EXCLUSIVE: Hot off Deadpool 2, David Leitch is in early talks to direct Enter the Dragon, the remake of the 1973 martial arts classic that cemented Bruce Lee’s iconic status. The original was a global hit out of Hong Kong, but its release was marked with tragedy as it came right after Lee’s death. The 45th anniversary of his death on July 20, 1973 was last Friday. They will now set a writer.
In Enter the Dragon, a Shaolin martial artist is pressed to enter a karate tournament on the island owned by the secretive Han, who is suspected of using the gathering as a way to smuggle drugs around the world. The protagonist has his own motivation: revenge. He learns that his sister fought for her life and ultimately killed herself on Han’s island, rather than succumb to rape by a group of Han’s thugs.
John Saxon and martial artists Jim Kelly, Bob Wall and Bolo Yeung lent validity to the fighting scenes, and Kien Shih made a formidable villain in Han. Adding some of the sweep that existed in global thriller franchises like 007, the film expanded the template for martial arts movies of the period and it was a shame Lee wasn’t around to embrace it and the groundbreaking strides he made for actors of Asian descent, and continue a movie career that already bloomed in Hong Kong but was only just getting started in Hollywood.
As it was, karate schools opened across the U.S. in the wake of the film’s release and saw a slew of movies with actors who looked like Lee but didn’t have anything close to his magnetism.
Warner Bros has been trying to figure out a way to recapture the magic of the Robert Clouse-directed film for years, with filmmakers like Spike Lee and Brett Ratner developing versions of the Golden Harvest release. Leitch is an intriguing choice.
Aside from being — as the opening credits boast in Deadpool 2–one of the guys who killed John Wick’s dog, the John Wick co-director helmed the Charlize Theron actioner Atomic Blonde and was second unit director on such films as Jurassic World and Captain America: Civil War. The WME-repped Leitch is also a former stuntman and was action unit director who understands the requirement for making the action look real. Still, he is stepping onto hallowed ground here. Doubt me? Have a look at the original trailer for the film: