Birth of the Dragon (2016) Poster

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3/10
Befuddled
Leofwine_draca14 March 2020
Warning: Spoilers
Back in the day I thought the Hollywood Bruce Lee biopic, DRAGON: THE BRUCE LEE STORY was nothing special, but it makes this amateur-hour production look like a masterpiece. BIRTH OF THE DRAGON is a cheap, digital, befuddled affair in which Bruce Lee turns out to be a supporting character in his own movie while other, uninteresting figures steal the limelight. And as for the 'Steve McKee' character...what were they thinking? The Lee accent is correct here, but everything else is wrong, and even worse the cheap plotting allows for silly melodrama and little else. Things only pick up for an action-packed climax, and if there had been more of that earlier on this might have been halfway decent.
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5/10
judge it as a movie
SnoopyStyle11 July 2021
This is a fictionalized historical drama centering around the legendary 1964 fight between Bruce Lee and Shaolin Master Wong Jack Man.

Looking for facts in this movie is fool's gold. That is not the best way to judge this movie. This is not really pretending to be a documentary. Any pretense is thrown out the window when they start floating down to the ground. This movie is almost trying to teach lessons. In that sense, it's done in a ham-fisted way. The dialogue lacks subtlety. Most of the problem lies with Billy Magnussen as Steve McKee. He's playing the clueless white guy. One thing that Magnussen is good at is his unfocused anger acting. So he's good at that part of the character but too much of it is really annoying. It's lazy writing. I am willing to take this version of Bruce Lee since it's a part of a character arc. Basically, this is written by a film student after finishing script-writing 101. It has the playbook but it doesn't implement it well.
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2/10
See it as a fictionalised martial arts film
Prismark108 March 2018
Birth of the Dragon is supposed to be a fictionalised account of a fight between Bruce Lee and a rival sent from China, Wong Jack Man that took place in the mid 1960s.

The trouble is Bruce Lee is presented as an arrogant jerk in this movie and you actually root for Wong Jack Man as he comes across as a wise sage.

Worse, the film wants to concentrate on the love story relating to a fictional side character, Steve McKee who falls for a Chinese girl forced to work for a Triad gang.

Now I understand that the Bruce Lee family did not sanction this film. I frankly do not care if they had no chance to sanitise the film for their own ends. Bruce Lee has been dead for decades and there is room for a warts and all film about him. However this is not it.

The action scenes are actually ok, some of the fight scenes featuring Lee are an homage from other Bruce Lee films. However, if you want to see a Bruce Lee biopic, stick to Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story.
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5/10
I came to wash dishes
nogodnomasters22 September 2017
Warning: Spoilers
This film was "inspired by true events" which means it is as historically correct as an Oliver Stone film. The film centers around the events leading up to a fight between Bruce Lee (Philip Ng) and dishwasher Wong Jack Man (Yu Xia) who is a Grandmaster in his off time. Oh but wait, that would be boring even with the slow motion jump that looked like anti-gravity. So they added a forbidden love story between Steve (Billy Magnussen) from Indiana and a Chinese waitress. Sort of like a Kung-Fu Shakespeare that doesn't work too well. Lee is depicted as a braggart and was not totally likable.

Guide: No swearing, sex, or nudity
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8/10
Fact and Fiction merge
kosmasp5 February 2020
Or get punched together? Now this is not a documentary and this is rather focused on one particular part of Bruce Lees life. Still this takes creative liberties and paints a picture of a not yet fully grown ... Dragon/Bruce Lee. Having said that, it would be weird to have the already ideal version of Bruce Lee and not have the "character" go through stuff.

