This morning, Deadline unveiled the first trailer for Birth of the Dragon, which recently made its debut at the Toronto International Film Festival. Ostensibly, the film depicts the legendary fight between Bruce Lee (played by Philip Ng) and Wong Jack Man (Yu Xia). But because this is Hollywood, the movie is going to be told from the perspective of a white dude.
Billy Magnussen plays Steve McKie (basically, Steve McQueen), one of Lee’s students and the one who brings Lee and Wong together. Apparently? Basically, Bruce Lee v Wong Jack Man: Dawn of Jeet Kune Do is just the backdrop for a film described as:
...a San Francisco-set coming-of-age story involving a rough and tumble young white man who matches the feuding fighting legends in the brawl as he pursues a Romeo and Juliet romance with a young Chinese immigrant [JingJing Qu] under the control of the Chinese mob.
Because no one wants to go see a movie in which Bruce Lee battles a legendary martial artist, we have to be stuck with another white savior story? This whole thing reminds me of the lead up to another film featuring a legendary battle between kung fu icons. In 2008, Lionsgate released Forbidden Kingdom, which featured the first time Jet Li and Jackie Chan were in the same movie. And just like Birth of the Dragon, the filmmakers just had to put a white dude in as the audience’s surrogate.
Rather than waste any more headspace on this disaster of a bio-pic (which is a shame because Philip Ng looks to be an excellent Bruce) I’m just going to repost an essay I wrote for Rice Daddies eight years ago that is, sadly, still relevant today.
Read the rest of this post at The Nerds of Color.