The movie poster image I will analyze is the poster for the action film Enter the Dragon, directed by Robert Clouse. The film features Bruce Lee, who seeks revenge for his sister and looks to the evidence for opium trade on Han’s private island. The intended audience for the film is people from all age groups.
This poster displays, martial arts action film conventions as Bruce Lee, William, and Roper, prominent martial artists, are displayed on top of the poster.
Bruce Lee is holding a pair of nunchaku, showing his strong abdominal and shoulder muscles, and William and Roper are both in aggressive postures as they are ready to fight.
The poster admittedly has some flaws in introducing the plot of the film and martial arts. Shaolin Kung Fu, a branch of martial arts that well combines Buddhism, concentrates on various forms of combat skills, but rarely involves the practice of nunchaku, as is handled perfectly by Lee in the film and leaves a deep impression on the audience.
Besides, Lee does not look like Shaolin monks who shave their heads and seldom expose their bodies to demonstrate their commitment to the Holy life. Moreover, the title Their deadly mission: to crack the forbidden island of Han! Does not summarize the plot accurately. “Their” apparently refers to Lee, William, and Roper; however, even if they all play an equivalent role in the film, William and Roper, as gamblers and are harassed by the police and the creditor, take part in the tournament for money instead of the mission.
However, despite a small number of flaws in the poster, the poster is effective in catching the attention of the audience because it indicates that the film integrates various genres. The whole post is embedded in a red frame with a pair of dragons on edge: the red color forecast good luck in the upcoming year, and dragons are legendary creatures in mythology in China. They raise the interests of the Chinese people who are familiar with such elements. But the poster also introduces a large number of other features that draw the crowds in the Western world. For instance, William is a skilled African American fighter evidenced by the strong-willed expressions in his eyes and professional postures in the poster. His positive image popularizes the ethnic group of African American in the community.
And although William, Roper, and William belong to different races and backgrounds, they take the practice of martial arts and struggle against Han, a representation of evilness in the poster. Therefore, when they saw the poster, the western spectator might consider the film as a “melting pot,” a blending of the characters from different races who unite against Han’s dictatorial rule and illegal opium trade on the island.
The poster’s effectiveness in attracting the audience from both the eastern and western world reflects the trend of warmer diplomatic relationship between the United States and China in the early 1970s, as is evidenced by President Nixon’s official visit to China, which marked a thaw in the antagonistic relations.
In response to the change in politics, Hollywood released Enter the Dragon in the following year. Lee became the protagonist in the film and was placed in the center of the poster. Unlike Broken Blossoms that selected an American actor to perform Cheng and betrayed his deficits implicitly to cater to the dominant social force, the poster image of Enter the Dragon genially portrayed Lee as a heroic figure. He is half-naked and openly shows his muscular body; he holds the nunchaku tightly with a firm and indomitable eyes expression.
So I think the poster is effective in selling the film Enter the Dragon. It does have some flaws in describing eastern culture and summarizing the plot in the film; however, it manages to catch the attention of the audience from the globe because of its diverse genres.