All in all this is a way better handling of certain "shortcomings" Bruce Lee had in contrast to how he was portrayed in "Once upon a time in Hollywood". Of course the Tarantino movie just focused on the negative character traits he may or may not have had. Anyway, this is solid and the stunt choreography is quite stunning too. So there is a lot to love here, especially if you are a fan of Martial Arts in general and everything about it, you will be more than entertained
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7/10
"...in a fight, a chip on your shoulder is just extra weight."
classicsoncall29 May 2019
Warning: Spoilers
I was surprised to see how unflattering a character Bruce Lee (Philip Ng) was made out to be in this film. He comes across as supremely arrogant and cocky, exactly opposite the way one would consider a Kung Fu master to be. For that reason, a rival in the form of Wong Jack Ma (Yu Xia) is introduced, exhibiting all the characteristics that Lee appears to be lacking. Not that I'm a big Bruce Lee fan, but until this movie, I had never heard about the legendary martial arts contest that was secretly held between these two men. You would think it would be a cornerstone of Lee's legend, and maybe it is for more knowledgeable fans, but it was news to me. Going in I was more than primed to accept the story with appropriate grains of salt, and other reviewers on this board have clearly established as much. If one didn't know any better, and if you were watching the picture unaware of it's title, you would almost think the main character was Wong Jack Ma, as he inspires the viewer with the true spirit and spirituality of Kung Fu. The emphasis on Steve McKee (Billy Magnussen) as the intermediary between the two martial arts masters was probably unnecessary for the story, and as others have mentioned, is a major fictional element in the movie. Considering the passage of time since Lee's death, it would seem to me that a true biopic of the man is more than overdue, without the chopsocky trappings of many of these overwrought fighting spectacles.
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3/10
Insulting look at a martial arts legend
Wizard-82 November 2019
It's easy to see why this movie was slammed by most film critics, raised the ire of the relatives of the real Bruce Lee, and was pretty much ignored by moviegoers at the time of its theatrical release. This movie is a travesty, whether you have some good knowledge of the life of Bruce Lee or not. If you know about Lee, you'll be appalled by how the movie basically ignores what really happened to Lee around the time the events of the movie take place, and that it doesn't give Lee much dimension or exploration. For example, he was married at the point when the events take place, but we never once get to see his wife. Also, unbelievably much of the focus is placed on a fictional Caucasian character instead of Lee himself. This Caucasian character will be insulting to Lee fans or those unfamiliar with him since this character in many ways is portrayed to be a "white savior", helping a pretty Chinese woman who is under the thumb of cruel Chinese gangsters. As for the fight sequences, they are okay at best (which isn't often), and uninspired at their worst. If you want to see a more accurate look at this key event in Bruce Lee's life, I suggest you go to Netflix and watch the Chinese TV series "The Legend of Bruce Lee". Sure, the series is cheap and hokey at times, but it captures the spirit and struggles of Lee much better than this movie.
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5/10
Definitely not a serious biopic of Bruce Lee's life.
Hellmant7 September 2017
'BIRTH OF THE DRAGON': Two and a Half Stars (Out of Five)

A fictional martial arts biopic based on the life of Bruce Lee; which has received a lot of criticism for not being accurate, and whitewashing. The story is set in 1965 San Francisco, when Lee challenged a Kung fu master, and monk (named Wong Jack Man), to a fight. The film also revolves around a fictional white student of Lee's, and his relationships with Lee, Wong Jack Man and a local Chinese woman. The movie stars Philip Ng, Xia Yu and Billy Magnussen. It was directed by George Nolfiand (who also wrote and directed 2011's 'THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU'), and it was written by Christopher Wilkinson and Stephen J. Rivele. It's been poorly received by critics, and fans, due to the liberties it takes with such a beloved true story, and legend (plus the whitewashing accusations). I found it to be a pretty cheesy B-martial arts movie, that doesn't do it's source material justice, but it is also mildly entertaining at times.

