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The Making of Enter the Dragon Paperback – 1 Dec 1987
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lenses and was going to kill his co star Bob Wall on the basis of "keeping face". Robert Clouse may not be the greatest wordsmith on the
block, but he is never boring, I couldn't put it down, that and a wealth of behind the scenes photos make this a very worthwhile purchase.
Highly recommended for anyone with an interest in film making on a tight budget, more so for Bruce's legions of fans, makes a superb
companion to the film.
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As for the text . . . it is nothing more than a series of anecdotes, many of them lacking punch lines. It reads as if Clouse sat down one afternoon after a couple of martinis and talked randomly into a tape recorder, after which an assistant tried to assemble his ramblings into a very short book. Worse still, the text is also pretentious, self-serving, and maybe not entirely reliable. Did Bruce Lee really make a serious plan to kill Bob Wall? Did Clouse really talk him out of it? He says he did. Wall, of course, has said that this is preposterous. Wall has also described Clouse as a hack director who had no respect for martial arts.
Photographs of Clouse show him as an amiable but empty-faced man. He seems to have had a good visual sense--I never get tired of those long-lens shots of Hong Kong. But to what extent were they the work of cinematographer Gil Hubbs, who shot the whole movie with just two Arriflexes and three lenses? And was it Clouse or Hubbs who framed the fight scenes so tightly, with faces of the fighters sometimes filling the entire screen? These shots created intimacy and immediacy that was so different from the Shaw brothers movies of the era, where you often saw just a couple of guys facing off in an empty field, and the camera seemed to have been bolted to its tripod.
We will never know how the movie turned out so well visually, because Clouse doesn't tell us a single thing about his directorial decisions (except, he complains sometimes about actors changing their lines). If he had any vision, he doesn't mention it. If he had any prior interest in martial arts or even generic action movies, he says nothing about it. If he had any passion for this movie, or for any other movie, it is indetectible. He writes as if he sleep-walked through the whole thing.
I found myself wondering, again and again, how such a not-very-smart guy ended up making such a minor masterpiece. We know *why* he got the job--he had a skimpy track record, so he was cheap. We also know how Gil Hubbs got to shoot it: he was one of only two non-union cinematographers available, and he, likewise, was willing to work for very little pay. We know that the producers found a man named Michael Allin to write a horribly derivative script, basically a pastiche of James Bond movies, and Bruce Lee became so angry with the writer's cluelessness, Allin was told to go home.
So how did the movie turn out so well? Just serendipity? Or because so much of it was really controlled by Bruce Lee?
Not only that, but this book, with the benefit of hindsight, traces the rise of a Chinese-American movie star on the brink of international superstardom. With detailed explanations on the strategy behind helping Bruce Lee cross-over to Western movie-going audiences as well as a comprehensive account of Bruce Lee's working methods on that movie, and the challenge of Americans making a movie in Hong Kong; this book will be helpful to Bruce Lee fans as well as film students.
While Enter The Dragon Movie Producer Fred Weintraub also chronicled what it was like to work with Bruce Lee on the Enter The Dragon movie in his 2012 book, "Bruce Lee, Woodstock and Me: From the Man Behind a Half-Century of Music, Movies and Martial Arts" Mr. Fred Weintraub's version is somewhat limited--despite it being a super-entertaining and irresistible read. Robert Clouse's book is a terrific keepsake for fans of the Classic Hollywood Martial Arts Film, ENTER THE DRAGON.