Review: Birth of the Dragon

If you are seeking a good Martial Arts movie to fill your afternoon, check out the Brue Lee inspired fil, Birth of the Dragon staring Philip Ng.  The film is based on true events around the 1960’s when Bruce Lee was establishing himself as a superstar in film and growing ever popular in the Martial Arts circles.  As Bruce is solitifiing the start of his legacy, San Franciso is visited by Kung Fu master Wong Jack Man; how is in America to witness Kung Fu state side.  The two powerhouses was destined to meet and ultimately conclude in a fight that to this day is still rattled in controversy.

The film is an honest protrayel of Bruce Lee, showing not just the aragent brazen side of his character, but also a deep inner resolve of who the man was as a Martial Artist and mentor to his early students.  There is no doubt Bruce had a much different philophsey than the traditional brought by Wong Jack Man, portrayed by actor Yu Xia.  One of the underlying themes of the film that actually make it so great is that Bruce not only learns from Wong, but Wong learns from Bruce.  The struggle for a young Bruce Lee, who is building a career in film and reputation actually recognizing the threat someone such as Wong brings him in destroying everything he has worked for is a compelling story arc.

In the film we are introduced to Steve McKee, who ends up being the binding force who brings these two Masters together.  As the film progresses, the inventible showdown between Bruce and Wong takes place in a closed area where the two fight to a draw, with no clear winner.  This is a problem for Auntie Blossom, the local gangster who has negotiated millions in bets on the fight.  In exchange for Steve arranging the two for the fight, Blossom agrees to let his love interest, Xiulan, free of her obligation to the gangster for smuggling her into the country.  when no winner is declared, Steve decides to take matters into his own hands and attempts to rescue Xiulan himself.  This causes both Bruce and Wong to put their differences aside and not only rescue their friend Steve, but to free all the girls indebted to the Auntie Blossom.  By the end of the rescue, it is agreed that Bruce is to be declared the winner of the contest, and in doing so Bruce makes the gangster agree to release all the girls.  Wong travels back to China, and Bruce goes onto becoming the legend we all know of today.

Overall the film is a fun look into the world of Bruce Lee, surrounded by some over the top Martial Arts cinema that you can’t help but love.  Doth Xia and Ng do an amazing job portraying their characters and this goes a long way to making the film enjoyable.  If you objectively look at the history of Bruce Lee, no matter what you believe actually happened in the real fight, there can be no doubt this experience in his life fundamentally changed his outlook on fighting and what Martial Arts could be.  Granted the film takes a lot of liberties, and it is doubtful these two were so nice to each other in real life, but you do have to give props to the filmmakers so adding in a lot of great moments for Bruce Lee fans.  We will not spoil them here but if you know anything about Bruce Lee films, and pay close attention, we will see many moments that pay tribute to the “soon to come” Lee films that might have been expired by this experience in his life.

We at 812review recommend Birth of the Dragon for anyone looking for a great film with fantastic Martial Arts action.  Let us know your thoughts about the film in the comments below.





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