The story begins 9-years before the movie 'ENTER THE DRAGON' (the film informs us), in 1965 San Francisco. Bruce Lee (Ng) was becoming a very well known Kung fu teacher, and he was just starting his movie career. Another very well known Kung fu master, and monk, named Wong Jack Man (Yu), comes to town, and Lee expects it's to challenge him and his progressive ways. A fictional student of Lee's, named Steve McKee (Magnussen), who's also white, meets with Wong Jack Man, and asks him to mentor him as well. Lee then asks McKee to invite the famous monk to a Kung fu presentation of his. Once he's there, Lee challenges him to a fight. The film also revolves around McKee's romantic relationship with a local waitress (Jingjing Qu), and problems they have with a local gang.

The fictional white student is the only white character in the movie, and although he has a lot of screen time, he is the least likable and developed lead character in the film. His character is also there in order to demonstrate that Bruce Lee taught white students, and others didn't agree that this was appropriate. So I think the white washing is minimal in this movie (and the actor that plays the white character is the worst actor in the film too). Other than that, the movie is pretty cheesy, and it's definitely not a serious biopic of Bruce Lee's life, but it is entertaining at times. The two lead Asian actors are both good in their roles as well. So I'd only recommend it if you're in the right kind of mood for that type of film.

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7/10
my notes
FeastMode24 July 2019
Warning: Spoilers
I like it a lot. it's not high quality in a sense of a well-made film, but it's an excellent kung fu movie with a good story and great characters. the fight scenes were awesome, although they were a bit scarce. even the non fight scenes where they would practice or show off their moves were fascinating. their motions and movements are art. it was beautiful at time.

i thought the story was going to go in the typical direction for these kinds of movies but it didn't. i also liked that it was in english, not dubbed, english was spoken for most of the movie. i was emotionally invested in the characters and was strongly rooting for them. and a lot of their conversations were intriguing and made me think about kung fu in a way i hadn't before. a lot of movies had similar ideas but didn't make me ponder them the way this movie did. (1 viewing)

SPOILERS

early in the movie it was looking like it would go the traditional route, this is the good guy, this is the bad guy, they fight at the end. but halfway thru the movie i was liking the "bad guy" more than the "good guy." i could see both sides of their arguments. and i wanted both to succeed. their fight was great. it was almost like a twist that Wong Jack Man was only fighting bruce to help him evolve. i also loved the team up and final fight. it was extremely bad-ass. the very different characters played off of each other ridiculously well
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7/10
Without dissecting actual events vs. Hollywood version, this film was still enjoyable
Top_Dawg_Critic7 May 2018
Sure there are added characters and the story is not accurate, but the premise is - the Bruce Lee & Wong Jack Man conflict. And even though the origin of this film has been adapted for a "Hollywood story", I still had difficulty getting past the poor acting. The fight choreography was decent though. A 7/10 from me
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8/10
The Fight of the Century!
GOWBTW1 September 2017
Bruce Lee(Philip Ng), is a legendary martial arts master. Quick, swift, efficient, and downright amazing in his art. However, a Buddhist monk named Wong Jack Man (Xia Yu), who traveled to San Francisco to challenge Lee. Wong came to San Francisco because Lee was teaching Kung Fu to non-Chinese. Bruce Lee was teaching this technique to them because he wants the everyone to know what the martial arts are like. Since martial arts are passed down from generation to generation, teaching outsiders was considered a violation. Bruce Lee made that change. So when Lee and Wong battle it out, it was an all-out brawl. But Wong wanted to keep it, simple. Though no absolute winner was declared, Lee's student Steve McKee(Bill Magnussen) made it personal for himself. I enjoyed the movie for myself. Rather silly than serious. The fighting in the scenes wasn't that bad. Though one character was made up, it was nice he was ever to help out someone that he cared for. "Dragon, The Bruce Lee Story", is a starter for those who want to hear the story of his life. This one is like a starter for his way of transformation of Kung Fu. Good for a rainy day. 2 out of 5 stars.
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4/10
I guess it's for those of us who still love Bruce (who else could enjoy this?)
subxerogravity25 August 2017
Yeah, it's the best movie on the planet if you love Bruce Lee like that, but the WWF film is as corny as Monday Nitro.  It has a very old school kung fu feel to it that makes you like it if you are a fan of those badly dubbed masterpieces. Plus it's about Bruce Lee, the greatest of all time. You can't help but to cheer when Bruce does one of his feats of strength.

