Bruce Lee lived an exciting life that flamed out way too early. Many movies have been made about various things he experienced during his climb to stardom, but few actually present a definitive version of events. That's because even now, 43 years after his death, so much of Lee's life remains a mystery or has ascended to mythological status. One such event was his 1964 fight with Wong Jack Man, recounted in the new film by The Adjustment Bureau's George Nolfi, Birth of the Dragon, which just premiered at TIFF and has a new trailer.
The cause of the fight with Wong has been disputed for years. Some say it was brought about due to Lee's insistence on teaching martial arts to Caucasians in San Francisco, which the Chinese did not like. Wong and others insist it was the answer to a challenge that had been put forth by Lee, claiming he could defeat any martial arts master. Whatever the case, Birth of the Dragon uses the fight to tell a totally fictional story about young white kung fu student (Billy Magnussen) who falls in love with a Chinese immigrant tied to the mob.
The private battle between Lee (played by Philip Ng) and Shaolin monk Wong Jack Man (Yu Xia) is rightfully the centerpiece of this footage, and the action does look very well choreographed. Although I find it odd to boast that it's from the "martial arts team behind X-Men". Was there much martial arts action in the X-Men movies? I must've missed that. Based on the review from my buddy Christopher Bumbray it sounds like the fight definitely takes a backseat, which is unfortunate. I kinda wish people would stop trying to make movies about Bruce Lee because nobody has pulled off a good one yet. Well, Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story is okay I guess. We'll let you know when Birth of the Dragon nails down a release date.