Friday, July 26, 2013

THIS DATE IN HISTORY: 40th anniversary of Enter the Dragon's premiere! (July 26, 1973)

40 years ago today, Bruce Lee's Enter the Dragon premiered. Sadly, he passed away ~3 weeks prior and never saw the popularity he gained from that film. In honor of the movie, here is some trivia you may or may not know:


  • Production was halted briefly when a young woman's body was found near the set.
  • The opening credits appear 8 minutes and 30 seconds into the film.
  • Bruce Lee died in Hong Kong three weeks before the film's premiere in 1973. The movie The Game of Death, which was completed after Lee's death, includes footage from his funeral.
  • Bruce Lee actually struck Jackie Chan in the face with one of his fighting sticks (or was it a staff?). He immediately apologized and insisted that Chan could work on all of his movies after that. Unfortunately, Lee died before he could keep his promise.
  • The character Williams was intended for Rockne Tarkington.
  • Biker movie legend William Smith was supposed to play Roper, but was unavailable at the time of filming.
  • Over 8,000 mirrors were used to set up the "Hall of Mirrors" where the climactic duel takes place.
  • One of two English-language movies in which Bruce Lee speaks with his natural voice. The other is Marlowe.
  • The courtyards where Han's martial arts students train were actually modified tennis courts.
  • Bruce Lee suffered some on-set injuries. His hand was severely cut while shooting O'Hara's death scene, when Bob Wall mistimed his thrust of the broken bottle towards Lee (fake glass was not available). When Lee held the poisonous snake that guarded the secret entrance to Han's drug lab, the snake bit him. Fortunately, the snake's venom gland had been removed.
  • Warner Brothers wanted to call the film "Han's Island" because it thought international audiences would be confused by an action film titled "Enter the Dragon". Other alternate titles were "Blood and Steel" and "The Deadly Three", a reference to Bruce Lee's, John Saxon's and Jim Kelly's characters
  • The opening fight sequence between Bruce Lee and Sammo Hung Kam-Bo was shot after filming, and completed at Lee's request.
  • The scene where Han takes Roper down to his underground opium factory via his "guillotine lift" was the last scene John Saxon shot
  • The movie was filmed without sound. All of the dialogue and effects were dubbed in during post-production
  • Final film of Bruce Lee (several of his films were released after his death).
  • After Bruce Lee cut his hand on the bottles due to a miscue by Bob Wall, he hit Wall with a "real" flying kick in a subsequent scene. Even though Wall knew it was coming, he was knocked into the man behind him so hard both of his arms were broken.
  • Bruce Lee defeats 50 opponents in a cave fight scene.
  • Jackie Chan Cameo:  Appears three times in the film. He is one of Su Lin's attackers (she knees him in the groin), and later, towards the end of the film in the big cave fight scene. Lee grabs his hair for a while before breaking his neck. Also, Lee hits Jackie with a staff. Please check out Jackie recounting his experience working with Bruce:  Jackie Chan talks about filming with Bruce Lee on Enter the Dragon
  • Sammo Hung Kam-Bo:  Bruce Lee's sparring partner during the fight before the opening credits.


The trivia items below may give away important plot points, not like you haven't seen the movie before :)

  • Kien Shih did not speak English, and mouthed his lines as best he could. Chinese-American actor Keye Luke overdubbed his dialogue. Luke also narrated an earlier scene depicting the death of Bruce Lee's sister.
  • Originally, Han was going to kill Roper, and Williams and Lee would fight Han's army at the end. Roper's and Williams' roles were reversed by John Saxon's agent.


For other Enter the Dragon-related entries, please check out:

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