Bruce Lee (played by rising Hong Kong Kung Fu star Philip Ng), the legendary martial arts icon who changed the world, is depicted as a one-dimensional, asexual, awkward loser who is jealous of the white guy in his own biographical film. A biographical film about BRUCE LEE. Wow. What a disaster.
The white guy – Steve McKee – is supposed to be the main character of the film and central to the story… um, yeah right. We don’t know who that is, and neither do we know who the actor who plays him is (Billy Magnussen… who?), but you know what, he’s white, so that must make him extremely important and vital to the story in Bruce Lee’s life, right?!
We purposely did not include a link to the film’s trailer in this article, because we refuse to give the trailer any more hits. If you wish, you can find it on YouTube.
Click here to read a mainstream review of Birth of the Dragon written by Yahoo.
From our understanding, Birth of the Dragon is supposed to be a film about Bruce Lee’s earlier years in America and his fight with Kung Fu master Wong Jack Man – who changed him forever and set him along the path of inventing Jeet Kune Do and the philosophies behind MMA… or is it just another clichéd White Savior Trope film where a “down on his luck loser” learns Kung Fu and saves the world (including the Asian girl)?
What the people are saying:
Let’s see the user written reviews on IMDb. The responses are not pretty. If you’re not comfortable with honest discussions about race, look away! You have been warned.
“This is just a fictional story about a white guy who masters Kung Fu and gets the Chinese woman.” – ridgepoor
In real life, Bruce Lee ended up marrying a white girl. He was discriminated by many white men and had to work hard to be a superstar. You went to Princeton University, don’t you think that you should have done some research about this character first? Didn’t they teach you to be critical? This isn’t a movie about Bruce Lee, this is a movie about your racist imagination. WHAT IS WRONG WITH MAKING AN ASIAN GUY BECOME THE LEAD ACTOR IN A MOVIE? Enough is enough, we Asians are already sick of the whole whitewashing thing.
“This is the biopic of some random white guy that you’ve been not waiting for.” – ticklegear
Is this a joke? I am here to see Bruce Lee and but they put the focus on some white guy, Steve McKee (Billy Magnussen). I got nothing against white guys, but what is he doing as the focus of a Bruce Lee biopic? I noticed a very disturbing pattern in Hollywood. They can’t seem to be happy with Asian men in the lead role even in their own biopic. You may think I am kidding but look at all the ways they’ve whitewashed history eg. The Conqueror – Genghis Khan played by John Wayne, Attila The Hun starring the guy from 300. Is it a coincidence that kulturemedia (search it) has a database of this sort of thing? But that’s just the beginning. Instead of celebrating what a beast Bruce Lee is, they make him out to be some insecure and jealous loser who is butt hurt over Steve McKee’s success (in the film that is). Seems more like a character assassination, rather than a biopic. There’s the whole “hostility to the fact that Lee’s students include Caucasians.” This is very one sided because it doesn’t account for the century of rampant racism and war crimes committed by Caucasians against the Chinese including the opium wars holocaust, eight nation alliance, and the stealing of Hong Kong and Macau. None of that is mentioned. All in all, this is a terrible film. I would not recommend it for Bruce Lee fans as it tarnishes his true history with half baked lies and even focuses on some Caucasian instead. Feels like it was the director who was jealous of Bruce Lee’s success.
“This film seriously offends me.” – chrisleeisworking
I wanted to throw my popcorn at the screen!! This is cash grab garbage, crock of shit. The director has turned Bruce Lee into a caricature. This is spitting on the memory of Bruce Lee. As a loyal fan of Bruce Lee and as an Asian, this film seriously offends me. ENOUGH! We in the Asian communities will make sure this film earns ZERO dollars. The script is shockingly dull and absurd, the fight scenes aren’t exceptional, the stunt guy who plays Bruce Lee captures zero essence of Bruce Lee, his acting pure ham. The director should go back to writing to spare us further torture. BIRTH OF THE DRAGON is NOT sanctioned by the Lee family!
“Oh no please no.” – chrisli
Bruce Lee would impart political themes in his films. If you ever watch his Hong Kong movies in original Cantonese language, the script is full of political fighting talk. Its another reason why the people of Hong Kong loved him so much, or the Chinese in general. His characters he played in those films were real heroic figures for the people at the time. No wonder this film didn’t get the blessing of the Bruce Lee foundation / family. I hope the Chinese investors realize this, that they could have had a really great project…but no.
“Hollywood racism galore.” – bawlife
Film reduces Bruce Lee into a side character in his own story to force a white guy into the lead. Why is the main focus of the trailer on this silly white American dude? Asian males can never take the lead role. Only the side kick even in their own movie. It is disgusting. White people, would it kill you to stop inserting yourselves into everything? And of course the white guy is dating the Asian girl. Can you stop socially engineering Asian girls to only see white guys as the acceptable dating partner? Stop shoving this down our throat. A white guy kisses an Asian girl. Every movie. It’s like they want to brainwash us that Asian girls belong to white men. This turns into a sickening Asian fetish in real life.
