According to Collider, the 40th anniversary Blu-ray of “Enter the Dragon” features a Q&A with many people involved in the film, including producers at Warner Bros. Fred Weintraub and Paul Heller. During the session, they reveal the unlikely story of how Lee came to Hollywood. In the early 1970s, Weintraub watched old Chinese films for new ideas and was captivated by the fight sequences at the end of the films “when the guy in white comes out and destroys five hundred guys in black all by himself”.
This led the couple to Lee, who was already a legend of Hong Kong martial arts cinema and a martial arts trainer for Hollywood stars. Lee had previously dabbled in Hollywood with little success. He appeared in the short-lived TV show “The Green Hornet”, but his only other English speaking film was 1969’s “Marlowe”, and he lost the role of Kwai Chang Caine in the TV series “Kung Fu”. Doing an American production with Lee was difficult because, as Weintraub explained, in 1973, “never had a Chinese been played by a real Chinese”.
Weintraub and Heller continued unabated and eventually secured enough international funding to produce “Enter the Dragon”. Although set in Hong Kong, the film featured two established American stars, John Saxon and Jim Kelly, and similar conventions to a James Bond film to make it more familiar to American audiences. While Lee was perfect for the role, the same couldn’t be said for rookie cinematographer Gil Hubbs. Recalling his conversation with director Bob Clouse, Hubbs said:
“It was shooting in anamorphic, but I didn’t even know what it was. I had my American Cinematheque manual on the plane and I had to look in anamorphic, which is widescreen. .”
Although Hubbs had only done commercials and documentaries thus far, he was poised to help capture Lee’s most gripping fight sequence in his entire catalog of films.