“Birth of the Dragon” is a 2016 martial arts drama set in the San Francisco martial arts scene of the 1960s. The film follows Bruce Lee as a young martial arts trainer and his student as ‘they engage in a battle against the local mafia. The climax of the film comes when Lee faces off against another kung fu master, Wong Jack Man, in an epic battle. The legacy of the two martial arts masters and the life of a young woman rests on the outcome of the legendary battle, which is as much about physical prowess as it is about competing philosophies. So how true is “Birth of the Dragon” and its epic showdown actually? Let’s find out.
Is the birth of the dragon based on a true story?
‘Birth of the Dragon’ is based in part on a true story. The film is inspired by the legendary battle between Bruce Lee and Wong Jack Man that took place in 1964. However, other than these two characters, the rest of the situations and characters in the film are fictitious, making this an inspired fictional tale. of real events, instead of being based on real events. Written by Stephen J. Rivele and Christopher Wilkinson, the film also appears to be inspired by Michael Dorgan’s article, “Bruce Lee’s Toughest Fight”.
The film follows Lee’s stay in San Francisco, where he runs a martial arts school. Her student Steve McKee, from whose perspective the story unfolds, falls in love with a girl held hostage by the local Chinatown mafia, and his only chance to save her is to precipitate a face-to-face encounter between Lee and Man. McKee’s character is loosely based on Steve McQueen, who studied kung fu under Lee. However, the narrative of the film and what actually happened essentially diverges in almost every aspect.
Lee and Man’s epic battle took place across Oakland Bay, where Lee spent his formative years after arriving in America. It was also not a high-profile fight and at least seven people were said to have witnessed it. This included Lee’s pregnant wife, Linda, and her friend and colleague James Lee. The other five spectators came from Man’s side.
The real origin of the fight is also far removed from the “damsel in distress” and local mafia scenario depicted in “Birth of the Dragon,” and dates back to Lee’s very public disdain for more traditional martial arts masters and styles. they taught their students. Lee, who spent his teenage years immersed in the simplified, outcome-oriented style of Wing Chun kung fu at Ip Man’s school in Hong Kong, found that the predominant styles taught in America were more show-oriented. than on the fight itself. His demonstrations, speeches, and even the book he published, “Chinese Gung-Fu: The Philosophical Art of Self Defense,” all detailed how his Wing Chun style surpassed those of many respected masters.
Wong Jack Man, a practitioner of the Shaolin style of kung fu, was a recent newcomer to the United States from China. It remains disputed why he got dragged into a fight with Lee. One theory is that Man planned to open his own martial arts school and fought to promote himself. There is also support for the possibility that he was somehow coaxed into the challenge without knowing the real gravity and nuances of the situation. In both cases, the fight took place at a small kung fu school in Oakland and held only a few spectators.
As for the outcome of the fight, the film departs once again from the story because it shows a rapprochement of the two fighters who then unite for the common goal of confronting the local mafia. In fact, Lee and Man have claimed that they did not lose the fight as a result of this battle. However, the encounter with Man apparently led Lee to rethink his own style, the flaws of which may have been revealed to the iconic kung fu figure during the showdown.
“Birth of the Dragon” is based on a brief but legendary battle between two young kung fu masters in 1964. However, the film’s overall dramatic license keeps much of the narrative completely fictional and focuses on the character of Steve McKee, from whose perspective the story is being told. The controversial fight between Lee and Man remains an elusive and hotly debated topic to this day, which is perhaps why so many liberties are taken with his portrayal.
Read more: Best Martial Arts Movies