With the recent casting announcement of director Stephen Fung’s new Kickboxer reboot starring Alain Moussi, Scott Adkins, Tony Jaa, Dave Batista, and George St. Pierre, I felt this casting was just insane; a group of actors/martial artists that can really bring something special to the fight sequences…it’s something that many of us haven’t seen in an American martial arts film in quite some time!
That thought led to this one: Whatever happened to the classic martial arts tournament movie era that started with King Boxer AKA, Five Fingers of Death and ended with, Bloodsport? (Jean Claude Van Damme is more iconic to American martial arts films then some people think). Well, nowadays we have more actors who ARE real martial artists than ever before on screen, and we’re seeing different styles and systems that were never captured on film more than forty years ago. As such, a new tournament film showcasing hundreds of fighting styles would be an AWESOME idea, right?
So, the possibilities of a new tournament movie led me to think about the greatest cinematic martial arts tournament film of all time, bar none: Enter The Dragon starring the one and only Bruce Lee.
I grew up on Bruce Lee and so my take on martial arts films is this: There’s BBL (Before Bruce Lee) and ABL (After Bruce Lee). The man singlehandedly supercharged the genre (notice that I didn’t say “created”). He had me and my friends in our yards, beating the shit out of each other as the Kung Fu craze arrived in a 5’7″ 140 pound package in summer of 1973, and we LOVED it!
Eventually, these fond memories of my youth led to this realization that I kind of forgot about since it was pointed out back in 2007: Warner Bros announced that there would be an Enter The Dragon REBOOT. And like clockwork, people flipped their lids, solid on the notion that reobserving Lee’s 1973 masterpiece, the first co-production between a major Hollywood studio and a Chinese company (Golden Harvest) was just CRAZY! No one in his or her right mind should mess with that film! After all, Bruce Lee was the star of that film. Take him out, and what do you truly have?
However, deep down, after Robocop, Total Recall, Superman, The Thing and other movies, we know sooner or later it’s probably gonna happen. So while we’re at it, let us discuss an Enter The Dragon remake/reboot/reimagining – whatever you want to call it. Warner Bros. previosuly stated that Kurt Sutter, the creator of the popular television series, Sons of Anarchy, was attached to write the script. After that, nothing was ever said on the matter. So what happened? Who knows? I don’t exactly know for sure, but one other rumor was that the character, Roeper (played memorably by actor John Saxon) would be more of the lead, and Korean actor and musician, Rain, star of Ninja Assassin at the time (the scuttlebutt is that film tested good) would inherit the role of Lee as co-star.
Let’s say somebody came in my house and got all John Woo (circa 1989) and shot the place up, and then shoved a silver-plated 45mm against my temple and said, “You have to CAST and PRODUCE the ENTER THE DRAGON REMAKE and if you don’t, I will squeeze the trigger and these doves behind me will fly away in slow motion!” Needless to say, I would comply. No argument there.
Now I know many of you out there want to see new talent. I love new faces and new talent is fresh and exciting, but as a responsible producer, (remember Mr. Fat said CAST AND PRODUCE) taking chances on new talent can be (dare I say it) “risky.” So, I’m going to be fiscally responsible in my decisions and make sound choices, based on previous exposure (already having a career) and territorial appeal (international exposure), as well as the level of crazy martial arts skills I want seen.
Nuff said, here we go….
Tony Jaa would be my LEE and here is my reasoning: I love Iko Uwais (The Raid, The Raid 2). He could play Lee as well, but Jaa has already started transitioning into America with, Fast And Furious 7 and Skin Trade – the latter which seems to have a international polish and cast to it, and I’m sure that his co-stars Michael Jai White and Dolph Lundgren are speaking English.
I know that Jaa is not Chinese, but it could still work. Braithwaite (previously played by Geoffrey Weeks) could easily come to a monastery in Thailand and select Jaa. If they’re going to stick to that premise or build on it, I would want Jaa trim, more vascular and defined, (visual presentation is important) then he’s been recently, but I want the seriously deadly Tony Jaa from Ong Bak!
Next, Scott Adkins could be my choice for my version of ROPER, one who can kick all kinds of HELLA ASS! (And I would want him to be a Brit and keep his accent!) Even as a kid, I NEVER bought John Saxon, God bless his soul, to be that competent a martial artist (either that or Bruce Lee just made everyone else look bad.) Adkins has always been right on the brink of something great and is definitely one of the best non-Asian actors out there capable of performing martial arts in film. Plus, women like looking at him, which means your girlfriend or wife will not mind seeing this film.
Third and finally, Marrese Crump would be my choice for WILLIAMS. Yes, I could definitely cast others, but Marrese actually got me excited in The Protector 2. He gave Jaa a run for his money, (and that’s not easy) combining different martial arts styles, broken rhythm, speed, feints, boxing and kicking. Frankly, I hated the CGI in the film as Jaa and Crump were the only SFX the film really needed, but Crump’s performance IMPRESSED me! His confidence in the fight scenes, and character reminded me of Williams and his iconic hubris.
And there you have it! These are my selections, and if someone put a gun to my head and made me cast and produce an ENTER THE DRAGON remkae, this is how I would go about it. Also, I picked these guys because they’re around the same age, which I feel is important and would help these three look good together on screen; Even though I could have easily picked Donnie Yen and Michael Jai White (I LOVE THESE GUYS!) in place of Jaa and Crump, these men are not around the same age as Adkins (at least to my knowledge). Obviously however, they would have been my headliners a few years back.
So now that we got that out of the way, who would take the place of Oharra and Bolo, our two other beefy brawlers on Han’s Island? Could it be anywhere between Marko Zaror (Undisputed 3, Kiltro) and Darren Shahlavi (Ip Man 2, Pound Of Flesh)? Maybe Bolo Yeung’s son, professional bodybuilder David Yeung (Painted Faces)? Or, given the list possibilities, could we interpret these roles as new characters in a potential remake/reboot?
Feel free to comment and tell me if I’m crazy or not, but leave my mother out of this, she’s a nice lady!
This article was written by Xavier Q. Kantz, writer, indie filmmaker, ex-Martial Artist and daddy to the Blondtourage. You can follow him on Twitter @XavierQKantz