The official release of the ‘Birth of the Dragon’ Bruce Lee movie is now out in theaters. We had a chance to attend the press conference and private screening. During the press conference located at the Chinese Hospital in San Francisco (where Bruce Lee was born), we had the chance to listen to Director George Nolfi and actor Phliip Ng discuss key topics on the film.
The film, which was released last year at the Toronto International Film Festival, received some controversy and backlash about how the movie doesn’t accurately tell the story of Bruce Lee’s life and the big fight that happened with Wong Jack Man in 1964. People were also upset that the movie focused on a white guy named Steve McKee, which played one of Bruce Lee’s students.
During the press conference, Nolfi addressed that the film was not a biopic and that it was a more of a fun fan-fiction Kung Fu action movie. Ng also added that the film is similar to Hong Kong films like “Once Upon a Time in China” and “IP Man”.
They discussed the challenges of making the film look like how it’s supposed to look in the 1960’s. Philip even had a chance to demonstrate some martial arts on one of his students.
Before watching the film, we were unsure what to expect, especially after hearing how Shannon Lee doesn’t approve of the film and that it was re-edited due to the feedback it received.
The film opened up with shots of Wong Jack Man and Shaolin monks training and practicing Kung Fu. The story then transitioned into San Francisco where Bruce Lee was introduced at his martial arts gym where he teaches and trains.
What we liked about the film was the overall action, cinematography, and fight scenes. The shots, angles and camera movements were all done very well.
In our opinion, Ng and Yu did an awesome job playing Bruce Lee and Wong Jack Man. The martial arts and fight sequences were done really well and replicated their movements quite nicely. The main thing that stuck out and was somewhat of an annoyance was the acting by Ng could have been toned down a bit with the arrogance and cockiness.
The overall story was also written in a very cliche way about the white guy that goes out of his way to save the enslaved Asian girl and winning her freedom. At times, it was unclear whether the movie was even about Lee. We needed to see more Kung Fu action and less of Mckee crying about the girl he was in love with.
Bruce Lee is an icon and legend of Kung Fu and movie history, and this film lacked the proper treatment and tribute to him. Overall, if we were to rate this film on a scale of 1-10, we’d give it a 6 because of the great cinematography and action scenes that kept it engaging to watch.
If you’re looking for a fun action film to kill some time, Birth of the Dragon would be it.
The film is in theaters now. Check your local theater listings for times to see this movie for yourself.