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Review - Birth of the Dragon

Updated on October 11, 2016
Phillip Ng, as Bruce Lee
Phillip Ng, as Bruce Lee


You can probably see by the size of the paragraph that this review is going to be mainly negative. But of course, credit should be given when it's due. Philip Ng, did an amazing job in portraying the infamous Bruce Lee. I was very impressed by all the little details. His mannerisms and voice were on point, the way he shuffled his feet was perfect. Ng's Incredible acting was for me, the saving grace of the film and brought the character of Bruce Lee alive.


Okay here we go. So this is what I would expect from a good Bruce Lee biopic.

  1. Bruce Lee to be the focus of the movie
  2. All aspects of Bruce Lee to be portrayed
  3. Addressing the racism in his time
  4. Impressive Fight Choreography

All of these points were given to the audience... 23 years ago. "Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story" was a perfectly reasonable Bruce Lee film.

So how is it that the Bruce Lee movie made in 2016 manages to be less progressive than the one made two decades ago?

It is absolutely ridiculous that Bruce Lee is not the central character of the film "Birth of the Dragon". Bruce Lee is a legend, he is the most influential martial artists of all time. So why can't Hollywood let the Asian dude star in the movie about an Asian dude? Why do we instead, receive a story about a white guy and his romantic conquest of a Chinese woman. Why is Bruce Lee the side character of HIS story?

The movie also fails to give the legend justice. Portraying Bruce Lee as a cocky one dimensional character is just plain disrespectful. Bruce Lee was a thinker, philosopher, and poet. The movie however, chooses to ignore the rich history of the character and instead, opted to portray him as a dumbed down fighter. I believe this is possible the worst offence of the movie. It's truly sad that many audiences will watch this movie and think 'this is who Bruce Lee was' because it most definitely was not who Bruce Lee was.

Another offence of this movie was that it failed to address what it's predecessor addressed so successfully. "Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story" presented viewers with the racism, interracial relationships, and Hollywood discrimination that Bruce Lee faced in his time. These themes have been either completely ignored, or opposed in our modern version. Bruce Lee fought hard against Hollywood's whitewashing of cultures, so why is it that the movie about Bruce Lee star's a white guy?

The fight choreography of this movie was simply unimpressive. This is unacceptable in a movie about Kung Fu and Bruce Lee. Compare the fighting in this movie to what Bruce Lee displayed himself, with inferior technology. The difference you will see is the realism. The movie chooses to show us something cool and flashy with a catchy tune in the background. Bruce Lee's style could not be further from this. Bruce was real, he was hard hitting, he was ruthless and looked as if he could and would kill.

Why this Movie Bombed?

This movie was a failure because the studios tried to play it safe with the audiences. They made the protagonist a white guy because they thought it would make it easier for the west to relate to the movie. They made the fighting flashy instead of real because they thought it would be more enjoyable. They made Bruce Lee as a cocky fighter, ignoring his philosophy. In the end, they made a bad movie.

My Rating - E

What did you think of 'Birth of the Dragon'

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