Enter The Dragon remake? Bruce Lee must be spinning in his grave – leave the kung fu icon’s martial arts masterpiece alone

Plans to recreate 1973 martial arts classic are in the works, with Deadpool’s David Leitch behind the project, but fans of late superstar are not happy

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 July, 2018, 7:27pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 28 July, 2018, 1:08pm

Bruce Lee must be spinning in his grave. Within days of the 45th anniversary of his untimely death, Deadpool 2 director David Leitch said he was in early talks to remake the martial art superstar’s most famous film Enter The Dragon.

Leitch said he was also considering getting behind the camera himself to spin the 1973 tale again.

For those who are too young to remember or weren’t even born when Enter The Dragon entered the public consciousness, it was the movie that catapulted Lee to world fame after a string of record-breaking movies that captured the imagination of Hong Kong and most of Asia.

Originally directed by Robert Clouse, Enter The Dragon is considered the creme de la creme of all martial arts movies, boosted by a Hollywood budget, a worldwide distributor (Warner Brothers) and released within days of Lee’s unfortunate death.

Making remakes of classic movies is all very fine. Some turned out better than others. Tomb Raider (Alicia Vikander) was a sleeker version of Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (sorry, Angelie Jolie fans). The new version of Total Recall (Colin Farrell) missed its mark and was nowhere near as fun as Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 1990 version. Have you seen the new Death Wish movie, starring Bruce Willis? Lousy, right? I much preferred Charles Bronson’s 1974 original.

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Leitch has had considerable success with his John Wick and the cartoonish Deadpool 2 movies but many have questioned whether he should direct a movie classic such as Dragon.

And if the movie had to be recreated, there is also a feeling among many that an Asian moviemaker should be lined up for the project.

The thought of Enter The Dragon being rehashed has already been criticised by Asian Americans and Bruce Lee fans with Hong Kong’s own Daniel Wu condemning such a move.

“That is one movie that should not be touched because it wasn’t about the story, it was Bruce Lee’s incredible charisma, which cannot be replicated,” said Wu, star of Into the Badlands and Tomb Raider.

“Totally agree!” Daniel Dae Kim, the Korean American TV star of Lost and Hawaii Five-O, chimed in.

If Leitch takes the reins and decides to do a remake of Lee’s masterpiece, who is going to play Lee, the main character who enters a martial arts tournament on an island owned by a suspected crime lord named Han?

There are no young martial arts stars that I know of who could reprise the role that Lee’s incredible talent, charisma and showmanship defined 45 years ago.

Jason Scott Lee’s portrayal of Bruce Lee in Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, was spot on and he would be perfect for the role if only the remake was made 25 years ago.

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Jason is 51 now – and you can forget about the current crop of martial artists, who are either also too old or in no way carry the same screen presence and dynamism of Bruce Lee.

Aside from Lee’s character, who could step into Jim Kelly [Williams] shoes? Michael Jai White? Possibly. Bolo Yeung, the big, muscular villain could be played by his son David Yeung; Jackie Chan could make a cameo and reprise his role as one of the thugs in the movie.

But then again, who could play the evil and treacherous Han, who was brilliantly portrayed by the great Shih Kien, one of Hong Kong’s most iconic “baddie” movie stars.

Amazingly Shih Kien was almost 60 when he went toe-to-toe with Lee, the iconic hall of mirrors being the climax of the movie that still amazes movie audiences today.

So what new elements could Leitch bring to the table if movie studios decide on a remake? Enter The Dragon is already perfect in many forms. In fact, it’s irreplaceable and certain scenes just couldn’t be replicated because – now get this – they were real.

As any astute Bruce Lee fan would know, Lee really kicked his student, Robert Wall, in one of the fighting scenes.

Furious that Wall had used a real jagged bottle that caught Lee’s hand requiring medical treatment in an earlier scene, Lee took out his anger on Wall.

In one of the most iconic kicking scenes ever filmed, Lee does his famous run-up before slamming Wall so hard that the fellow behind Wall broke both his arms on impact.

There’s also the scene with the Cobra snake with the action star ending up taking a bite to the hand, but fortunately the snake’s venom had been drained.

Lee choreographed all the fighting sequences himself; nobody could do it better than the superstar himself.

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Some classics should be left alone because they are what they are – classics – and Enter The Dragon has a place in that pantheon, from the fighting scenes to Lalo Schifrin’s masterful movie soundtrack.

Enter The Dragon should be left in the vault, where it belongs, because making a remake of a classic that doesn’t need a reboot is a kick in the groin for Bruce Lee fans.