Saturday, March 1, 2008

The Grand Illusion of the Enemy

Throughout the screening of Enter the Dragon, I could not help but focus on the "James Bond style" villain character of Mr. Han. Despite Bruce Lee's role as the protagonist and all the involved issues concerning sexuality, Asian masculinity and the angry Asian body, Mr. Han is presented as a direct contrast to Bruce Lee. Mr. Han is thoroughly emasculated through his usage of henchmen, technology (ex. the claws) and vast personal wealth.

However, the status of Mr. Han as the "patriarch" of his criminal organization, glaringly apparent when surrounded by his personal female guards, provides a grand illusion of a powerful, albeit evil, Asian male figure. As the self-made and de facto leader of all persons on his island, Mr. Han is able to manipulate the actions surrounding Bruce Lee and the other fighters. Nevertheless, Mr. Han's gun prohibitions on his own island originate from the lingering fear over the decapitation of his hand. Direct and supreme control is the only setting where Mr. Han's power is ensured in the film. The immense power of Mr. Han is thereby only an artificial construction, which may allude to a rather negative assumption that most Asian males require the traditional, patriarchal societal structure as a means of safeguarding masculinity and power. The presence of Bruce Lee's character may upon first glance undermine the aforementioned argument since Lee is an independent undercover agent, but even Bruce Lee is situated in a rather patriarchal system where head Shaolin monks and British police chiefs essentially have absolute control over him.

Returning to the subject of Mr. Han, viewers can cleary see that the martial art skills he utilized against Bruce Lee's character towards the end of the film did not allude to an angry Asian body but were rather a desperate attempt of self-preservation. Prashad states that "90 percent of Oriental self-defense is baloney...it's organized despair" (132). In the case of Mr. Han, this may prove true. Mr. Han thus embodied a pitiful archenemy and black market businessman clinging to pride and power.

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