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Introduction to Birth of the Dragon: A Ms. H Movie Review
It’s been quite awhile since a Bruce Lee movie or any type of martial arts movie for that matter has been released in mainstream theaters. I was pleasantly surprised when I found out a Bruce Lee movie was going to hit the theaters. As expected, I was there, front and center when Birth of the Dragon opened in the movie theaters. Was Birth of the Dragon movie worth the wait? Feel free to check out my movie review and find out.
The Role of Legendary Bruce Lee in Birth of the Dragon
Actors are important in making movies a success as well as other factors. I did not perform any research on the actor who played Bruce Lee until after I saw the movie. Previously, I was curious as to who would be chosen to play such a coveted role. To make a long story short, the actor who played Bruce Lee was none other than Phillip Ng. Like me, you may not be familiar with the actor, Phillip Ng. Even though his acting chops could improve, I think his fighting style did Bruce Lee justice. Bottom line, I think that Philip Ng was casted well as Bruce Lee, even though his acting skills could use a little work. When I speak of acting, I’m referring to how he says his lines, dialogue etc., versus the fight scenes. In my opinion, Philip Ng’s fight scenes were on point.
Actors in Birth of the Dragon
There were no well-known actors in the movie Birth of the Dragon. However, a plus was the movie stayed true to form by having mostly Chinese/Asian actors playing parts in Birth of the Dragon. The main gist of this movie was the match-up between Bruce Lee and Wong Jack Man. A distraction was the actor, Billy Magnussen, who was the go-between for Bruce Lee’s character and that of Wong Jack Man. Unfortunately, during Billy Magnussen’s time on screen, the movie seemed to drag on and lacked the excitement that Bruce Lee’s movies are known for. To give you a visual picture, Billy Magnussen's role was like a pesky fly or mosquito that no matter how many times you swatted it away, it always returned.
Additionally, if you see Birth of the Dragon, I suggest you overlook the silly premise of a fight being arranged between Bruce Lee and Wong Jack Man to free girls from some sort of servitude. I guess the movie needed a storyline, so it went with the old tried and maybe true formula of men rescuing women. So just sit through this until the good parts happen -- which to my disappintment showed up toward the end of the movie. Regardless, there are plenty well-choreographed fights, jumps and fast action moves that will keep your interest.
Philip Ng Screen Time in Birth of the Dragon
I really expected Phillip Ng as Bruce Lee to have more scenes in the movie than he did. Unfortunately, Billy Magnussen as mentioned above took most of the screen time away from the actor who was portraying Bruce Lee.I think the director went over-board regarding the inordinate amount of screen time Billy Magnussen got as opposed to Phillip Ng.
Realism of Birth of the Dragon
Despite some of the substandard acting, Birth of a Dragon for the most part showed a degree of realism. Spoiler Alert: I’m not sure if anyone was privy to what actually happened during the fight between Bruce Lee and Wong Jack Man in real life, but I think it was unrealistic for the fighter to withhold what would have been a punishing blow to his opponent -- and then declare his opponent the winner. This is exactly what happened in Birth of the Dragon. There is a scene where Wong Jack Man has Bruce Lee in a headlock, but instead of throwing a punch, he merely pushes Bruce Lee away -- then the fighting continues as if the headlock had never taken place. In reality, the moment Bruce Lee was defenseless would have been the time to announce his opponent the winner. Of course, this story has movie magic and barring the headlock, it would appear that there was a tie -- meaning there was no clear winner of the match.
Assessment of Birth of the Dragon
Despite some of the not-so-positive comments I made above, I found Birth of a Dragon to be entertaining. Of course there were parts that were predictable, such as who would be declared the winner of the fight -- but overall, I think the movie was not boring in the least. As mentioned previously, there were some slow parts in the movie, but there was also clever banter from the character who played Bruce Lee that lightened up the story.
That being said, there were parts of the movie that could have displayed details further for dramatic effect in certain situations. On a positive note, I liked that Birth of the Dragon was not overly violent and bloody. In fact, I think some of the action scenes may have been toned down, compared to some older martial arts movies I’ve seen. However, bar none, two of my favorite scenes were the match between Bruce Lee and Wong Jack Man as well as when they teamed up to fight against their enemies. Regarding the question of whether this movie was worth the wait, I would say yes but I think Birth of the Dragon could have been a whole lot better if the entire movie was focused on the fighting match without all the other peripheral scenes.
Rating of Birth of the Dragon
Based on a rating of 1 star to 5 stars with 5 stars being the best, I ratee Birth of the Dragon 3 stars.