“Headshot“, the upcoming thriller featuring “The Raid” star Iko Uwais, isn’t the only major martial arts film to debut at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. “Birth of the Dragon”, the highly anticipated retelling of Bruce Lee‘s legendary private match with Wong Jack Man in 1964, also stopped in to make its premiere at the 2016 festival, and like “Headshot”, it was kind enough to drop off a trailer for anyone not able to make it to Toronto this year!
Under the direction of “The Adjustment Bureau” auteur George Nolfi, with action direction from Hong Kong maestro Corey Yuen, the film sees up-and-comer Philip Ng step into the role of Bruce Lee, with Xia Yu portraying the Dragon’s famed opponent Wong Jack Man, re-imagined here as a Shaolin disciple on a pilgrimage to America. Billy Magnussen plays Steve McKee, a young man who studies kung fu under both men, ultimately leading to their controversial smackdown.
It is well documented that the fight with Wong Jack Man served as the catalyst for Bruce Lee to further his knowledge of combat, eventually leading to the development of his own fighting philosophy, Jeet Kune Do (JKD). The famed duel between Lee and Wong was previously re-created in the 1993 biopic “Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story”, with Lee and Wong (renamed “Johnny Sun” in the film) portrayed by Jason Scott Lee and John Cheung. Like the film as a whole, it was an outstanding action sequence, and judging from the trailer above, “Birth of the Dragon” does this legendary sparring match an equal level of justice. The film does certainly take its share of poetic license, but then so does every film involving Wong Fei-hung, Hou Yuanjia, and Ip Man!
Stay tuned for more info on the release of “Birth of the Dragon” as it arrives. In the meantime, be sure to check out the Q&A from the film’s Toronto premiere below!