I was curious about the uproar by the Chinese Asian community over this American made movie about Bruce Lee, their legendary martial art hero. If you search on Google, you can easily find the trails of hateful comment about the continued whitewashing of Hollywood movies that dismissing other race in it’s movies. So much so that Birth Of The Dragon, a movie that was set to be released last year, supposedly went back into the editing room to remove many of the objected scenes and cut down the main actor’s scene, who is a caucasian, and removed his voice over monologue from the movie altogether.
You read it right. A movie about a true event in Bruce Lee’s life where Bruce is not the main character but a fictionalized caucasian man, who did not existed in the real life event, is the main lead in this movie.
You can argue that in the movie GODZILLA or KING KONG that both monsters were not in every single scene of the movie and humans are the main characters in the movie. But let’s think about this, those monsters movie have several reasons for not putting Godzilla and King Kong on every single frame of the movie, the chief reason is that it will be extremely expensive to insert CGI characters into every scene. They are also, obviously, fictional characters who was the slated to had a big showdown, for suspense purposes towards the end of the movie.
Now going back to the Bruce Lee’s movie, he is portrayed by a flesh and blood actor, and the movie is based on real event center around the character’s life so shouldn’t he be in practically every scene in the movie?
You can also argue that the caucasian character is the person who help the audiences navigate through the narrtive of the movie and is one of the crucial reason behind the big final showdown. But after seeing this movie, this caucasian character could so easily been replaced by an Asian American actor and the movie will not lose any of it’s story arc and twists. That’s when this argument of the importance of the fictional caucasian character in this movie lose steam.
Having written almost three paragraphs about the subject that created all the controversial objections in this movie, I want to focus on the story line and the entertainment value of the movie, which this review ultimately aims to do. In the fight choreography front, the movie did a very respectable job, thanks for the clear minded producer of the movie’s decision in hiring master fight choreographer Corey Yuen to second unit direct all the fight scenes in the movie. The result was impressive and almost as good as the Asian-made martial art movies. All the actors in the movie did a good job in the dramatic scenes and the movie, although slow in parts, keep me engaged throughout. This movie definitely falls into an indie movie category despite being made with a Hollywood budget. It’s mostly a character study on all the people who were involved in the real Bruce Lee-Wong Jack Man fight that took place in the late 60s.
If you know nothing about this event, which is a bonafide folklore among martial arts enthusiasts, you will have a fun time watching this movie and learnt about that event which took place over 50 years ago.