In a too-brief career, martial artist/actor Bruce Lee appeared in only four complete films before his untimely death in 1973 at the age of 32, The Big Boss (released in the U.S. as Fists of Fury), Fist of Fury (released in the U.S. as The Chinese Connection), Way of the Dragon (released here as Return of the Dragon), and Enter the Dragon, his first (and last) English-language film. A fifth film, Game of Death, begun before Enter the Dragon, but left unfinished at the time of Lee's death, was released in 1978 with doubles and stand-ins. A Golden Harvest and Warner Bros. co-production (the first of its kind), Enter the Dragon promised to make the charismatic Lee a star not just internationally (he was already that), but an American one as well. Lee died less than a week before Enter the Dragon's Hong Kong premiere.

At the behest of Warner Bros., Lee agreed to share co-lead status with an American actor, John Saxon (Roper), and to widen the demographics to urban audiences with an African-American martial arts star, Jim Kelly (Williams). Three leads meant less time on-screen for Lee, but that did little to blunt Lee's impact whenever Enter the Dragon returned to his character and storyline. When we first meet Lee (he's called Lee in the film too), he's in practice mode, beating a pudgy opponent (Sammo Hung) in an easy match-up. After Lee engages in a Kung-Fu-style exchange of Eastern-influenced platitudes with an orange-robed, elder Shaolin monk, he meets an official from a Europol-like organization, Mr. Braithwaite (Geoffrey Weeks).