Sunday, August 29, 2010

McBone Mini-Reviews; The McBone Week in Movies

Enter the Dragon (1973): I'm not going to say this is the one that started it all, not with decades of westerns, spy, gangster and kung fu flicks behind it.  Nor will I call it the end all, be all of its genre.  There have simply been too many great subsequent films.  Still, Enter the Dragon certainly helped transform our perceptions about martial arts movies.  No longer did we have to see them as grainy-looking imports.  Now they could operate on a big budget and be produced by American studios.  This is not to say American acceptance legitimized what the Asians had been doing perfectly well all along.  Rather it opened a broader market in the west, especially among fans who already liked spaghetti westerns, Bond movies and the like.

So, how does it rate as a movie?  E the D is nothing short of a masterpiece.  A Shaolin monk (Bruce Lee) is recruited by British intelligence to infiltrate the island of renegade monk, Han, who operates a heroin/prostitution ring.  Lee reluctantly accepts, but finds his own motivation when he learns that his sister was killed by some of Han's men (cue requisite revenge narrative).  His ticket to the island comes in the form of an invitation to Han's martial arts tournament, really a means for Han to import new talent to his crime empire.  Along the way, Lee meets fellow participants Roper (John Saxon, sporting a toupee for the ages) and Williams (Jim Kelly), ass kickers with hearts of gold.  Together they take on Han and his minions.

All right, so the acting is hammy, the dubbing is the worst since The Good the Bad and the Ugly and there is a definite pervasive camp factor.  None of that is bad.  All of it works.  And throughout, we have Bruce Lee, who performs an explosive two hour ballet in his rise to superstardom.  In a movie with much to recommend it, he is the gravitational center.  From his physique to his facial expressions to his epic battle against the island guard, you simply cannot take your eyes off of him.  Credit director Robert Clouse for pointing the camera at his star and letting it roll.  That Lee died before the film's release remains one of the great damnable shames in cinematic history.

I've watched E the D 20 times in my life at least.  It keeps getting better.  Official McBone Rating: 4.5 McBones (loses a half point for killing off the cool black character first).  Enter the Dragon is a certified McBone Must-See

Also seen

Cashback (2006): A young artist breaks up with his girlfriend and suddenly can't sleep...until he finds a shiny new girlfriend.  Along the way we learn of his obsession with the female form.  Oh, and he has the ability to stop time. If you're thinking that doesn't sound like much of a plot, I'm with you. There are some truly poetic moments in this movie, and some nice comedic touches.  Overall, Cashback is little more than a male fantasy and a thinly veiled excuse to denude women on screen, stop time and ogle.  2.5 McBones.


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