I have to say, I like Jason Scott Lee's version of Bruce Lee better from Dragon : The Bruce Lee Story, but give this other guy playing Bruce a fair shake. It was a real good character of Mr. Lee that showcases an obnoxious attitude so impervious that it would make the late Great Muhammad Ali take a step back, but it was just that. No acting required just some guy who watched Enter the Dragon one too many times. Birth of the Dragon is also not a biopic. It's about one specific time in Bruce Lee's life just before he became famous.

Now I knew that Bruce Lee had issues showcasing his skills because his countrymen back home did not want him to show the White man how to gentrify the art form, but the guy he faces in the movie, Wong Jack man,  does not ring a bell, and I never herd of this battle before. Not that it really matters cause a movie about Bruce Lee is always about the myth not really the legend.

But anyway, It's another story about  Bruce Lee, that seems more based on the stories we tell rather than the actual man, and the film is built to pay homage to that. Does a cornball job of it.
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7/10
Good Fight Scenes
stevendbeard25 August 2017
Warning: Spoilers
I saw "Birth of the Dragon", starring-mostly Chinese actors, with one Caucasian thrown into the mix-Philip Ng-The Man From Macau, New Police Story; Yu Xia-Bull Brothers, Dragon Squad and Billy Magnussen-Bridge of Spies, Into the Woods.

I must admit, I am a big Bruce Lee fan. This is based loosely on an article written by Michael Dorgan called 'Bruce Lee's Toughest Fight'. When Bruce Lee first came to San Francisco in the early 1960's-and before he became famous-there was a fight between him and a Shaolin Kung Fu monk that supposedly changed people's lives, both his and the monk's. Bruce had opened a martial arts school and taught anyone that wanted to learn. Most of the Chinese martial artist did not like Bruce teaching non-Asians and let him know it-usually by getting into fights. Wong Jack Man was a Shaolin master that came to San Francisco for reasons of his own, but ended up getting into the legendary fight with the up and coming Bruce Lee in an abandoned warehouse that only about a dozen people witnessed. Philip plays Bruce and Yu plays Wong. Billy plays one of Bruce's students-the lone Caucasian in the film- that is based loosely on one of Bruce's real life students, Steve McQueen. Here, he is called Steve McKee and in my opinion, he could have been left out of the movie-he had a side story that was not that interesting. The actual fight is pretty good with both men getting some lumps as well as giving some-it wasn't lopsided in either man's favor. After this fight, Bruce developed his own fighting style, Jeet Kune Do, which in itself is the forefather of mixed martial arts. It's rated "PG-13" for martial arts violence and language and has a running time of 1 hour & 43 minutes. I enjoyed the fight scenes and I would buy this one on DVD.
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9/10
This story takes place back in the 1900s, when Kato . . .
tadpole-596-91825630 August 2017
Warning: Spoilers
. . . was more famous for kick-boxing as THE GREEN HORNET's version of "Tonto" than for being O.J.'s house guest. The main point of BIRTH OF THE DRAGON is that no matter how good you are at "one-inch punches," you cannot kill anybody (who doesn't already have a couple feet in the grave with Aortal Aneurysms, Brain Tumors, and the like) using the so-called martial arts. "In the Land of Kung Fu, any joker with a hunting knife or a .22 is King," as Kato later told O.J. many times. Obviously, Mr. Heisman took this lesson to heart, and the rest is History. Though many viewers may find BIRTH OF THE DRAGON to be trite, predictable, and boring, I think it deserves a rating of "9" because it bears out so many of Our Leader Trump's Basic Truths. For instance, when "Wong Jack Man" steps off his slow boat from China at Sanctuary City San Francisco, he's shown to be in the middle of a Sea of Totally Unvetted Illegal Aliens, thanks to Bleeding Heart LBJ's lax "immigration" policies. Foreign thugs such as BIRTH OF THE DRAGON's Auntie Blossom and Mr. Lo will NEVER become Dangerous Crime Lords under Leader Trump's Watch!
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3/10
No this is not the movie which can describe the 'Legend'
sauravjoshi8528 September 2020
Birth of the Dragon is an action movie directed by George Nolfi and stars Philip NG, Xia Yu, Billy Magnussen and Jingjing Qu.

