With an August 25 release in tow for director George Nolfi’s hotly-contested martial arts action drama, Birth Of The Dragon, the marketing is moving in hard and heavy in its remaining days. As such, and if you’ve been keeping up, that means targeting the exact audience the film is now aiming for in the wake of critical feedback from earlier screenings.
Personally, being an Ip fan, I would have been okay with that were it not for the fact that Groundswell Productions had been pushing it as a film based on a real-world event long before cameras were rolling, and now with the film’s star, actor and martial artist Phillip Ng, expressing his own wish to do the late film and martial arts legend justice. Needless to say, messaging made all the difference here and the messaging was pretty poor, and it’s unfortunate.
That moment was the very fight between fledgeling action film hero Bruce Lee and Shaolin martial artist Wong Jack Man, etched in history as a fight between two distinct ideologies for which the outcome remains a recorded mystery to date. Front and center is American-born Hong Kong actor and martial artist Phillip Ng (Once Upon A Time In Shanghai) making his Hollywood debut opposite actor Yu Xia (Mojin: The Lost Legend) – both starring in the respective roles for the film’s epic fight narrative as presented by the role of Lee’s disciple played by actor Billy Magnussen who narrates the events setting into 1960’s Oakland, California – and much to the chagrin of fans dissenting.
Director George Nolfi’s most recent attempt at contributing to the fanfare and legacy of late martial arts star, actor and Jeet Kune Do founder Bruce Lee with Birth Of The Dragon, has been met with some of the heaviest criticisms since its TIFF premiere late last year. For this it may come to no surprise to those paying attention that the most vociferous opponent of the film to date is Lee’s own daughter, Shannon Lee who has since taken the mantle at enterprising in her father’s name, as well as advancing an authorized rival biopic of her own which is set to shoot in Malaysia this summer.
For now though, while the film may tell a different tale, there’s no love lost for actor and martial artist Phillip Ng (Invisible Target, Once Upon A Time In Shanghai, upcoming Undercover VS. Undercover). The Hong Kong-born, U.S. grown rising action star will essentially be making his American theatrical debut here in the title role. The film has since landed a distributor as of Feburary and, as of this week, will have a public jury of its own with a release date officially stamped for August 25, 2017, courtesy of OTL Releasing and BH Tilt/WWE Studios, according to Deadline. The film is written by Steven J. Rivele and Christopher Wilkinson who also produced with Michael London and Janice Williams for Groundswell Productions, and Kylin Pictures’s James Hong Pang and Leo Shi Young, and action sequences by Corey Yuen Kwai.
At a time when the 1960s counterculture was in full swing in San Francisco, Lee (played by Philip Ng) was a rebel of his own, teaching his own type of martial arts to non-Chinese despite his community frowning upon it. A young actor by the name of Steven McKee (Billy Magnussen) becomes a pupil of Lee’s, who in turn is fascinated by his new student’s line of work. However, kung-fu master Wong Jack Man is sent from China to stop Lee’s heretical ways, soon giving birth to a legend.
Rounding out the cast are Xia Yu in the on-screen persona of Lee’s real-life opponent Wong Jack Man, along with Jin Xing, Jingjing Qu and Simon Yin.
Stay tuned for an official trailer.
Action star and actor Philip Ng’s latest, Undercover VS Undercover, is readying for market sales this year and with any luck we’ll see some footage that covers a few ends. In the meantime, fans can finally expect some more movement regarding his American debut in the lead role of director George Nolfi’s Bruce Lee biopic, Birth Of The Dragon, which premiered at TIFF last year.
Word via Deadline has it that WWE Studios and Blumhouse’s BH Tilt banner have acquired the film North American theatrical release. Adapted for the screen by Stephen J. Rivele and Christopher Wilkinson from a narrative inspired by Michael Dorgan’s 1980 Official Karate Article, “Bruce Lee’s Toughest Fight”, and action sequences stylized by Corey Yuen, Ng stars as the late film legend who, while in his heyday as an aspring teacher and film star, takes in Steve McKee – played by Billy Magnussen – as one of his students. Between Lee’s brewing tension with repentant Kung Fu master Wong Jack Man, played by actor Xia Yu, and McKee’s tale of forbidden romance with a young woman, the film reportedly merges both stories which will set up the big fight finale in a private match that still garners controversy to this day.
Much to the chagrin of some, the same could be said for the film which took the brunt of heavy criticism from vociferous fans and moviegoers, including none other than Bruce Lee Enterprises CEO Shannon Lee. A trailer has already since gone viral so fans can judge for themselves while the film finally has landed some distribution with a release date all but pending.
