As jazz became a popular element of film scores during the 1960s and 1970s, jazzman turned film composer Lalo Schifrin
rose to prominence by penning notable jazz-inflected scores for films such as Bullitt and Dirty Harry. In 1973, he tackled a new challenge by writing the score for Enter the Dragon, an ambitious martial arts film that was the American debut of cult legend Bruce Lee. The resulting score combined Schifrin
's penchant for adding jazz and funk elements to the traditional film scoring style with elements of traditional Chinese music, giving the whole combination a new, ethnic flavor. The best example of this unique fusion is the film's "Main Titles": After establishing itself with a combination of jazzy horn stabs and funky wah-wah guitar, this inventive tune layers a Chinese-style melody played by strings and synthesizers over the insistent rhythms, creating a composition that cuts across several different musical genres while still fulfilling the requirements for an exciting action film theme. Another showcase for the film's fusion of Chinese and jazz styles is "Su Lin (The Monk)," which layers Asian-styled melodic elements over churning jazz rhythms. Other highlights in the action-oriented style include "Bamboo Birdcage," which alternates moody, wind instrument-driven sections with outbursts of horn-driven funk, and "The Big Battle," which restates several of the film's action themes over a percolating bassline. There are also a few quiet interludes, like the sax-driven mid-tempo jazz of "The Gentle Softness." The result is an entertainingly diverse soundtrack whose musical invention makes it just as entertaining when listened to away from the film. Collector's note: This soundtrack was reissued in 1998 by Warner Bros. as part of a deluxe video reissue of the film in an expanded edition that restored all of the film's musical cues to the album. This review applies to that version.