Sunday, February 13, 2011

Enter The Dragon as Good Will Hunting - Script Improvements on Kien Shih's (Han) single dimensional character

Continued from Why Enter The Dragon is Bruce Lee's worst movie...

As I explained in the last installment, Enter The Dragon is a ridiculously bad movie. In fact, it's so bad that sometimes I've watched it just to get some laughs out of it. It has all the problems of all the Kungfu movies ever made but what really irked me is the main villain Han played by Kien Shih not only because a single dimensional villain a very bad idea for any movie but also because Enter The Dragon could easily have been one of Bruce Lee's greatest movies of all times if he had just gotten Han right!

shih-kien-bruce-lee-enter-the-dragon-script
Going back to Han's personality and the overall lack of "emotional content" issues - All we know of the villain is that he is some Shaolin outlaw turned mafia don. The only thing that separates both Bruce Lee and Kien Shih from rest of the generic James Bond-ish heroes and villains, respectively, is that they use Kungfu instead of guns; hence the need of back stories and "emotional content." We know why Bruce is doing all this but what's going inside Kien Shih? What is his story? How does he feel about Shaolin and himself? Does he have any secret regrets? Internal conflicts?

As a movie viewer, we don't really understand or relate to him, we know nothing about him, he is just another "boss" in a video game. What if we found that he is internally conflicted about leaving Shaolin? May be he was one of the smartest guys in Shaolin and figured that he could do much better outside and that the teachings of Buddhism don't make sense in the real world. But may be he is internally conflicted and now that he has gotten all the success and money that he could possibly wish for, a part of him realizes that this really hasn't made him happier in life, that he has just exchanged his home and people who cared about him with a lot of money and loneliness. May be he did not want to go this far and feels lost?

I mean, the guy is obviously wicked smart (you don't become an international crimeoverlord by
shih-kien-bruce-lee-enter-the-dragon-script
being dumb) and brought up in a highly spiritual environment. May be he now, when he has achieved all his dreams, he has begin to understand the Shaolin teachings more deeply than ever. May be he subconsciously wants some sort of catharsis to resolve this conflict. May be he has stolen some ancient Shaolin forbidden secret Kungfu scrolls too, the stuff that even Bruce doesn't know! Hey, now THAT's the villain that I want to see! I don't care about John Saxon's and Jim Kelly's back stories, I don't even see the need for them in this movie all that much!

I don't care about Bob Wall and Bruce Lee's sister thing either, it feels like a stupid patch up. The movie could be about a brilliant Shaolin monk who just ended up somewhere he did not truly want to be but has no choice other than keep going forward, who finally gets his catharsis with the help of a younger but morally better version of himself in the form of Bruce!
Good Will Kungfu Hunting? Yeah, may be, I find that this approach adds that "emotional content" and multiple dimensions to this story that already excels in the Kungfu department. And talking about Kungfu, the climatic fight could also have improved by using the ancient-Kungfu-scrolls that Kien Shih stole, as his secret weapon that even Bruce can't handle! Bruce is pretty much invincible throughout the movie and it gets boring pretty fast, but what if we make Bruce the underdog in the boss fight? He is still the best but the villain has the upper hand because of a secret weapon, even the claws/mirrors could be part of that secret weapon!

I mean, as it is we know that the Kien Shih will put up a fight but Bruce will eventually win - boring! But if Kien Shih did have an upper hand, then we would be intrigued because we obviously want Bruce to win, but we don't know how he'll do it! We would be glued to our seats and cheer when Bruce finally figures an ingenious way to fight back. And seeing this happen, Kien Shih would get his much needed catharsis as well - To Shih, the regular Shaolin monks are just too dumb to do anything more than their pointless lives, and he certainly wouldn't listen to someone who he feels is inferior to him. But in Bruce, he has finally found someone who is at least as good in Kungfu as he was/is but also someone who is better than him morally. He has found
someone who finally shows him what he himself could have done and what he could have been. In Bruce, he could see himself back in the day doing everything right, and he would die with this catharsis and would happily pass his legacy - the ancient scrolls or money to repair Shaolin temple's plumbing or whatever - to Bruce before dying. Hey, I'd go see that movie and I think Bruce was capable of something even better than this (as I understand that my version could use fewer clich├ęs).

So, I was surprised why Bruce went with this plot, specially after doing somewhat more complex movies like Fist of Fury etc, so I looked up who else wrote this and seems Michael Allin cowrote this with Bruce. Michael Allin some other works are Flash Gordon, Truck Turner and Checkered Flag or Crash....haven't watched/read any of those, and I probably won't for a long time. But hey, who knows may be Bruce did want to go for a cheesier westernized version, or may be he would've improved the sequels with a retrospective understanding of what was lacking. Unfortunately, we will never find out...

Part I of Enter The Dragon series here

2 comments:

  1. It wouldn't appeal to the audience intended and normally drawn to kung fu movies. It's morals of the working class, the immigrant, the black guy etc in the 70s. They want the boss to be evil and they want him punished and dead for his involvement in crime and being an authoritarian torturer and generally an unpleasant guy. Just like they perceive their own, real bosses.

    ReplyDelete
  2. BLAH,..BLAH,..BLAH..Enter The Dragon was a great movie,yet 3 things, Bruce should have fought Bolo and Han should have had more skills and been younger and Jim Kelly should not have been the one to die.

    ReplyDelete