The movie is a pure insult to the legend Late Bruce Lee. The movie depicts Lee as arrogant and brash but whatever I had heard or read about the great legend is totally opposite. The movie is a baseless attempt and the movie don't even close to capture the charisma of the legend.

Action is the strongest talking point of the movie and Philips NG has done some spectacular actions. Xia was also impressive in his character. Billy Magnussen was just average and it seems that the baseless and unnecessary love story of him with Jingjing is only to give some base.

Screenplay of the movie is average and has some flaws in it. Direction is average and climax is good. Cinematography is superb and 1960s San Francisco is been captured beautifully.

Overall this is not a movie which can describe even 01% of the stature of the legend. Martial arts lovers can like the movie.
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10/10
WOW: was I was pleasantly surprised.
jewelch16 November 2020
WOW was I ever surprised, this was very good and the acting was amazing, Yes I highly recommend it. James Welch Henderson, Arkansas 11/15/2020
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8/10
Unfair attacks, much better than people say
guisreis4 April 2021
Nice action film with good fight scenes and two parallel and interwined stories: the rivalry between Bruce Lee (and his self-knowledge path) and Wong Jack Man (and his atonement towards reaching inner peace), and the mission of a white kung-fu student to free a beautiful slave of local Chinatown mob (and also his learning). The movie has been harshly criticized as brainwashing, due the importance of the white character McKee in the story, and as historically inaccurate. Honestly, it is not fair. At least in its final cut (I know many scenes with him have been deleted), the movie does not have McKee as the leading role, being both Bruce Lee and Wong Jack Man at least as important as him, and probably more. Besided that, even if he were the main character it would not deviate from most Hollywood productions referred to Eastern cultures. On inaccuracy, neither real story is uncontroversial, nor it is a rare case of ficcional events added due artistic needs. As a matter of fact, I believe that spread disappointment comes from elsewhere: the unsatisfied expectation of having a whole story centered in an idealized Bruce Lee. Indeed, it is not, and I consider the script as more interesting than that. Here, Bruce Lee is arrogant and vain, before completing his character arc and becoming a better and more balanced person. That character can reminds (differently from this fictionalized Wong Jack Man) a mix of Cobra Kai Sensei Kreese and boxer Floyd Mayweather. To resume, story works, and it obviously semi-biographical. If you want to know what is the only real (although not serious) problem of the movie, it is portraying a dangerous and powerful mob in which gangsters (almost) do not use guns! If you like martial arts films, this worth be watched. There is no flaw that you will not see in other movies from this genre, and its qualities overcome it.
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5/10
A martial arts philosophy lesson that wants to be a film.....
s327616929 November 2017
Bruce Lee is probably the best known martial artist of the 20th century. In my opinion (which is by no means uninformed) this was accomplished through a combination of physical skill, personal intellect, unique timing and capable self promotion.

This film takes an early encounter in Lee's road to martial movie stardom and heavily embellishes it. Little was really known about the encounter between Bruce Lee and Wong Jack Man as there were few spectators to the exchange. What we get is a story of martial "enlightenment" but really its rather superficial fare that fizzles and never really inspires.

Its cause is not helped by a contrived "good Samaritan helps Romeo and Juliet side story that really only serves to further drag this film from its martial focus.

