Martial arts purists, unite: Hollywood is planning a remake of Bruce Lee‘s classic Enter the Dragon. According to the report, it will not be a faithful version but rather a contemporized remake, with noir undertones, set in the illicit world of fight clubs.
Who, you ask, would have the audacity to attempt a remake of one of the most legendary martial arts films in history? Variety reports that Warner Independent has given the go-ahead to Kurt Sutter, a longtime writer and executive producer of the award-winning F/X show The Shield, who is currently penning the script and will direct himself.
Perhaps for the better, the film — entitled Awaken the Dragon — will only loosely resemble the 1973 Bruce Lee film. Instead of a kung fu expert going undercover at a martial arts tournament to infiltrate a drug ring, the new version will follow “a lone FBI agent who pursues a rogue Shaolin monk into the bloody world of underground martial arts fight clubs.”
By Sutter’s own description, it sounds like the film will draw inspiration from more cinematic sources than just Enter the Dragon. From Variety:
“I’m a huge noir fan, and this plot lends itself to the film I want to make,” Sutter said. “I wanted to set it in these underground fight clubs where the action is really raw and expose the brutality of Shaolin kung fu. This will be more ‘Raging Bull‘ than ‘Crouching Tiger‘ in its viciousness.”
Another tidbit about the new film that Variety shares is Sutter’s plan for casting the project: “Sutter will look to discover a fight star in the role of the monk and cast an established American actor to play the FBI agent.”
“Noir,” “Raging Bull,” “FBI agent.” Meditate on those keywords for a minute, then set adrift on memory bliss with a few classic moments from the original, via YouTube: the nunchaku scene; the mirror fight; heck, here’s the theatrical trailer.
Enter the Dragon was the last film Bruce Lee completed before his untimely death in July 1973. Warner Bros. released the film nearly a month to the day later, and reaped huge sums in both the domestic and international markets ($25 million in the U.S. and $90 million worldwide, excluding Hong Kong, and in 1973). Lee’s iconic position in film history spawned a notorious subgenre of cinema after his death — Brucesploitation — but this seems to be the first attempt at an official “remake.” Interestingly enough, two of the original producers of Enter the Dragon, Fred Weintraub and Paul Heller, will also produce Awaken the Dragon.
Qualms aside, we can’t help but wonder if Sutter could sneak in a few cameos for Enter the Dragon fans — what’s Jim Kelly up to these days? Weigh in with your thoughts below.