‘Inaccurate and insulting’. ‘A travesty on many levels’. Bruce Lee’s daughter Shannon Lee has this, and much more to say about a new film about her father, the martial arts legend who introduced the world to a new style of cinema.
Birth of a Dragon - or at least its trailer - is drawing negative attention online after Lee fans complained about how the film sidelines Lee in favour of a white character played by Billy Magnussen.
The film charts Lee’s growth as a young man and his little-known fight with master Wong Jack Man in 1964.
But with Lee seemingly given a supporting role in his own biopic, fans protested online.
“Is this a joke? I was here to see Bruce Lee but they put the focus on some white guy,” wrote an angry fan in his IMDb review. “Instead of celebrating what a beast Bruce Lee was, they made him out to be some insecure and jealous loser. Seemed more like a character assassination, rather than a biopic,” he added.
One reddit user commented: “You turned a biopic about Bruce Lee (a real Asian person) into a ridiculous story about a fictional White guy.” Another, agreed: “Hollywood social engineering trash. Again with the White man save the world trope. This movie is so cliché. Even Bruce Lee is sidelined to make way for a White guy.”
Speaking to The Guardian, Shannon Lee said, “There have been projects out there involving my father but they’ve lacked a complete understanding of his philosophies and artistry.
“They haven’t captured the essence of his beliefs in martial arts or storytelling. The only way to get audiences to understand the depth and uniqueness of my father is to generate our own material.”
Director George Nolfi defended his film. He told Deadline, “To be able to watch this white guy become a fully formed man, with Bruce Lee and Wong Jack Man becoming these surrogate father figures to him, even though they were about the same age… I thought that was very unusual in Hollywood filmmaking.”
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