“I never write reviews for anything, but this time I absolutely had to.” – nightmarephoenix
I never write reviews for anything, but this time I absolutely had to. THIS IS NOT A FILM. IT’S ANTI-ASIAN PROPAGANDA. Yellow Peril, 2016 version. This entire film is a carefully hidden propaganda piece that portrays Lee as some asexual, angry, Kung Fu loser who accomplishes nothing. Meanwhile, a white guy actually stars as the main character of the movie, gets the (Asian) girl, and wins the day. What? What just happened? A film about Bruce Lee that ISN’T actually about Bruce? This propaganda piece focuses on stereotyping, dehumanizing, and denigrating Asians and Asian culture. Of course, that’s no surprise. If you Google ‘kulture media’ , you’ll find a bunch more examples where western media wages war against Asians in this century. Highly recommend people to avoid this film, and watch “The Slanted Screen” documentary instead.
“A disrespectful appropriation of Bruce Lee.” – consciouskendrikHollywood is racist. This movie disrespects the legacy of Bruce Lee. I highly recommend everyone to boycott this movie. The movie serves to perpetuate negative stereotypes regarding Asian women, men, and the culture. It’s perspective forces the viewer to indulge in racism against people of color. The racism is very subversive and is spread by more than just one movie. Movies like these are bountiful in Hollywood (denigrating Asian culture). I noticed a very disturbing pattern in Hollywood. They do not want Asian men in the lead role even in their own biopic.
“Trash.” – udemypreview
I wanted to watch a movie about the legend Bruce Lee. Not another white washed movie deleting / altering / hiding his history and again disrespecting Asians with another White Male Asian Female love interest. Truth is movies spread lies and it hurts societies. In this case, Asian men. The lies that Hollywood continues to spread must be stopped. You are creating racists with everyone who watches it. Bruce Lee is a legend and you are trying your best to take everything away from him and his people. When will it end?
“Hollywood trash.” – victorspam
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. Of course, the white guy gets the Asian girl, while the Asian guys are sexless martial artists. Hollywood is still overwhelmingly white and Jewish male dominated. All black, Hispanic, and Asians, whose stories are never told, should stop watching and getting brainwashed. While white people only see fear in black, Hispanic,and Asian. There is an empathy gap. This is because non-white watch movies with white leads, but white only watch non-white leads when it’s Denzel or Will Smith. You will never see a random non-white actor as lead. The simple fact that whites don’t empathize with non-white is because they can’t bear watching something when they are not the main focus. Please don’t watch this trash and give money to these studios. I’m getting to the point that I’m sick of seeing white people on screen. I will hand out boycott cards to movie goers at movies like this.
Well, we didn’t need to look at a site like Kulture Media to know about the white washing of Asian stories and general anti-Asian propaganda that was, is, and continues to be perpetuated by Hollywood / America for the better part of a century.
All we need to do is open our eyes (pun intended) and look at the movies that get made (and exported worldwide) at the expense of Asians (especially Asian men):
- Ghost In The Shell (main character Motoko Kusanagi is white washed and played by Scarlett Johansson)
- Aloha (Allison Ng, a Chinese character is played by Emma Stone)
- 21 (real life story of Asian MIT students are replaced with white actors)
- Romeo Must Die (Romeo and Juliet story except Jet Li doesn’t even kiss Aaliyah)
- The Forbidden Kingdom (only a white guy who learns Kung Fu can save China and the Asian girl from evil)
- Outcast (white Crusaders come and save China and the Asian girl from an evil Chinese prince)
- The Wolverine (every Asian guy is useless and dies, while Wolverine saves all the Asian women, uses them for sex, but goes back home to a white girl he actually loves)
- Full Metal Jacket (“me so horny me love you long time”)
- The Last Airbender (all the ethnic heroes are replaced with white people, but the villains remain ethnic)
- The Man With The Iron Fists (all Asian women are sexualized whores)
- The Last Samurai (a white guy goes to Japan, kills your brother in law, sleeps with your sister, and beats your best friend in a sword fight after only training for a few months, and saves Japan)
- 47 Ronin (only a mixed Asian born from a white father can save the princess, the other 47 ronin are apparently useless)
- Red Dawn (Chinese are evil, but they actually watch Hollywood movies so let’s make them North Korean instead)
- Dragonball Evolution (Let’s make Goku a white guy but keep the Asian girl in it)
- Pacific Rim (only a white guy can save the world and protect those poor helpless Asians – Asian guys are useless and they die. Even though the Asian girl is portrayed as somewhat strong (only after guidance from non-Asian men), it is still comes at the expense of Asian men, who are easily beat down by the white guy)
- Iron Man 3 (The Mandarin is a wimp instead of a bad ass villain)
- The Hangover (Asian penis jokes in the 21st century, how mature)
- Sixteen Candles (Long Duk Dong, the emasculated Asian nerd who is the laughing stock of his whole generation)
- Breakfast At Tiffany’s (that old bucktoothed angry Asian man played in yellowface)
- Entourage (Lloyd, the gay fat comedic Asian)
- 2 Broke Girls (Matthew Moy, another fat Asian nerd foreigner character)
- Make It Pop (3 Asian girls with 1 white guy in a kid’s TV show about Korean pop, it’s for the kids!)