The result is a film that is conspicuously lacking in action and pace with a rather diffuse message about the spiritual and ethical side of martial arts. Five out of ten from me.
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3/10
Give me a break!
TheOneThatYouWanted13 September 2020
The stupid fight is famous for being a joke! Multiple witnesses have stated that 80% of the fight was Bruce Lee running after Jack Man. There is a reason why Jack Man didn't want a lot of people watching the fight but maybe if they did, Hollywood wouldn't give us this BS and try to rewrite history for whatever reason. As far as the film goes, it is more than forgettable and not worth your time.
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4/10
Bad film but better than Judwaa 2......
Takethispunch29 September 2017
Set against the backdrop of 1960s San Francisco, BIRTH OF THE DRAGON is a modern take on the classic movies that Bruce Lee was known for. It takes its inspiration from the epic and still controversial showdown between an up-and-coming Bruce Lee and karate master Wong Jack Man - a battle that gave birth to a legend.
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3/10
You just CANNOT make a biopic on Bruce Lee and relegate him to a supporting character! [+31%]
arungeorge139 November 2017
George Nolfi (co-writer for a few box- office biggies like 'Ocean's Twelve', 'The Bourne Ultimatum' apart from directing 'The Adjustment Bureau') works on a screenplay penned by the duo of Stephen J Rivele & Christopher Wilkinson (known for cooking up the scripts for reasonably fine biopics such as 'Ali', 'Nixon' and 'Pawn Sacrifice') in a film that wishes to shed light on the showdown between Bruce Lee (long before he became an action hero, and played in this film by Philip NG) and Wong Jack Man (played by Xia Yu).

When the plate already seems stuffed with sufficient ingredients (i.e. the build-up for the fight between the two icons), Nolfi and his writer duo feel the need to thrust a fictitious (and completely bland) white-American character by the name of Steve McKee (played by Billy Magnussen) down the viewers' throats so as to drive the story forward. McKee is in love with a Chinese waitress who is apparently under the wing of the Triads and seeks the aid of both Lee and Wong to free her.

Nolfi's vision is the exact opposite of what made most Bruce Lee films so enthralling: his set-pieces look thoroughly staged and appear way less improvised (unlike the uber-realistic fights we've seen Lee be a part of), that play out more like expensive advertisements for the art of Kung Fu than conveying the proper essence. The love-story itself is too bland to be bought into. Firstly, the viewer is more interested in nose-diving into the soul of Bruce Lee, his evolution into a Hollywood legend and how the fight with Wong brings about a change of attitude in him - barely any exposition given on these aspects. Secondly, the love-birds are both badly written - they just don't fit into this movie at all. No one's interested to know the fates of these non-existent characters, especially when we're handed negligible insight into Lee's personal life (we don't even get a glimpse of his wife Linda).

The baddies (Auntie Blossom and another aged gangster) are also as terrible as they come - they talk and act like they're on 'gangster- autopilot'. We even get a tease of the 'Raid' films where the protagonists 'fight their way through' to the bosses. The costumes, hairstyles and slangs don't always appear like they're from the '60s. 'Birth of the Dragon' is a (complete) mess from head to toe with very few high-points to speak of. Wong Jack Man though, is quite safe in the hands of a restrained Xia Yu while the rest of the ensemble fail to leave an impression.

At the end of the day, one just cannot make (even) a (semi)biopic on a legend like Bruce Lee and let him be seen through a crappy white character whose sole interest is just to save his girlfriend from the bad guys. Hollywood better take note of this film's eventual failure (and Shannon Lee's distancing from this venture) as an indication that white-washing never makes flicks based on real incidents, emerge any better. In fact, it simply makes them look downright pathetic.

Verdict: Definitely not the Bruce Lee biopic we were waiting for!
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5/10
Good and bad
drjgardner25 August 2017
This film has a lot of problems, the main one being the guy who plays Bruce Lee. In 1963 (when the film takes place) Lee was a 23 year old kid who looked even younger than he was. The guy in this film is 40 years old and looks more like Bruce Lee just before he died. Also, while his Kung Fu is OK, he's no Bruce Lee. Of course, no one is Bruce Lee so that shouldn't be held against him.

