Warner Bros. has chosen a perfect director for the task, but who will star?
David Leitch, the director of Deadpool 2 and Atomic Blonde, is in talks to remake Enter The Dragon for Warner Bros., Deadline has announced. The original film follows the story of a Shaolin martial artist named Lee (iconically played by Bruce Lee), who is persuaded by British intelligence to participate in a private tournament hosted by a suspected crime lord. Lee is sent to gather evidence about the man in question, but he also has personal reasons for taking on the mission.
The studio has been trying to find a way to recreate the majesty of Enter the Dragon for a new generation, and Leitch is a great filmmaker to help them in their attempt. For a movie filled with action and stunts, it only seems fitting that a former stunt performer and coordinator who now directs some of the most exhilarating practical-stunt-filled action movies of today would be a good pairing with the redo.
Leitch got his start doubling for Brad Pitt and Jean-Claude Van Damme and moved on to choreographing stunts for such movies as Tron: Legacy and Ninja Assassin before making his directorial debut in 2014 in partnership with Chad Stahelski on John Wick. With Atomic Blonde, where Charlize Theron did all of the stunts she could within legal limits, it’s apparent that Leitch knows what he’s doing when it comes to ensuring his actors are well-trained and doing the best of their ability.
“You need those actors to want to do it, otherwise you won’t get those genuine characters on the screen.” Leitch says in a 2017 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, which also shared that the stunts went off “without a hitch” thanks to the experience and knowledge of Leitch and the other stunt coordinators on set.
Speaking of actors wanting to do their own stunts, let’s address the elephant in the room: who in God’s name is going to fill the shoes of Bruce Lee? Enter the Dragon is Enter the Dragon because of Bruce Lee. You can have the perfect director and the perfect writer, but if you’re stuck trying to replace someone who is essentially irreplaceable in the lead role, then remaking this film might not be as easy as it seems.
After Lee’s death, which happened one week before Enter the Dragon premiered in Hong Kong, there was sort of a competition among actors to take his place. One of those actors was Jackie Chan, as he was essentially coached to become “the next Lee.” However, upon his success, it was apparent that Chan would be famous for his own personality and martial arts skills, not a substitute. But that didn’t stop studios from hiring other actors that resembled Lee, and giving them names like “Bruce Li” and “Bruce Le.” I mean, come on, how far can one studio go until they decide to clone a deceased actor?
It’s hard to replace an actor so iconically attached to a role. There are a number of cases in remakes, sequels, and prequels, where this kind of thing just doesn’t work. Take, for example, Alden Ehrenreich portraying Han Solo in this year’s Star Wars prequel. I personally found it hard to get into Solo simply because of the lack of Harrison Ford. I know that he’s older now and they’re doing a prequel years after we first met Han, so the need to cast a younger Ford lookalike was necessary, but maybe we didn’t need the prequel at all?
Another example would be Emily Blunt playing Mary Poppins in the upcoming sequel to the eponymous 1964 classic starring Julie Andrews, who is too old to reprise the role. While anyone would have loved for her to return to the big screen as the iconic character, it wouldn’t have made sense. Mary Poppins seems like the type that doesn’t age. But, again with this movie, do we need a sequel? While I can’t deny that Emily Blunt looks the part, I just don’t think it will be the same. And for any Bruce Lee fans with the same stance on this matter, an Enter the Dragon remake is likely to be sacrilegious.
Regardless of what you think of the point of remaking something, especially a film as monumental and officially landmarked for its significance as Enter the Dragon is, there’s no denying this is a big step for Leitch, and those who are fans of his work are sure to be curious about what he’ll bring of his own to it. Perhaps even some forgiving fans of the original will actually find some nostalgia with the revamping of their beloved classic. Let the challenge to convince the rest of us begin.