WWE Studios screened the long-awaited Bruce Lee flick Birth of the Dragon in Hollywood with some heavy expectations in tow. The film is set in San Francisco in the 1960s and focuses on Lee’s epic battle with Kung Fu Master Wong Jack Man.
This is the first major biographical film about Hollywood’s most enduring action hero. The pressure on the studio to nail this couldn’t be greater.
Well, they damn near nail it with this cool yet frenetic take on Lee’s pre-fame years. It’s directed by George Nolfi (The Adjustment Bureau) and features some of the best hand-to-foot fight scenes of the last decade.
The film picks up with Lee -played by the magnetic Philip Ng – teaching America Kung Fu students at a fledgling martial arts studio – a practice that garners the ire of Wong Jack Man.
Jack Man thinks Lee and the Americans are bastardizing and exploiting a sacred cultural practice and so travels to San Francisco to keep tabs on Lee. We also learn that Jack Man has a dark secret – one that he’s desperate to atone for.
The movie’s B story centers on Lee’s most promising and hot-headed student, Steve McKee, played by the capable and steely-eyed Billy Magnussen. Lee drives a lot of the film’s action, playing intermediary between Lee and Jack Man.
Tension between Lee and Jack Man is damn-near tangible from their first meeting. Lee the arrogant upstart, Jack Man the seasoned and bitter old guard, meet at a martial arts tournament and almost fight on the spot.
‘Dragon’ builds to a deeply satisfying climax. These kung fu legends fight for a full 12 minutes, making this one of the most ambitious fight sequences in recent memory.
The movie premieres August 25th – check it out if you like flashy fight sequences and fast-paced storytelling.