Update: San Francisco native Bruce Lee was honored yesterday afternoon with a plaque at the Chinatown hospital where he was born, presented by the makers of a new movie about him.
Presented by director George Nolfi and actor Phillip Ng, who is set to play Lee in Birth of the Dragon, the plaque commemorates Lee’s birth at Chinese Hospital in 1940.
It was presented in a ceremony at 3pm in front of the hospital at 845 Jackson St.
The story before the legend. Bruce Lee, a young teacher based in the 1960′s era of San Francisco has a lot to prove and a lot to contend with as America’s rising Asian star — But did the tone of this movie really reach viewers?
Birth of the Dragon is an upcoming American martial arts biographical drama film directed by George Nolfi and written by Christopher Wilkinson and Stephen J. Rivele. The film stars Billy Magnussen, Philip Ng, and Xia Yu. The true story revolves around the young martial artist Bruce Lee, who challenges Kung Fu master Wong Jack Man in 1965 in San Francisco.
At first sight, we’re incredibly happy to see Asian actors playing the part in an American film (unlike these glaring issues among the film and TV industry.) Garnering no blessings from the Bruce Lee foundation however, the film is making a flop among critics who were curious enough to see what the whole jam was about.
“Bruce Lee would impart political themes in his films. If you ever watch his Hong Kong movies in original Cantonese language, the script is full of political fighting talk.” Chris Li, an IMDB critic said about the upcoming release, “It’s another reason why the people of Hong Kong loved him so much or the Chinese [people] in general. His characters he played in those films were real heroic figures for the people at the time.”
Owen Gleiberman of the Toronto Film Review had questioned the character of Bruce Lee in this Bay Area “adaptation”, “Was Bruce Lee actually a good fighter? The question sounds insane, because no one in the history of martial-arts cinema has ever been half as mesmerizing to watch. Plenty of martial-arts stars have speed, but Lee wasn’t just faster than any of then; he had the demonic charisma of speed, a ferocity that charged every jagged movement with expression.“
Own goes onto say, “The director, George Nolfi (a co-screenwriter of “The Bourne Ultimatum” and “Ocean’s Twelve”), treats Lee as a coolly stylized character, a kind of laidback Elvis-in-Chinatown version of the invincible warrior he played on TV and in the movies. But, of course, Bruce Lee wasn’t that character — he was actually a real person!“
What seemed as a great direction for an Asian American film spiraled into a frenzy of “lack of research”, “no character development”, and a “plot that condenses the events of history all together.”
The film, set to open nationwide August 25th, will be set in 1960s San Francisco and is inspired by a showdown between the young Lee and kung fu master Wong Jack Man. Chinese Hospital is a nonprofit facility catering to Chinatown’s multicultural, multilingual community, with origins dating back to 1899. The hospital celebrated the opening of a new 88-bed Patient Tower, replacing an original 1925 building, in April 2016. Lee, who went on to have an influential but brief film career, died in 1973 at the age of 32 in Hong Kong.
“Birth of the Dragon” is a strange film: It huffs and puffs about what a mythic fight this was, yet it bumbles and stumbles when it comes to showing us what happened, and why it mattered,“ said Owen.
// What are your thoughts though? Check out the trailer below and make your own assumptions.