Did “Birth of the Dragon” pay it’s dues to the Kung Fu legend?

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Constant action, epic battle scenes and left hooks for days. That’s what would come to mind when watching a Bruce Lee film, right?

“Birth of the Dragon” is a biographical action/drama that re-enacts the premature years of famed martial-arts master and actor Bruce Lee. The film is centered around the controversial face off between the legendary Bruce Lee and Wong Jack Man, the Kung-Fu master and Shaolin monk, and everything else random that happens in between. People still talk about this face off from the 1960’s, and if you don’t know what I’m talking about, Google it.

According to the film, the fight initiates due to the direction Bruce Lee (played by actor Philip Ng) decides he wants his Kung Fu teaching methods to go, which doesn’t sit so well with the old heads of martial arts. Lee chose to share the beauty of the Chinese culture with everyone through his philosophy of “Kung Fu for all.” This ethos was not shared amongst more traditional followers of the Chinese art form, as expressed by Wong Jack Man (played by actor Yu Xia).

According to Jack Man, Lee was upsetting many in the martial arts community, because he was exposing such a valuable part of their Chinese culture to outsiders. Eventually, Lee decides to call Jack Man’s bluff on the issue and they agree to go head-to-head for one of the most anticipated battles of their time. Everyone wanted a little piece of the actioneven the neighborhood gangsters placed bets on this fight.

In the midst of all of the preparation for the epic battle, there is a random love story taking place between a Kung Fu student who falls in love with a young girl that is being groomed for the escort life, and as the film goes on, this side plot seems pointless since the film is supposed to be centered around the “Birth of the Dragon” Bruce Lee.

When the battle begins, things start to heat up on the action side. The fast-paced, heart throbbing scene kept me on the edge of my seat craving more. The movie finally ends with one more epic fight scene in the establishment ran by the neighborhood gangsters and concludes with the Kung Fu student attempting to help fight off the gangsters in his lover’s honor. Of course, he was of no help as the true masters finishes it off.

Verdict: The film’s action scenes kept me on my toes, but you can’t outdo the master. Bruce Lee was a legend and should be honored as such. The more the scenes dragged on and the more I kept seeing the random Kung Fu student show up, I couldn’t help but think, “Why is this guy here?!”

Grade: C+

Top Five Bruce Lee Film’s to see:

  1.     Enter the Dragon (1973)
  2.     The Big Boss (1971)
  3.     The Way of the Dragon (1972)
  4.     Fist of Fury (1972)
  5.     Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story (1993) The biopic of all biopics. It covers the life and career of one of the world’s most beloved martial artists