Enter The Dragon (1973) Blind Spot Review

Enter The Dragon (1973) (龍爭虎鬥, 龙争虎斗, Lóng Zhēng Hǔ Dòu)

Directed by Robert Clouse

Starring: Bruce Lee, John Saxon, Ahna Capri, Bob Wall, Shih Kien, Jim Kelly

Music by Lalo Schifrin

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A martial artist agrees to spy on a reclusive crime lord using his invitation to a tournament there as cover.

My Opinion:

These are the 2018 Blind Spot films I’ve watched so far, from my least favorite to favorite:

6. Atonement
5. Gleaming The Cube
4. The French Connection
3. Citizen Kane
2. Metropolis
1. Enter The Dragon

Yeah, I loved Enter The Dragon. It’s the first & only Bruce Lee movie I’ve seen & I’m thinking it’s possibly the only martial arts movie I’ve seen. Unless Rush Hour counts?! (I don’t remember a thing about that). By the way, Jackie Chan is actually in this movie although I can’t admit that I noticed him. From Wikipedia: “Jackie Chan appears as a guard during the underground lair battle scene and gets his neck snapped by Lee. He also performed several stunts for the film, including the scene where Lee’s character quickly climbs a rooftop at night. However, Yuen Wah was Lee’s main stunt double for the film.”

I did watch Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story many years ago as I was interested in the story of Lee’s tragically short life. I probably watched it just after The Crow & son Brandon Lee’s tragic death, who was also way too young. I love The Crow. Damn. I want there to be more movies starring each of them. I’ll certainly explore Bruce Lee’s other films now.

First of all: Bruce Lee is super cool in this. Okay, I get the appeal even though I’m a girl (but I prefer a movie like this to the really girly chick flicks). However, it’s the trio that I really loved in this film: Bruce Lee, John Saxon & Jim Kelly. I knew I had to finally watch this movie just as much for Saxon as for Lee. Saxon has been in 196 things according to his IMDb page. 196, for crying out loud!! He’s a cult hero. And I seriously don’t think I’ve seen him as anything other than Nancy’s dad in A Nightmare On Elm Street. But after finally watching Enter The Dragon, I think I can safely say I’ve probably now seen his absolute best films. And he was far cooler than I was expecting in this film. I didn’t know he could kick ass for real! I read this at Wikipedia too: “John Saxon is a black belt in Judo and Shotokan Karate, who studied under grandmaster Hidetaka Nishiyama for three years.” But he certainly wasn’t as cool as Jim Kelly. Who IS this guy?! He’s GROOVY. Well, he was – I see he died in 2013. It looks like he was only in 16 films? Damn. He should’ve been a big star (but perhaps he was within this genre – I obviously have very little experience with martial arts films!). Anyway, he kicked ass for real too – he was a karate world champion.


So, yes, these three characters very much help to make this film the absolute classic that it is. But I also really enjoyed the story, though it’s quite simple. And the backstory with the sister, though it’s quite sad. And the main baddie, though I suppose he’s a pretty cliché baddie. This movie follows the most basic storytelling rules but, well, that’s because that’s what works. Those are the stories that are the most enjoyable. Give me the hero’s journey and the obvious good guys versus bad guys. I love that. And toward the start of this film, we see these three dudes in separate boats coming together to join up & go to the “Island of bad men and hot women”. Their backstories are told as they’re in their boats and this was very effective. I liked it a lot. Can we get back to making movies more like this?? I know the story isn’t one that would change the world now but it was damn good fun.


Finally, I better mention the most iconic scene from this film as these sort of scenes are what truly make Lee’s films such cult classics (right??). There are loads of great moments & fights in this but the “hall of mirrors” fight is the best. It’s brilliant. John Wick: Chapter 2 recently paid tribute to this scene (as have countless other films, I’m sure – it’s a very famous scene). Oh! And I’ve not even mentioned the great funky score from Lalo Schifrin! Man I love the music in 70’s films. And that’s exactly what this movie is: It’s so “Seventies” it hurts. I mean that in a good way! This is another big reason (maybe the biggest reason) why I enjoyed this film so much. I love that funky decade. The world is completely lacking in funk & grooviness nowadays, man! 2018 is shit. I want to live in the Seventies. Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed Enter The Dragon. I want to check out more Bruce Lee stuff now but know that this very Seventies part-American English-language martial arts film may not be much like the others. Funky old martial arts movies are probably going to be more my sort of thing.

