Bruce Lee

How do you fix Birth of the Dragon – Bruce Lee biopic with a white man in the lead? Just make a new trailer

George Nolfi-directed Birth of the Dragon makes Chinese martial arts legend a side character in his own biopic, but an ingeniously edited new trailer makes it appear he’s the star

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 July, 2017, 2:50pm
UPDATED : Friday, 14 July, 2017, 2:50pm

Sometimes, movie studios do listen to the critics.

The Bruce Lee biopic Birth of the Dragon got slaughtered after its Toronto Film Festival premiere in September for sidelining the martial arts cinema icon for a fictional white male character, and the film is getting a new trailer today that goes to comical lengths to hide its American protagonist, ahead of its August 25 release in the United States.

Watch the first trailer for Birth of the Dragon :

Set in San Francisco’s Chinatown in 1964, the film purports to reconstruct a legendary fight between Lee (played by Philip Ng Wan-lung, Once Upon a Time in Shanghai ) and Shaolin martial artist Wong Jack Man (Xia Yu, Mojin – The Lost Legend ) before the former established himself as an international superstar.

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But Birth of the Dragon, directed by The Adjustment Bureau’s George Nolfi, somehow messed that mouth-watering premise up by giving the leading role to the fictional Steve McKee (Billy Magnussen), a white American who travels to San Francisco for the free-love hippie scene but ends up befriending Lee and dating a Chinese woman.

With accusations of whitewashing Asian roles still a big talking point in Hollywood (just ask Tilda Swinton), audiences are, unsurprisingly, not all that enamoured of the sight of Bruce Lee playing a side character in his own movie.

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It may be of little solace, but they’ll now always have this ingeniously edited trailer, brought to you from an alternate universe in which Bruce Lee is the star of his own biopic. Who’d have thought that possible?

Watch the new trailer for Birth of the Dragon :

As a bonus, here’s Philip Ng telling about his supposed star turn in happier times (before he met Steve):

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