The film also spends a lot of time on a white guy named Steve, who I guess is supposed to be Steve McQueen, but in 1963 Steve McQueen was a pretty big movie star, and this Steve is clearly not. And who goes to a Bruce Lee film to see a love story about some white guy?

Now, put all that aside and sit back and enjoy the martial arts of Yu Xia who plays legendary Master Wong Jack Man. He is simply amazing.
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7/10
"Birth of the Dragon" is an entertaining piece of biopic fiction.
dave-mcclain3 September 2017
Like many famous people, the experiences of martial arts icon Bruce Lee before he became famous are not well-known, but are crucial to understanding the person he became. The man the world came to know as Bruce Lee was born Lee Jun-fat in San Francisco on November 27, 1940, in the Chinese "Year of the Dragon". His father was a Chinese opera star who was touring the U.S. at the time, but took his family back to their native Hong Kong shortly before Japan invaded. After World War II ended, Lee's father resumed his earlier film career and Bruce began appearing on screen as a child actor. As he continued making movies, Bruce also began learning Chinese martial arts, first from his father and then from the famous Wing Chun master teacher Yip Man. Bruce was getting into a lot of street fights, which he usually won, but when he was 18, amid rumored threats to his life, his parents sent him to live with his older sister in San Francisco. Just months later, Lee moved to Seattle where he finished high school, went to college and began teaching martial arts, eventually opening his own studio. When he was 23, he moved to Oakland, California to live with locally famous martial artist James Yimm Lee, with whom he opened his second studio. Bruce himself became well-known throughout the Bay Area and beyond. He sought ways to increase the momentum of his martial arts career and to translate that into a show business career. He also began to evolve as a martial artist. This is the period of Bruce Lee's life that is chronicled (and fictionalized) in the 2017 martial arts action movie "Birth of the Dragon" (PG-13, 1:43).

In 1964, Bruce Lee (Philip Ng) is a skilled and cocky master teacher running his own Bay Area martial arts studio. He also has some of his students appear in crude Kung Fu movies which Lee produces, directs, writes and stars in. Lee is a controversial figure, both in central California and even back in Asia for his teaching emphasis on "kicking ass" over spirituality, for turning Kung Fu into mass entertainment and (especially) for teaching Caucasians. One of those students is Steve McKee (Billy Magnussen, playing a fictionalized version of actor Steve McQueen, a real-life student of Lee's). Steve is a promising student, but increasingly has doubts about Lee's philosophy and whether Lee can help him reach his potential.

And then Lee learns that a famous Chinese martial artist Wong Jack Man (Yu Xia) is coming to San Francisco, but isn't sure why. He thinks it's because Wong wants to spy on him. Or maybe Wong wants to punish Lee for teaching Kung Fu to whites. Either way, Lee is unswayed and unafraid. Steve's attitude is different, however. He is intrigued by the new arrival and eventually gravitates to Wong and his more spiritual approach to life – and Kung Fu – and tries to persuade the master to take him on as a student. Meanwhile, Steve becomes an intermediary between Lee and Wong, delivering messages between the two rivals as they challenge each other and then negotiate the terms of one decisive, high-stakes fight.

This is where the veracity of the film's story gets even murkier. The set-up for this battle royale involves a fictional young Chinese woman named Xiulan (Jingjing Qu). She, as many others like her, was brought to the U.S. by a Chinese crime lord called Auntie Blossom (Jin Xing) who forces these girls into servitude – sometimes of the domestic variety – and sometimes in one of her "houses". Steve falls in love with Xiulan and wants to free her from her virtual slavery. Xiulan's fate becomes part of the motivation for the Lee-Wong match. Such a fight between the two men did actually take place, but it happened indoors, it was not filmed and there were relatively few witnesses. Consequently, reports of the fight – from how long it lasted to who won – have varied widely from the very beginning and remain a source of controversy to this day. The movie's portrayal of the fight is very entertaining and it does take sides in how it shows the fight playing out, but the actual fight sequence and its aftermath in the film's story can only be viewed from the perspective of significant creative license. However, one aspect of the fight's result does stand on its own merits. That being the significant impact the fight had on Lee's continuing rise to fame and on his style as a martial artist. No spoilers here, but you can read all about it online.

