Benz Eye View: Birth of the Dragon

Birth_of_the_Dragon_poster
Birth of the Dragon

Pros: 

1.) The movie spends plenty of time talking about the lore of kung fu, and it is interesting.  While it has been done before, it is intriguing why these Shaolin monks believe in kung fu and their religion.  It feels like they are talking about a world that is different than ours (then again, all religions do that).  It is probably thanks to the two leads’ acting that they made it believable and compelling.  It makes me want to learn more.

2.) I do enjoy the fight choreography.  I can tell these actors know how to fight with their fast and balanced movement.  Other than Railroad Tigers, it has been a long time since I watched a kung fu movie, and it is refreshing to see one after watching so many action movies.

3.) I like how the two main leads, Bruce Lee and Wong Jack Man have their own interpretations of kung fu and how they express them.  The two are different sides of the coin; one is a show-off and arrogant while the other is calm and reserved.  It fits in how they fight and act in certain situations.  It also gives an interesting personal conflict of how they share their beliefs in kung fu.

 

Cons: 

1.) There is one plot involving a Chinese girl in the movie that I have a couple problems with it.  The first reason is that I find it a little hard to believe that the events in that plot are actually real.  The second reason is that it does not feel like it belongs in this movie.  It already talks about the conflict between two masters who have different views on how to use kung fu, and it suddenly has a plot that feels shoehorned in.  Maybe it actually did happen, but it does not really work here…

2.) …The big reason why that it does not really work is because the side characters involved are not interesting.  They only seem to exist just to move the plot forward with no compelling characteristics.  I do not even remember their names or characteristics other than the basic ones; they are that bland.  Even the antagonists feel shoehorned in despite having some presence in the movie.  In short, the only reason for this movie to exist in terms of characters are Bruce Lee and Wong Jack Man who have a better compelling plot.

3.) As much as I love the fight choreography, I am not a fan of its cinematography.  One of the things that Wong Jack Man said was that kung fu should not be stylized; I guess the cinematographers and editors did not take that advice.  While it may not look that bad and there are times where we actually see the fights, I do not like how they keep cutting and have long shots where the characters are in the background.  Not to mention the slow-motion moments were not needed, and times where the fights suddenly cut to black.  Let us see the action up close instead from afar, and decrease the number of cuts.

 

Overall: 

Admittedly, I have not really watched many of Bruce Lee’s work throughout my life (I watched more of Jackie Chan and Jet Li’s movies) or even any movies and shows based on him.  Plus, I heard a movie about Bruce Lee coming in theaters, so I decided to check it out since it has been a while since I watched a kung fu movie.  After leaving the movie, there are plenty of things left to be desired.  I do not really mind the movie that much, but it could have been so much better.  The lore about kung fu is interesting, the conflict between the two kung fu masters is compelling, and the fight choreography reminds me of the kung fu movies of long ago.  However, the movie is driven down with a below basic narrative, uninteresting side characters, and fight cinematography that is sometimes in the same level as a below-basic action movie.  Watch it if you are fan of Bruce Lee and kung fu movies, but I get the feeling you will end up wanting to watch a Bruce Lee movie instead.

5/10

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