A.S.I.A. screens Bruce Lee classic Enter the Dragon

There is no opponent, because “I” does not exist. Heady? Maybe. But this in-the-moment fighting philosophy runs deep in the 1973 marital arts classic, Enter the Dragon.

The movie, which Asian Students for Intercultural Awareness (A.S.I.A.) presents this evening as part of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, follows Shaolin monk and martial arts expert Lee (Bruce Lee). An international intelligence agency taps him to investigate and bring down suspected crime lord Han, a former monk who studied with the same master as Lee.

Under the pretense of competing in a martial arts tournament hosted by Han, Lee infiltrates the underbelly of the operation, doing plenty of spiritually sound ass-kicking along the way. Throw in a death-avenging subplot, and you’ve got the standard-setting martial arts film archetype.

Enter the Dragon, while directed and written by Americans — Robert Clouse and Michael Allin, respectively — was the first major studio picture done in collaboration with an Asian production house.

A.S.I.A. president Charles Gryor DeRupe said the organization chose to screen Enter the Dragon for its role in accurately portraying Eastern culture in Hollywood. “We were looking at how Asian-Americans are portrayed in the media,” DeRupe said. “And that image hasn’t necessarily been created by Asian-Americans.”

China’s Golden Harvest and Warner Bros. worked together to bring the project to U.S. screens, enlisting American actor, John Saxon, to play alongside Lee and members of the Peking Opera School’s Seven Little Fortunes — a group of acrobat/stuntmen/actors that, at the time, featured everyone’s favorite spy next door/Chris Tucker foil, Jackie Chan (Chan makes a brief, uncredited appearance as a prison thug).

Lee himself rewrote much of the opening Shaolin Temple fight scene, adding dialogue reflecting his personal martial arts philosophy and views on Chinese culture. DeRupe said it was Lee’s insistence on authenticity that cleared new ground for people of Asian descent in the U.S. film market.

“Bruce Lee was one of the most influential Asian actors in American film,” DeRupe said. “He broke into the industry at a time when Asian-Americans weren’t in demand or well-represented in Hollywood.”


Enter the Dragon screens at 7 p.m. tonight in Piano Row’s Multipurpose Room.