Set against the backdrop of 1960s San Francisco, “Birth of a Dragon” is a modern take on the classic movies that Bruce Lee was known for. It takes its inspiration from the epic and still controversial showdown between an up-and-coming Bruce Lee and kung fu master Wong Jack Man—a battle that gave birth to a legend.
“Birth of a Dragon” is based on a true and legendary fight which took place between Bruce Lee and Wong Jack Man, a fight that is about much more than the winner; it defines the attitude one should take in the use of martial arts. In Bruce Lee’s case, the master Wong Jack Man believes he needs less ego and more humility in his living and attitude. I was impressed with this film. The acting is exceptional, with Philip Ng playing a convincing fighter in Bruce Lee, not to mention his speech and mannerisms which believably match the famous legend. Equally so, Yu Xia gives an excellent performance as Wong Jack Man, exuding a humility and yet inner confidence. We learn during the course of the story why humility is so important to Wong Jack Man.
This film delves into more than just fighting, but it features excellent action-packed fight sequences and some moves which will have the viewer asking, “How did he do THAT?” The comedy is well done too. One young fighter named Steve tries his Chinese out on a young lady, mispronouncing the words, and saying, “I eat Steve” instead of “I am Steve.” He then corrects it to say, “I ate Steve!” The young Chinese woman is very amused by this. Later on Steve is told to welcome the master Wong Jack Man when he arrives in San Francisco. He is told what to say, and when he greets Wong Jack Man, the master smiles and shakes his head no to Steve’s greeting. It seems a joke was played on Steve and he asked the master to please shine his shoes for him!
The essence of this film is about what martial arts is really about—learning self discipline, fighting to defend one’s self and others, and keeping a humility about one’s abilities. Although Bruce Lee definitely had a lot to boast about, it seems as if the fight with Wong Jack Man changed him—for the better. Who wins? You will have to watch the movie to find out. The film contains some violence with the martial arts fighting, and there’s some strong language, but we are pleased to award the movie our Dove Family-Approved Seal for ages 12-plus, while noting parents should consult our content listing to make their own informed choices. This wonderful and nicely directed movie makes a strong point: When you have plenty of reason to brag, it is then you need not to.