Bruce Lee was cool. That statement’s not as subjective as it sounds, either; there are specific metrics by which we measure who’s cool, and the late martial arts master fit pretty much all of them. Lee was unparalleled in his field, able to use his comparatively slight stature as an advantage in combat, steadying himself with his low center of gravity. The man had a signature style, with his yellow jumpsuit/bowl cut combo from Game of Death attaining iconic status through repeated imitation in pop culture. And most critically, Lee shuffled off his mortal coil before he could become uncool, dying of a cerebral edema at age 32. Lee remains a pop-culture icon to this day, the single most recognizable star to emerge from the American fascination with kung fu flicks during the ‘70s.

In other words, he and his extraordinary life are the perfect fodder for a big-screen biopic. Audiences will receive just that with Birth of the Dragon, a newly announced project from Groundswell Productions. The film is expected to blend the traditional elements of the biopic with the balletic thrills of wuxia cinema, examining Lee’s life and times while simultaneously acting as a white-knuckle action picture in its own right. Philip Ng has agreed to portray Lee himself, and Yu Xia, Billy Magnussen, Jinging Qu, and Jin Xing will appear in the supporting cast.

The film will center on the historic showdown between Lee and his rival Wong Jack Man (Yu Xia) that took place in Oakland in 1964. The landmark duel between the two fighters took place behind closed doors, and so the film will frame the battle through the eyes of one of the few parties present, student Steve McKee (Magnussen). Displeased with Lee for teaching white students the sacred art of kung fu, Wong Jack Man made something of a nemesis out of Lee. The two decided to settle their differences once and for all in a winner-take-all battle. Even as he outlived Lee by years and years, Wong kept suspiciously quiet about the outcome of the fight, but now the curtain will finally be drawn back.

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