- The Interview (white guys go to poor Asian country to make fun of / kill Asian guys while having sex with Asian women, while the supreme leader of North Korea is actually another emasculated idiot who secretly dreams of being American but is also useless and dies)
- The Great Wall (China gets The Last Samurai treatment, starring Matt Damon)
- No Escape (white family moves to Thailand, realizes some Asians are terrorists, proceeds to escape the country while using poor local Asians as meat shields)
- Star Trek: Beyond (The character of Sulu played by John Cho has recently been turned gay, even though the original actor who played Sulu and LGBTQ activist George Takei protested against turning his character gay)
…and the list goes on and on. There are many more examples, but you get the point.
Now, contrast the premise of Birth of the Dragon with the biopic Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story made just a few decades earlier:
In this film clip, Bruce Lee (played by Jason Scott Lee) is upset to see Asians portrayed so negatively in movies such as Breakfast at Tiffany’s. His white girlfriend realizes how messed up this is, and asks to leave the theatre with Bruce.
Boy, now that is a world of a difference.
Hollywood tells us that only white people matter.
In today’s trend (or maybe it’s always been like this) of film making and storytelling, society is brainwashed to think Asians can never be leaders or important because it always takes a “white male protagonist” in order to “get the audience to relate to him” because he’s white. The same old “it would be a box office disaster if an Asian was the lead actor” excuse made by Hollywood film studios and producers.
This same tired formula / plot device is used for shows on Netflix like Marco Polo and Narcos, where instead of focusing on a foreign person whether Mongolian or Colombian as the central character, it has to be told through the lens of a white person. Does it really help the storytelling? Or is it more of a hindrance?
Gee, last time I checked, white people could relate with animated Disney / Pixar characters and CGI blue skinned aliens just fine.
But relating to *gasp*… Asians? No way! Impossible! Asians aren’t human, they don’t speak American, they should all go back to China! Ching chong! Am I doing it right?
Did we forget that in the 90’s, films like Mortal Kombat starred Asians without white washing them / putting the focus on a random white guy?
And they did just fine at the box office!
Sure, the films were campy classics, but fans loved it because they at least stayed faithful to the source material. Birth of the Dragon, it is not.
And who comes out as the losers here? The actor who played Bruce Lee, and all of Bruce Lee’s fans.
We can’t fault Philip Ng for taking on a once in a lifetime opportunity to portray Bruce Lee (let’s be honest, any Kung Fu actor who comes after Bruce Lee is going to live in Bruce’s shadow, as Jackie Chan, Jet Li, and Donnie Yen have all been pressured to take on roles that resembled Bruce Lee) in his Hollywood debut, but to Bruce Lee’s credit, back in his day he never took on demeaning roles in Hollywood, and outright refused them.
We don’t know how Philip Ng’s career will turn out after this film (we wish him the best), but it wouldn’t be incorrect to assume that no one watching this exploitative film will give him another chance for another role in America – and it’s not his fault. The fault lies with the film makers.
When Bruce Lee’s own television script Kung Fu was stolen by Warner Bros. and subsequently white washed by David Carradine (who would have been a nobody without Bruce Lee), he flew back to Hong Kong to make his own films that showed the world he could be a true leading man, and not a sidekick. Similarly, we now have an unknown white actor Billy Magnussen, piggybacking off of Bruce Lee’s legacy in order to gain fame for himself with Birth of the Dragon.
Hollywood loves to steal ideas and appropriate culture from other people, replace them with white actors, dismiss the original creators, and take the glory and credit. It is history repeated again.
Remembering the real Bruce Lee
It’s obvious to us that Hollywood is trying extra hard these days to omit or belittle Asians in the media. We’re just shocked to find that they would dare try to erase the accomplishments of the legendary Bruce Lee and what he represented – strong Asian masculinity and sexuality – effectively trying to erase prominent Asian heroic figures off the face of popular culture altogether.
Maybe it has to do with the economic rise and threat of China, but for whatever reason, Hollywood is ramping up its anti-Asian propaganda campaign, further regulating us to sidekicks, nerds, geeks, and emasculated asexuals, even in our own biographical pictures, promoting a revisionist history of Asians (and engineering our society as a result).
Bruce Lee however, was anything but an emasculated, asexual geek. He defied the odds, rebelled from traditional norms and mainstream society, and carved out his own legacy that not only inspired millions of people around the world – he was a symbol for Chinese and Asian pride.
We should remember the real legacy of Bruce Lee, and not the sidekick freak show version fabricated by Hollywood today.