Sunday, March 2, 2008

Enter the Dragon

This movie left me with more questions than answers about Asian men's portrayal of masculinity in pop culture. At first glance, this movie seems to contrast the traditional stereotypes of Asian men and almost ranks Bruce Lee in the conventional definitions of masculinity . Bruce Lee is seen as an exceptionally strong and confident man, almost entering the realm of "too violent." However, a second look reveals that Bruce Lee is not the conventional "manly man." In James Bond movies, the white man's version of this film, there are two defining aspects of masculinity (that James Bond always possesses): strength and women. In Enter the Dragon, Bruce Lee does not possess the second of these aspects. So does this movie really do much to de-alienate Asians from mass society?

In many ways, this movie works to keep Asian Americans into the "other" group. Although Bruce Lee is seen as a character with great power and strength, the source of his power and strength are not from conventional means. In James Bond movies, Bond always manages to defeat the enemy through using the newest technology available. Even in other movies with the white male superstar protagonist, he is usually portrayed as winning through brute strength and ruthlessness. In Enter the Dragon, Bruce Lee does not prevail through new technology or brutishness. He wins through the "old" traditions of Kung Fu and his style of "the art of fighting without fighting." Bruce Lee's style is about emotional content, not anger or ruthlessness. The portrayal of Asian women in this film is not much different from the prominent stereotypes either. Asian women are primarily seen as sex slaves, only desired by American men because of their "exoticness."

Overall, I do not think this film was very progressive, but instead just set another stereotype for Asian men to be grouped into. In the end, Asians are still seen as foreign and stuck in their old traditions.

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