Loosely inspired by true events, Birth of the Dragon puts a fictional spin on the events surrounding the infamous fight between a young Bruce Lee and martial arts master Wong Jack Man in 1960s San Francisco. Fun, fast and full of fights, the film is a must-watch for fans of Bruce Lee and martial arts alike.
In the world of martial arts, there is one man above all: Bruce Lee. San Francisco, 1965. Young, hungry and looking for an opportunity to make a name for himself, Lee (Philip Ng) challengeslegendary Shaolin monk and kung fu master, Wong Jack Man (Xia Yu), to a fight when he hears that he’s crossing the Pacific to observe the state of kung fu in America. Their legendary fight would change the history of martial arts forever.
The 1965 fight between Bruce Lee and Wong Jack Man is infamous largely due to the fact it was played out in private in front of a handful of individuals. Accounts of what actually happened differ greatly (some say it lasted three minutes, others say 20, for instance) but all are agreed that Lee came out on top and that it helped give birth to his martial arts legend status.
It’s no surprise then, that Birth of the Dragon chooses to focus on this episode from Bruce Lee’s life. Not only does it provide opportunity for some creative freedom (the film is only loosely based on the true events surrounding the fight), but also to show off plenty of Lee’s trademark fighting styles. And in this respect especially, Philip Ng excels as Lee. A master of the martial arts himself, he handles the fight scenes with aplomb and is always captivating as the charismatic future kung fu star.
A must for fans of Bruce Lee, kung fu films and students of martial arts, Birth of the Dragon gives a fascinating portrayal of Lee’s younger years and his defining moment.
George Nolfi (The Adjustment Bureau)
Stephen J. Rivele & Christopher Wilkinson (Ali, Nixon)
Philip Ng (TV’s A Fist Within Four Walls, Invisible Target, New Police Story)
Xia Yu (In the Heat of the Sun, The Painted Veil)
Billy Magnussen (Into the Woods, Bridge of Spies)