Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Enter the Dragon -- seen for the first time.

Tuesday Evening,  I watched, in entirety, Bruce Lee's Enter the Dragon, for the first time in my life.  I had seen scenes from it before, and  I was familiar with all the cliches of Bruce Lee, so I somehow assumed I had seen all his films.
But really, how could it be that I hadn't watched a Bruce Lee film till yesterday?  I could day that some films become so big, you don't have to see them to know what they are about.  Bruce Lee films are like Gone with the Wind, American Pie, and Saturday Night Fever, in that manner.  But as I have always said, a movie you haven't seen is a new movie to watch.  Having actually seen Gone with the Wind, and Saturday Night Fever;  and seeing that they were splendid entertainments, I have become open to taking the time to watch other movies that I have known, but not seen.
I didn't actually plan to watch Enter the Dragon when I got up Tuesday morning.  What happened was that Jenny and I went to eat, and do some grocery shopping in downtown Yanqiao (Tony being at preschool).  Being so far from downtown Wuxi, it is hard to find a DVD shop, and the shops you can find in the suburb certainly aren't laowai-friendly, having mostly Chinese fare and very few new releases.  We went to Yanqiao on our electric bike.**  At the supermarket, Jenny told me to drive the bike from the back entrance to the front entrance where she would pay for our purchases and wait for me -- near the front entrance was a toddler shop she wanted to check out. To get the bike from the front to back entrance, I had to ride through a street full of shops, including a DVD shop.  Through its' entrance, I saw a small selection of those tall-packed DVDs -- the tall packs often contain nine or ten movies on one or two discs -- you lose picture quality at the expense of many more hours of entertainment than a one movie DVD can give you.  Anyway, the tall packs drew me into the shop.  Flipping through the DVDs there, I found some interesting collections of horror and science fiction movies -- there were also collections of famous stars like Arnold and Tom Cruise and the Transporter guy.  And of course, I found a Bruce Lee collection of many of his movies (how many did he make - three?) and documentaries.  The two DVD set with 14 movies and shows cost me ten rmb --  very good price, but I was worried that there would be no English -- I had to go home to check immediately.
It turned out that the DVDs have only Chinese audio, but there are English subtitles.  So I watched Enter the Dragon in Chinese with English subtitles -- as ETD was an action film, it really it didn't make any difference.  (I also watched half a documentary as well which featured scenes from Bruce Lee's funeral -- images of his widow looking at his open-casket and immediately losing her composure, were heart-wrenching.)
For what my belated opinion is worth, the movie is great.  Bruce Lee has a screen presence comparable to Clark Gable, Fred Astaire, and Steve McQueen.  He shares a screen intensity with McQueen and a choreographic grace of Astaire.  ETD economically shows Lee's great Kung Fu talent, saving its' best Lee scenes for the last twenty minutes.***
There was a scene in the beginning of the film that showed what has always fascinated me about China -- a woman is running away from a gang of assailants and so she runs through a shanty sort of neighborhood -- the kind that I love to traipse through everyday, even in dull Wuxi. 
Bruce Lee has rejuvenated my interest in the Orient, if somehow belatedly.  Tony and Jenny permitting, I will watch the other movies on that DVD.
**For the first time, I drove the bike with Jenny as the passenger.  Hitherto, I had let her do the driving while I was the passenger.  My first attempts at driving Tony and Jenny on the bike scared the hell out of me.  Yesterday, not having Tony as a passenger, I shed my fears.  Jenny was so pleased with me.
***Tony watched the end of ETD with me.  He found some of the Kung Fu movies quite amusing.

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