This is a scene of Bruce Lee training
Image credit: Concord/BFI

Enter the Dragon, Bruce Lee‘s final film, was submitted to the BBFC for classification in 1973. The BBFC considered that the film’s exploitative violence was both attractive and potentially harmful to teenage boys who might seek to copy it. The BBFC classified the film ‘18’ for violence. Even then the film had cuts to remove sight of several dangerous combat techniques which might be easily imitated. Ultimately the BBFC’s decision was criticised from both sides: some felt the film was still too violent, while others objected to the film being cut at all.

Enter the Dragon was re-released in the UK in 1979, but not before being subject to further edits. Public concern at the spread of the use of chainsticks (or nunchaku) among London youths prompted a request by the BBFC to the distributor to remove all sight of the weapons from the film, its trailer and promotional posters. The chainsticks cuts were replicated when Enter the Dragon was classified for video in 1988, although some of the previous theatrical cuts to the violence were restored.

Throughout the 1990s specific concerns about chainsticks declined, while fears about more accessible weapons such as knives grew. In order for its policies to remain in tune with public opinion and concerns the BBFC reviews and adjusts them accordingly. It removed the distinction between martial arts and other weapons in favour of a more context-based approach. Nevertheless, depictions of offensive weapons will continue to be liable to cuts if they have the potential to encourage violent behaviour in the real world. Enter the Dragon was classified ‘18‘ for video with all previous cuts (violence and weapons) restored in 2001.