When people are at the top of their game, that is usually when they have the urge to expand their range. This is clear in all fields, explaining Michael Jordan’s decision to play baseball, any number of actors who have transitioned into the world of music, musicians transitioning into the world of acting, or Kanye West’s apparent plans to try his hand at politics. It also explains why comedic actors inevitably try dramatic work at one point or another. While Enter the Dragon is a martial arts film like many others that Donnie Yen has made, the addition of slapstick comedy makes it the type of film one might expect to see Jackie Chan starring in. And though Yen is capable of the added element, this doesn’t save the film from being a bit derivative and tonally uneven.
In the film’s prologue sequence, we are introduced to “super-cop” Fallon Zhu (Yen), a man who puts everything into his job at the expense of his TV actress girlfriend (Niki Chow). When stopping a bank robbery gets in the way of taking his wedding photos, as well as costing the department a great deal of money in damages, Fallon finds himself demoted and dumped at the same time. Six months of being stuck doing office work and eating out of the vending machine adds a great deal of weight. As a result, the majority of the film features Yen in a bodysuit and heavy make-up, often reminding me of Andy Lau’s ridiculous bodysuit as a steroid-fueled stripper in Running on Karma (2003).
As a chance to get back on the job, Fallon is sent on a routine mission transporting a key witness to Japan. When that witness is lost while in his custody, only to show up dead, Fallon becomes determined to solve his murder. Cut off from backup in his department, Fallon pairs up with his local contact, Thor (Jing Wong), and his restauranteur girlfriend (Teresa Mo), discovering a level of corruption enabling organized crime to rule the streets. Luckily, the weight that Fallon has added has no effect on his ability to fight.
Since the action choreography is taken seriously, most of the humor in the fights comes from the ridiculousness of Yen’s bodysuit, along with his transparent attempt to imitate some of Chan’s signature slapstick expressions. In many ways, the weight issue provides little to the film beyond a gimmicky title reference to Bruce Lee’s most iconic film. The film would have even worked as a comedy without the dated jabs at the overweight and would have made it easier to see how impressive some of the things Yen accomplishes are without the bodysuit in the way. The addition of this obvious gimmick only diminishes the overall quality of the film, which still may have been middle-of-the-road for Yen, who has made some unwatchable films in the recent past.
The Blu-ray release of Enter the Fat Dragon is given a basic Blu-ray release, missing any notable extras on or off the disc. There is no digital copy, DVD, or featurettes to boast, making it obvious that the studio support was minimal. It may be a slight film in every way, but there are also worse choices for fans of Yen or the martial arts genre.
Entertainment Value: 8/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 6.5/10
Historical Significance: 3.5/10
Special Features: 1/10