Lets call this review 'A Tale of Two Bruce's'.
What do you get when you mix two of my favorite genres as well as two of my favorite movies as well as two people/characters? A run-on sentence and cinematic splendor.
I give you Christopher Nolan’s ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ (2012) and Robert Clouse’s ‘Enter The Dragon’ (1973).
Kung fu and comics? Batman and Bruce Lee? Umm, yes please! Both films, though they follow two different plot lines, crescendo to a final twin-like conflict. I’ll note several similarities between the two films, specifically related to the final fights of both scenes.
Plot leading to climax. In ‘Dark Knight Rises’, Bruce Wayne, after escaping from Bane’s prison, makes his way back to Gotham hoping to take back his city. With the help of Detective Blake (who we find to be Robin), they free trapped Police officers to gear up for an “all out assault on Bane”. The stage is set for Batman and his army of police to do battle with Bane and his army of mercenaries in the streets of Gotham.
In ‘Enter The Dragon, Bruce Lee, after taking out a gang of guards in Han’s underground lab, is captured and presented in front of Hans court. Meanwhile a fellow operative, Mei Ling, is secretively freeing an army of captured defectors. This sets the stage for Bruce and his army of defectors in an underground prison (the police in DKR, were trapped underground) to take on Han and his army of fighters. Starting to see the similarities?
Location. Gotham is literally an island...I think 🤔. It was at least figuratively an island, made so after Bane blew up bridges and cut off contact from the outside world. Han set up a tournament on his island, an island with little contact from the outside world. Two islands. Both places under the rule of a warlord. Both self sustained and unplugged.
Character names. Both their names are Bruce (Though Bruce Lee's character is Lee, not Bruce). Go figure.
Character motivation. Both with a sense of the greater good of the public, but an even greater desire of personal redemption and retribution. Batman- the murder of Wayne’s parents and the love of his city. Lee- the murder of his sister and the defilement of the temple he attends.
Lastly, let’s get to the Visuals!
I’ve put together some comparisons of screen grabs from the final conflicts of each film. I have no idea whether Nolan and Pfister (DP) intentionally had ‘Enter The Dragon’ on minds, they made subconscious choices, or if these were all complete coincidences. Either way these conflicts very much so analogous (I looked up the word analogous in the thesaurus to sound smarter than I actually am). We’ve got armies fighting in the background. Overly dramatic stare downs amidst chaos. A weird amount of space left for the main characters. The small fight representing the grand. Goosebumps, right? Yeah, me too.
Is it stealing? Copying? Lazy? Or is it a cool celebration of the past and the present? All I can say is it serves the story of Batman perfectly. That’s the point, right? Every cinematic choice should serve the story. Just as reading books can make you a better writer, watching movies can make you a better filmmaker. Having a library of images and stories in your head makes for useful inspiration in telling your story. So never mind me being a huge fan of kung fu, comics, Batman and Bruce Lee. This is just really, really cool.
So thanks for tuning into my pointless rant. Go watch both movies.✌🏾
P.S. Check out this cool video that shows what I've said!