Birth Of The Dragon uses a still-disputed private brawl between martial arts masters Bruce Lee (Philip Ng) and Wong Jack Man (Yu Xia) in 1964 as the fuel for a San Francisco-set coming-of-age story involving a rough and tumble young white man [Billy Magnussen doing his best Steve McQueen] who matches the feuding fighting legends in the brawl as he pursues a Romeo and Juliet romance with a young Chinese immigrant [JingJing Qu] under the control of the Chinese mob. This mashup of fact and fable was financed by China-based Kylin Pictures, produced by Groundswell’s Michael London and Janice Williams, and written by Christopher Wilkinson and Steven J. Rivele. It is the sophomore directing effort of George Nolfi, the Adjustment Bureau writer-director whose past scripts include Ocean’s Twelve and The Bourne Ultimatum. Here, Nolfi explains why the outcome of the brawl isn’t as important as how it influenced the legend Bruce Lee became, and how Chinese funding could be a salvation for movie heroes not suited up in spandex.
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