My Rating: 8.5/10

The Conjuring (2013) Review

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The Conjuring

Directed by James Wan

Starring:
Vera Farmiga
Patrick Wilson
Ron Livingston
Lili Taylor

Running time: 112 minutes

Plot Synopsis:

This “based on a true story” movie follows paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (played by Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson) as they investigate mysterious supernatural occurrences at the home of the Perron family (parents played by Ron Livingston and Lili Taylor).

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My Opinion:

I really enjoyed this film. I rarely watch horror movies anymore as they seem to have turned into nothing but the torture porn variety that I can’t stand. Give me either a good old fashioned 70s & 80s slasher with cheesy special effects I can actually handle or a creepy old-school supernatural thriller. The Conjuring, I’m happy to say, comes pretty close to feeling like a genuine 70s supernatural thriller.

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The Conjuring opens with the Warrens showing us a previous case they worked on where a doll had become possessed. Dolls freak me out. Dolls freak a lot of people out and the makers of The Conjuring clearly know this. They take as many horror movie cliches as they can and throw them all at us. But all horror movies do this anyway. The Conjuring at least manages to use every trick in the book in a few fairly original & effective ways. (To be honest, the doll was too over-the-top freaky. The music box was more subtle & far creepier… )

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The Conjuring takes place in the 70s, which helps add to the overall creepiness. I’m a sucker for 70s films so that will have helped my enjoyment of this.The clothes! The cars! The 70s were so groovy! (From what I remember of the decade as I spent the latter part of it watching Sesame Street). So I really liked the look of the film. It’s no The Shining as far as the look and feel go (can anything really beat that one?!). But I appreciate the effort they put into making this feel more like a good old-school haunted house movie.

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Did The Conjuring scare me? I know that’s the main question people seem to be asking. Well, I can’t really think of a movie that ever HAS scared me. There are some that give me the heebie jeebies a little bit. The one I just mentioned, The Shining, is probably the film I find the creepiest and comes the closest to “scaring” me. The Conjuring didn’t scare me, no, but had I seen it for the first time alone & in the middle of the night, I’m pretty sure I’d have slept with the lights on.

It’s fairly intense and that tired old “based on a true story” thing DOES seep into your brain whether you believe it or not – that’s why so many horror movies use that line. (I’ve not yet looked into the true story of the Warrens & Perron family so can’t comment on how true this film actually is). I was a little bit jumpy through the film but, as always, you know when the scares are coming. The film also shows us more of the “ghostly visitors” than I was expecting but I know they need to keep things balanced as the younger cinema goers expect that these days. I’ve always been someone who’s been more scared by the things we don’t actually see. However, I think The Conjuring strikes a decent balance at trying to keep the old-school supernatural horror fans like me and the current generation of fans happy.

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The number one reason that I think makes this film stand out so much compared to other horror films of recent years, though, is this: The acting (particularly the two female leads). Too many current horror films are full of either horrible acting or completely unlikeable characters. I don’t want to watch a movie with either of these things – I don’t think the rules should be any different for the horror genre. Lili Taylor was the best thing about this film for me. She was genuinely believable as a loving mother who just wants to protect her five daughters. I know she’s been in plenty of things in more recent years but not much that I’ve seen so it was great seeing her in a big role in this – I’ve always especially loved her part in Say Anything. Vera Farmiga is also great in this although I kind of feel I’ve seen her play a similar role before. The bond the two woman share as they both have daughters was very good. The men are fine but really take a backseat to all the females in the film (Ron Livingston especially seems to have very little to do). Being a woman, I really liked seeing a film with such strong female leads. Even all six daughters in this film do an excellent job, which is great as there has been some especially bad child-acting in horror films.

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Summary:

The Conjuring uses every trick in the book to scare us but at least uses those tricks in some fairly original & effective ways. The film has a good look & feel which will keep fans of old fashioned horror films happy but I think should also please a younger generation of fans who want something other than torture porn. But the thing that makes the film stand out the most in its genre is some great performances, especially those of the strong female leads. This film feels like a more grown-up horror film and will hopefully pave the way for similar films in this genre. I don’t think it’s the best “haunted house” film I’ve seen but it’s a refreshing return to an old formula that’s a step in the right direction in a generation now filled with some mind-numbingly bad and excessively gory so-called horror films.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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