So there's this Bruce Lee movie that's been in the works for a while. Birth of a Dragon is a "biopic" of sorts, inspired by Lee's infamous Chinatown fight with Master Wong Jack Man. And now, the project has found its Bruce Lee. The legendary martial artist will be played by Hong Kong-born actor Philip Ng.
Philip Ng cast as Bruce Lee in Birth of the Dragon
According to Entertainment Weekly, Ng will play Lee, while Chinese actor Yu Xia will play rival Wong Jack Man. As legend has it, the two martial artists fought in a real-life confrontation in Oakland in 1965. Details about the duel -- including why they fought and who actually won -- have been debated for decades, but Lee's family credits the fight for sparking the development of the philosophy that would eventually become Jeet Kune Do.
Birth of the Dragon will be told from the perspective of Steve McKee. Wait, who the hell is that?
Steve McKee, played by Billy Magnussen -- because, you know, there's always inexplicably gotta be a white dude in the mix -- is a fictional young martial artist whose allegiance is torn between the two combatants. According to previous reports about the plot, McKee ultimately joins forces with Lee and Wong to battle a vicious band of Chinatown gangsters.
So, um, yeah. This movie is going to be playing it kind of loose with the facts.
The 1965 fight has already been fodder for considerable mythmaking over the years. You might remember Jason Scott Lee's turn as Bruce Lee in 1993's Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, which dramatized its own version of the duel. Instead of Wong Jack Man, Dragon's Bruce fought a bad dude named Johnny Sun in some kind of dark Chinatown dungeon arena thing. It's highly entertaining, but pretty much a large load of bullshit.
Here's the scene:
George Nolfi will direct from a script by Christopher Wilkinson and Stephen J. Rivele. In addition, Chinese actress Jinging Qu will play Xiulan, the love interest of Steve McKee (ah yes, of course) and Jin Xing will portray a crime boss. Principal photography begins this week in Vancouver.
This is probably going to be kind of ridiculous, but what the hell.
More here: Philip Ng Cast as Bruce Lee in 'Birth of the Dragon'