 25 years ago and really liked and happy to say that it all holds up very well.

Rating: ***1/2