Bruce Lee biopic lacks thrust of his punch

Hindustan Times (Bathinda) - - NATION - RASHID IRANI

Never mind Jackie Chan, Jet Li and other pop­u­lar chop-socky he­roes, 44 years af­ter his death, Bruce Lee still re­mains the fore­most leg­end in martial arts.

Lee’s ori­gin story fo­cuses on a bru­tal bal­let of kung-fu, in­volv­ing the am­bi­tious young im­mi­grant Lee (Philip Ng) and an es­tab­lished Shaolin mas­ter (Yu Xia).

Although the out­come of the pri­vately spon­sored 1964 San Fran­cisco con­test be­tween Bruce Lee and Wong Jack Man has been the sub­ject of de­bate over the decades, there is no deny­ing that it pro­pelled Bruce Lee to su­per­star­dom.

Birth of the Dragon is for­mu­laic stuff de­rived from a script full of longueurs. Af­ter a some­what slug­gish start, which in­tro­duces us to Lee’s in­ef­fec­tual Cau­casian stu­dent (Billy Mag­nussen), the story kicks into high gear with the two Asian op­po­nents show­cas­ing their dif­fer­ing martial arts skills.

The ac­tion se­quences, in­clud­ing a cli­mac­tic dance of de­struc­tion in a Chi­nese restau­rant, are chore­ographed by the cel­e­brated Hong Kong­based ‘martial arts de­signer’ Corey Yuen. Apart from the two prin­ci­pal stars none of the other ac­tors dis­play any ev­i­dence of act­ing abil­ity.

Di­rec­tor Ge­orge Nelfi paints a fairly con­ven­tional por­trait of the ac­tion icon whose street fight­ing style was any­thing but con­ven­tional. Over­all, Birth of the Dragon show­cases suf­fi­cient kick-ass moves to thrill the le­gion of Bruce Lee fans.

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