Martial arts cinema fans can proudly bask in the knowledge that the time-honored memory and legacy of Jeet Kune Do founder and action cinema trailblazer Bruce Lee will never be forgotten. That said, it was back in 2013 that reports cited director George Nolfi would be at the forefront of his own biographical telling of the late film star’s life in the form of Birth Of The Dragon, chronicling the events leading up to Lee’s historic confrontation with fellow martial artist Wong Jack Man.
If you’ve been keeping up, you’ll know how challenging it may be for any production to possibly find an actor suitable enough to take on portraying Lee let alone the younger iteration in his mid-20’s. It’s been done before though, although the recent production of Ip Man 3D previously intended on casting a physical performer who could host a CGI-hybrid enhancement of Lee as a result of reportedly not being able to find an actor.
Well, at least for what Nolfi has planned, there won’t be any CGI here. Casting has begun for the lead role and Project Casting has the details.
From the director of The Adjustment Bureau comes BIRTH OF THE DRAGON. Produced by Groundswell Productions, the producers of The Illusionist, Milk and Sideways, and Kylin Films. Written by the Oscar nominated writers of Nixon and Ali and casting by Joanna Colbert and PoPing AuYoung.
In San Francisco in the 1960s, a legendary fight took place between Bruce Lee and Wong Jack Man. It occurred in an abandoned warehouse before twelve witnesses, no two of whom could agree on what actually happened. But it changed the history of martial arts. This story is inspired by that fight.
‘Birth of The Dragon’ will be directed by George Nolfi. In 2004, he adapted his spec screenplay Honor Among Thieves (previously considered as a John Woo vehicle) into the sequel to Ocean’s Eleven called Ocean’s Twelve. He has also written screenplays for Timeline and The Sentinel. He co-wrote The Bourne Ultimatum with Tony Gilroy, and Scott Z. Burns. Nolfi is set to direct a projected horror film entitled, XOXO, which is being produced by Darren Aronofsky and written by Black Swan writer Mark Heyman.
Bruce Lee is known for his roles in five feature-length films: Lo Wei’s The Big Boss (1971) and Fist of Fury (1972); Golden Harvest’s Way of the Dragon (1972), directed and written by Lee; Golden Harvest and Warner Brothers’ Enter the Dragon (1973) and The Game of Death (1978), both directed by Robert Clouse.
Bruce Lee became an iconic figure known throughout the world, particularly among the Chinese, as he portrayed Chinese nationalism in his films.
He trained in the art of Wing Chun and later combined his other influences from various sources, in the spirit of his personal martial arts philosophy, which he dubbed Jeet Kune Do (The Way of the Intercepting Fist).
He died in Kowloon Tong on July 20, 1973 at the very young age of 32.
“Birth of the Dragon” is inspired by the true story of Bruce Lee’s legendary duel with China’s most famous kung fu master, Wong Jack Man, in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Told from the perspective of one of Lee’s disciples, the film then follows Lee as he takes on a vicious band of Chinatown gangsters. Utilizing real-life events and characters, the film blends fiction with reality to create an original story that breaks the mold of the traditional biopic.
Casting directors are looking for a young Bruce Lee between the ages of 20 to 30 years old. An experienced martial artist highly desired but not required.
So there you have it. If you or someone you know can act and screenfight while potentially bearing a resemblance to the iconic film star, click here and go to work, and good luck! Make us proud!
It was back in February of last yearthat QED International and Groundswell Productions announced their backing of a new Bruce Lee biopic titled Birth Of The Dragon. The film’s announcement couldn’t have come at a better time last year as a new Bruce Lee statue was unveiled in California, in addition to a star-studded screening of Enter The Dragon at the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences, and a special exhibition launched at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum attributed to the Jeet Kune Do master and martial artist 40 years after his passing.
On Friday, it was officially announced that The Adjustment Bureau helmer George Nolfi will be directing the film, which will center on a story inspired by the historic closed-doors fight between Lee and kung fu master Wong Jack Man at a time when the Hong Kong Triads were prominent in San Francisco. Nolfi‘s writing credits also include Timeline (2003), Oceans Twelve (2004) and The Bourne Ultimatum (2007). Written by Nixon and Ali scribes Christopher Wilkinson and Stephen Rivele the film will be told from the perspective of Steve Mackin, once a student of Lee who ultimately joins forces with Lee and Wong to take on vicious Chinatown gangsters.
Wilkinson and Rivele are producing with Janice Williams, QED founder and CEO Bill Block, and with Groundswell CEO Michael London. Kelly Mullen is executive producing for QED. Birth Of The Dragon will begin rolling cameras next Spring.
The twenty million dollar question is, now who will play Bruce Lee? We’ll find out eventually. And I know once I do, I’ll pass it on.