Tag Archive: Enter the Dragon


Review by C.J. Bunce

From Hong Kong to the U.S. and Australia to Uganda, Australian director Serge Ou and writer Grady Hendrix track the scope of the Hong Kong kung fu movie industry and its pop culture influence on the world in the documentary Iron Fists and Kung Fu Kicks, now streaming this month on Netflix.  Splicing interviews with kung fu legends of the past with new discussions with martial artists and actors influenced by them, Ou offers up a surprisingly rich look at how and why kung fu movies gained an international following that continues to this day via Jackie Chan comedies, the Matrix movies (with a sequel due in theaters next year), and new television series like Wu Assassins and Iron Fist. 

Beneath what is in essence an overview of the genre is a smart mixture of social and cultural commentary on a global phenomenon centered on an artform mixing athleticism, dance, and grace.  Kung fu made its way to American audiences with Tom Laughlin in Billy Jack, and into millions of homes via the Kung Fu series.  This was paralleled by Bruce Lee movies and lesser films (they call them Bruce-sploitation) from China and U.S. studios, direct-to-video crotch-kicking and “squirrel-grabbing” action on VHS tapes in video stores, heroines leading the way as a sub-genre, eventually moving to black and inner city audiences embracing the culture, starting with martial artist and actor Jim Kelly (who co-starred with Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon), re-emerging later as an influence on hip hop music.  The genre got even bigger boosts with Jackie Chan heavy-stunt comedies, followed by The Matrix and the Academy Awards arrival of the genre with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.  Chinese co-productions with other nations, and actors of Chinese background in the mainstream outside of Asia would eventually come along.

Viewers meet (or revisit) early kung fu icons Cheng Pei-Pei and Sammo Hung in new interviews, along with Billy Banks, who would turn the genre into his own fortune via the creation of the Tae Bo workout, early American female kung fu star Cynthia Rothrock, martial artist Richard Norton, plus from the 21st century shows, Iron Fist actor Jessica Henwick, Wu Assassins actor JuJu Chan, Doctor Strange actor Scott Adkins, and Marvel stuntwoman and choreographer Amy Johnston, among others.  It’s all interspersed with great action sequences and other clips from more than 100 films.  A theme underscoring much of kung fu movie history is a distinct lack of safety standards, with more than one participant in the documentary stressing that Hong Kong kung fu movies couldn’t be made anywhere else for that reason.

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Van Damme splits trucks

If you’re a fan of early Jean-Claude Van Damme action movies then you will love this new ad from Volvo Trucks.  It’s probably the best idea anyone has had to thrust back into the spotlight an actor/martial artist who once was on the heels of becoming the next Stallone or Schwarzenegger.  Expendables 2 wasn’t enough to do it, but showing off on TVs across America the physical skill and the result of a lifetime of martial arts prowess that Van Damme used in early work like Bloodsport could be enough to get him back into big movie roles.  Van Damme just needs to find his version of Mickey Rourke’s big comeback film The Wrestler.

If you haven’t watched Van Damme movies, you’re missing out.  First, add Bloodsport and Timecop into your Netflix queue.  Some may say it is blasphemous to compare Van Damme to Bruce Lee, but if you liked Enter the Dragon you will at a minimum appreciate Van Damme’s style, passion and effort in Bloodsport.  Like Schwarzenegger, Van Damme had the European immigrant with an accent action star shtick going for him.  He had proven fighting skill outside of movies, too.  And he had a real appeal–usually playing the underdog or defending the underdog, he usually had the good guy role in his best work.

Van Damme splits in Timecop

More splits. Could you save yourself if your kitchen floor was suddenly charged with electricity? Van Damme could, and did, in Timecop.

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100 Film Warner Bros banner

Not long ago the idea of having all your favorite movies available for viewing instantly was as far out there as hover cars.  With streaming options like Netflix you can have access to thousands of movies and TV series in a flash, only limited by the speed and quality of your own home access and viewing technology.  But just like online news will never replace the physical daily newspaper, streaming will never replace the home video library.

Back in early December we previewed here at borg.com four movie collections as gift ideas of varying price ranges, from the three-film The Dark Knight Trilogy from Warner Bros. to the eight-film Tarantino XX 8-Film Collection from Lionsgate Miramax to the 15-film Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection from Universal Studios to the massive 22-film Bond 50: The Complete 22 Film Collection from MGM.

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