Films

Inside the dragon

Forty years after Enter The Dragon, ShortList revisits a kung-fu classic with actor Bob Wall and producer Paul Heller.

The Enter The Dragon 40th Anniversary Special Edition Blu-ray with UltraViolet copy is out now

  • Inside the dragon

    Bob Wall (who played the hirsute O’Hara)

    “Those high-pitched sounds you hear from Bruce? That was his way of exhaling to deflate his lungs and soften the blow of a punch – but it helped make him a star. If you did it right, not even George Foreman could break your ribs. Bruce was a grandmaster of putting emotion into a scene.”

  • Inside the dragon 1

    Wall (pictured)

    “I was one of the only guys who could take Bruce’s punches and kicks. He’d say, ‘Bob, I’m going to break something,’ and I’d respond with, ‘Go ahead, you little Chinaman.’ He’d laugh, but after four takes I thought, ‘What am I doing?’ because he could kick like a mule.”

  • Inside the dragon 2

    Paul Heller, producer, Enter The Dragon

    “Bruce had lost out on US TV shows, so he went back to Hong Kong and made a few films because executives didn’t think Asian actors could carry a picture in those days, but his aim was global fame. I’ve never met anybody who wanted to be a star more than he did. Bruce was only getting started.”

  • Inside the dragon 3

    Paul Heller

    “The recent passing of Jim Kelly (right) was an awful shame. He was a lovely man who did a lot for the black power movement. I produced Black Belt Jones, a blaxploitation film he starred in a year later, one of many US martial arts films made off the back of Enter The Dragon.”

  • Inside the dragon 4

    Paul Heller

    “There were 8,000 mirrors in the final scene. Bruce and Shih Kien, who played villain Han, kept bumping into them, and our cameraman would go outside every 20 minutes because his head was such a mess. Bruce was glistening due to the heat.”

  • Inside the dragon 5

    Bob Wall

    “For the scene where I attack Bruce with a bottle [pictured], we used real glass. ‘Try to stab me in the neck for real,’ he’d say. He jammed his fist into the bottle by mistake. He spent the rest of the day in hospital. Bruce would have fired me if I didn’t go at him for real.”

  • Inside the dragon 6

    Bob Wall

    “Bruce was a real joker on set but above all, he was a brilliant athlete who’d constantly be doing two-finger push-ups. His body was so svelte because he studied every muscle, took a keen interest in bodybuilding, ate a very clean diet

    and was always reading about all kinds of fighting.”

  • Inside the dragon 7

    Paul Heller

    “When I first saw Bruce using nunchucks, my chin dropped. Another time, he came into my hotel room to show me his one-inch punch. I’m a big guy and braced as hard as I could, but I flew across that room. To put every fibre of his being into one little instant of power… it was amazing to feel that.”

  • Inside the dragon 8

    Bob Wall

    “A lot of the extras were Chinese gang members. Some of these guys would call Bruce out, claiming he was just an actor. So Bruce invited a much bigger guy down. When this guy tried to punch Bruce, he dodged it and I knew what would happen next. He threw him into a wall, knee-dropping him, slapping him four times to get his mouth bloody. He said to him, ‘How do you like my acting now?’”