Bruce Lee’s Most Controversial Fight Set For Film Adaption
Yahoo News reported recently that a film based on Bruce Lee’s legendary fight against Chinese kung fu master Wong Jack Man is in the works, tentatively titled “Birth of the Dragon.” This fight, which took place in Oakland, California in 1965, helped Lee obtain his status as a legendary martial artist. There were very few spectators at the original event, and there is still heavy debate about what exactly went on inside the gym:
Groundswell CEO Michael London told Yahoo! Sports on Tuesday that the process of developing a screenplay has just begun.
It is not, however, designed to be a biography of Lee, who died in 1973, or the definitive account of the fight.
“We’re actually not trying to re-tell the story of Bruce Lee,” London said. “I think that’s a natural impression people might get. The idea, actually, is to take that battle, which has been so mysterious and so powerful and so interesting to so many, and tell the lead-up to that story, which is Wong Jack Man’s arrival in San Francisco.”
“We’ve created a back story. There is [sic] a lot people that know about why Wong Jack Man came to San Francisco, but we’re trying to create a dramatically satisfying story about why he’s there. So we’re taking license. That’s why we say it’s going to be inspired by that fight and isn’t a literal telling of it.”
London said the writers — Christopher Wilkinson and Stephen Rivele — have the belief that Jack Man was trying to help Lee to become the best version of himself and was trying to teach Lee lessons…
London said no timetable is set to begin filming. He said “if we’re lucky, we’ll make the movie next year.”
Though the film promises an entertaining spectacle in its fictionalized account of the pivotal fight and its lead-up, it will arguably leave Lee fans hungry for a more historically accurate representation of the events. To many, this fight is especially noteworthy as it allegedly helped cultivate Lee’s views on Jeet Kune Do, a popular form of mixed martial arts practiced today.
Those interested in the events of Bruce Lee’s life leading up to this historic fight should check out The Dragon and the Tiger: The Birth of Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do by Greglon Lee and Sid Campbell. Greglon Lee’s father, martial artist James Lee, formed the Jun Fan Gung-fu Institute in conjunction with Bruce Lee in 1962, which is now considered the birthplace of Jeet Kune Do. James Lee’s relationship with Bruce Lee was fundamental in his development into the legend he became. The authors conducted extensive interviews with Bruce Lee’s students and contemporaries, and compiled these with stories pulled from rare documents in order to present a full, captivating picture of his life as a young man. The authors also shed light on Bruce Lee’s life between the years 1962 and 1965, the period directly preceding his fight with Wong Jack Man, which very few had previously chronicled.
If you are more intrigued by Wong Jack Man and his influence, you can explore the work of author Rick Wing, who studied under Man to hone his skills in Northern Shaolin, a form of martial arts originating from Northern China. Blue Snake Books features two titles from Wing: Fu Zhen Song’s Dragon Bagua Zhang, a step-by-step guide for learning this challenging form of martial arts, as well as The Classical Three-Section Staff, an easily understood handbook for mastering the wheeling maneuvers associated with this traditional Chinese weapon.
Can’t get your fill of Bruce Lee? You can also check out Me, Chi, and Bruce Lee, in which author Brian Preston sets out to earn a black belt and answers the question: “why have Eastern martial arts become so popular worldwide?” Those interested in a comprehensive account of Bruce Lee’s martial arts and movies should pick up Bruce Lee: Fighting Spirit by Bruce Thomas, the only independent biography of the legendary fighter. Starting up where Fighting Spirit leaves off is Thomas’s Bruce Lee: Fighting Words. This book features collections of short essays, interviews, and anecdotes, and uniquely showcases two sides of Bruce Lee: the martial arts superstar, as well as the unfulfilled philosopher.