One of the most badass kung fu film stars of all time is now getting another biopic about his life, and now there’s a director in place to bring that vision to the big screen.
Variety reports that The Adjusment Bureau‘s George Nolfi has signed on to direct Birth of The Dragon, which is inspired by the very true and historic fight between Lee and China’s most famous kung fu master Wong Jack Man in 1964, back when the Hong Kong Triads controlled San Francisco’s famed Chinatown. Their infamous battle happened five years before Lee embarked on his now-iconic film career.
Wong’s martial arts classes concentrated on T’ai chi ch’uan, Xingyiquan, and Northern Shaolin, for which he continued to teach for 45 years until his retirement in 2005. According to Lee’s wife Linda Lee Cadwell, Chinese martial artists in San Francisco were very upset that Lee was teaching Chinese martial arts to anyone who wanted to learn, with a majority of his students being Caucasian. Wong said that Lee would be fighting for the right to teach Caucasians and after Lee said he could “defeat any martial artist in San Francisco,” Wong accepted the challenge and requested a match with Lee. Details about the fight are sketchy since it wasn’t recorded and only a few people witnessed it, but in her book, Bruce Lee: The Only Man I Knew, Cadwell describes what happened during their historic meet:
The two came out, bowed formally and then began to fight. Wong adopted a classic stance whereas Bruce, who at the time was still using his Wing Chun style, produced a series of straight punches. “Within a minute, Wong’s men were trying to stop the fight as Bruce began to warm to his task. James Lee warned them to let the fight continue. A minute later, with Bruce continuing the attack in earnest, Wong began to backpedal as fast as he could. For an instant, indeed, the scrap threatened to degenerate into a farce as Wong actually turned and ran. But Bruce pounced on him like a springing leopard and brought him to the floor where he began pounding him into a state of demoralization. “Is that enough?” shouted Bruce, “That’s enough!” pleaded his adversary. Bruce demanded a second reply to his question to make sure that he understood this was the end of the fight.
Variety says the movie will be told from the POV of Steve Macklin, one of Lee’s students who “ultimately joins forces with Lee and Wong to battle a vicious band of Chinatown gangsters.”
Writing team Christopher Wilkinson and Stephen Rivele (Nixon, Ali) penned the script and since they’re experienced with the biopic genre, it sounds like it could be something special. No word on casting yet but when I know, YOU’LL know!
How do you feel about another Bruce Lee biopic and who would you like to see in the lead role?
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