"Birth of the Dragon" is an entertaining piece of biopic fiction. But Movie Fans' reactions will depend on how they view the large amount of fictionalization in the story (including forcing that story into a recognizable Hollywood formula) – and what they think of how the climactic fight is portrayed. Based on Michael Dorgan's article, "Bruce Lee's Toughest Fight", screen writing partners (and Oscar nominees) Stephen J. Rivele and Christopher Wilkinson ("Nixon", "Ali", "Pawn Sacrifice") and director George Nolfi ("The Adjustment Bureau") give us an interesting version of actual events. Action movie and martial arts fans will likely be entertained, while dedicated Bruce Lee fans will probably be intrigued, if nothing else. (Although some will find the emphasis on Steve McKee's character unnecessarily distracting). Through the pleasing efforts of the filmmakers, the serviceable acting of the supporting cast and the fairly strong performances of Phillip Ng, Yu Xia and Billy Rasmussen, Movie Fans get an unspectacular, but enjoyable story which reveals at least some truths about the rise of one of the greatest and most influential martial artists of all time. "B+"
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4/10
Skip This Movie And Watch This One: The 36th Chamber of Shaolin(also has sequel Return To The 36th Chamber). Much better entertainment.
Vivekmaru4515 November 2017
I also recommend you watch the Ip Man Trilogy(2008-2010-2015) and also The Hammer of God (1970), One-Armed Boxer (1972) and The One-Armed Swordsman (1967).

Okay let's review this film. It deals with a cult status martial artist who is the greatest icon of martial arts cinema and a key figure of modern popular media. Had it not been for Bruce Lee and his movies in the early 1970s, it's arguable whether or not the martial arts film genre would have ever penetrated and influenced mainstream North American and European cinema and audiences the way it has over the past four decades.

Lee rose to fame internationally with Enter the Dragon(1973) and earlier mainstream Hong Kong movies: The Big Boss(1971), The Way of the Dragon & The Chinese Connection(1972). The Game of Death(originally 1972), his last film was was released in 1978, five years after Lee's death.

In Birth Of The Dragon, Shaolin monk and Tai Chi master Wong Jack Man arrives at San Francisco to quietly observe Lee. But one of Lee's students called Steve goes to meet him as soon as his ship docks at the harbor. However Wong Jack Man does not want to confront Lee in the hopes of a duel. However circumstances arise that causes a match between the two.

See the film and find out the outcome of the duel between Wong Jack Man and Bruce Lee...

George Nolfi does an average job at direction. I have seen better martial arts movies. Amir Mokri handles the camera well. Amir is a seasoned cinematographer with movies like Lord Of War(2005) and Man of Steel(2013) among others. Reza Safinia and H. Scott Salinas handle the music well.

Verdict: fight sequences are meager. There is an underlying love story between Lee's student Steve and a Chinese girl which fills a large part of the film. The duel between Wong Jack Man and Lee is very short and very poorly choreographed. We don't see anything of Lee's side of life other than his teaching students and a brief cameo where he acts for a movie. I consider this film a toilet paper type film(flush and go).

You may also like: Drunken Master(1978), Bloodfight(1989), Shaolin Soccer(2001). There are so many good movies but I can't name all of them. These movies are a good guide.

Thank you for reading my review, live long and prosper.
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8/10
However inaccurate, this was fun
PsychoBeard66628 November 2019
This depiction of the infamously vague fight that took place is pretty much pure fantasy, but I really enjoyed the film in spite of this.

The fight scenes were good and the story was easy and linear so not too taxing for an early morning viewing.

I understand the frustrations RE: Bruce Lee's character in this film, but creative license has been taken all over the place so just try to enjoy the ride
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