While Bruce Lee fans will be queuing up for George Nolfi’s Birth of the Dragon, as we see in the Birth of the Dragon film review this might not be the Bruce Lee movie that they might have been expecting.
Philip Ng is Bruce Lee while Xia Yu plays his opposite number, Wong Jack Man. Birth of the Dragon has Bruce Lee as an arrogant young man, who’s confident of his style of martial arts and is training people of the alleys of Frisco. Xua Yu comes to Frisco serving penance and is a master of the martial arts back in his hometown.
Eventually, during the showdown between the two, Bruce Lee has a humbling experience as he realizes that he needs to reinvent himself if he wants to be the best. Birth of the Dragon should have been about this fascinating duel and the buildup to it. However, Nolfi’s work digresses and infuses a subplot that distracts the audience from the soul of the story. Only can the integration of a subplot into the story’s fabric without disrupting it, leave a satisfying experience for the viewer.
Subsequently, here the central plot relegates to the backseat, as we have a love affair between Steve, one of Bruce’s students (Billy Magnussen), and a waitress working under a female crime boss, taking up much of the screentime. As the subplot overshadows the main story, Nolfi’s martial arts movie takes a beating.
Even though the showdown between Bruce Lee and Wong Jack Man is spectacular, and after that, the duo pairing up to help Steve fight the goons in Chinatown also pure brilliance, all of these would have been the film’s highlights on another day. However, they come too late and cannot sufficiently redeem Birth of the Dragon from the throes of mediocrity.
Birth of the Dragon is a slow-paced movie for its genre. The narrative moves at a snail’s pace, and that may be acceptable for some viewers, but for the others, it will be offputting.
Depending on your preferences, you may get by Birth of the Dragon without much ado, or you might feel it somewhat tedious. It’s all got to do with how okay you are watching slow-paced movies.
If you want to watch something zippy, Birth of the Dragon will not satiate you, while those looking for a more subdued affair with some martial arts and a dash of romance, will not mind it.
Birth of the Dragon is by no stretch of the imagination a top draw martial arts movie, and yet, you can watch it for some effortless acting by Philip Ng and Xia Yu, and also the authentic 60s feel that it recreates convincingly. If you have the patience to stay till the finale, you will even get some kickass martial arts that will be worth the wait for some.
Birth of the Dragon film review rating: (2.5 / 5)
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