Wednesday, 27 July 2011
Exit The Dragon, Enter The Tiger
Title: Exit The Dragon, Enter The Tiger
Director: Tso Nam Lee
Staring: Bruce Li, Chang Yi, Lung Fei, Shan Mao, Kam Kong, Got Siu Bo, Cheng Fu Hung
Plot: After Bruce Lee mysteriously dies his friend David (Li) sets out to find out why.
Review: Bruceploitation is a strange subgenre of Exploitation cinema, seeing how it’s essentially based on cashing in on Bruce Lee’s legacy and fame and is unique in being the only Exploitation sub genre based around a person rather than a theme or setting. The majority of these films featured actors of varying martial arts ability, with most hired for their resemblance to Bruce Lee which again varied greatly between those with an uncanny resemblance to those who bore absolutely no resemblance to the great man whatsoever! Bruce Li thankfully is one of the better ones.
Opening with Bruce Lee (also played here by Li) having a premonition of his own death, which he shares with his friend David aka Tiger, with the setup it would seem being that Tiger is the true predecessor to Bruce, as further highlighted by the title sequence in which he gets to show off his skills while being sound tracked to Issac Hayes’s groovy “Theme From Three Tough Guys”, which shares more than few similarities to the “Enter The Dragon” theme. Still I don’t think I’ve seen a film so keen to make sure that the audience gets the message than this film, as nearly every wall in the film seems to be covered with posters of Bruce Lee, well those which aren’t covered with pornography which for some unknown reason doesn’t seem to faze anyone. The DVD cover is none the less insane, I mean look at it, let alone the fact that David seems to have a tiger growing out of his armpit! I also love the quote on the back cover “See Bruce Lee choose his successor!” almost as if the studio are trying to make out that this film is some kind of biopic, but then it’s this sheer randomness which makes the Bruceploitation genere like so much exploitation cinema so much fun.
With the sudden death of Bruce and shameless use of stock footage from his funeral, David returns from Hong Kong and sets about conducting his own investigation, essentially consists of hanging around GoGo Bars, harassing assorted members of The Baron’s gang and generally kicking alot of ass, with David eventually discovering that The Baron was attempting to use Bruce to help him smuggle heroin, which has to be one of the most batshit insane theories about his death, since the theory that he faked his own death so he could work undercover for the Hong Kong police to bust up drug rings, but no doubt a theory explored further in another of these films.
The plot is pretty straightforward and is consists pretty much of David switching between detective mode and ass kicking mode, while the second half of the movie David for some reason suddenly starts referring to himself as Tiger, but then are really trying to make sense of a film with a film as insane as it is. Out of the two modes, his ass kicking one is certainly provides the more enjoyable parts of the film, even though they do suffer in places from some sloppy editing which sadly takes away from these scenes which are otherwise great and frequently inventive, while for some they may go on alittle too long, but seeing how tedious some of the non fighting scenes are I was actually happy that these scenes went on as long as they do. The final beach showdown is certainly great to look at cinematically, even if it does bring once again into question the health and safety regulations of Hong Kong film sets.
Li whose real name is Ho Chung Tao, was given the name of Bruce Li by producer Jimmy Shaw spent most his career making Bruceploitation movies, with this film being the one which would truly launch his career, even if he hated his screen name citing that “I don’t like it, because I can act like him, but I can’t be him”. In an alternative reality I have no doubt that Li, much like the equally overlooked Conan Lee and could have been a much bigger star had the studios not been so keen to pass him off as a replacement Bruce Lee.
“Exit The Dragon, Enter The Tiger” is one of the better films in the genre and while there are certainly more random titles under the Bruceploitation label (see “The Clones of Bruce Lee”) this isn’t an overly bad film if judged on its fight scenes, while the rest of the film can be slightly testing to get through, while it still shame that we never got to see Li reach the same heights as the man he imitated.