Bruce Lee Entertainment, a company run by Lee’s daughter Shannon Lee will be producing ‘Little Dragon‘, an official authorized bio-pic of the martial arts legend…
The the newly announced film will be directed by Shekhar Kapur (Elizabeth, New York I Love You).
“Little Dragon is a contemporary dramatization of the 1950s Hong Kong social and political forces that shaped Bruce Lee into both the most famous martial arts star of all time and a significant modern day philosopher. Themes include family disappointment, young love, true friendship, betrayal, racism, deep poverty and an inner fire that threatened to unravel his destiny.I always thought that a film about how my father’s life was shaped in his early years in Hong Kong would be a worthwhile story to share so we could better understand him as a human being and a warrior,” said Lee. “I’m really excited that Shekhar will breathe life into the first film from Bruce Lee Entertainment.”
Little Dragon will be the latest in a long line of films and TV series that have tried to tell the story of Bruce Lee’s life. While many of the Bruce’sploitation/Bruce Lee Clones movies told fanciful tales of Lee’s life and times (where… drumroll… he fought ninjas and everyone else!), one of the best explorations of Lee’s life was in Ng See-yuen’s Bruce Lee, The Man The Myth which saw Bruce Li (Ho Tsung-tao) playing the Little Dragon in a pretty accurate representation of Lee’s life.
The early 90s saw the production of Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story with Jason Scott Lee playing Bruce, based on Linda Lee’s recollections of her husband and with Shannon Lee making a cameo as a singer during a party scene. 2010 saw the release of Bruce Lee: My Brother starring Aarif Lee, produced with the full support of Bruce’s brother, Robert Lee and which explored Lee’s early life and times. Most recently Philip Ng (Once Upon a Time in Shanghai) played the character in the soon-to-be-released Birth of the Dragon.
While Shannon has been quite open with her criticism of certain projects such as Bruce Lee: My Brother and Birth of the Dragon, there has also been controversy over the way Lee’s name and image has been re-marketed and licensed by the Bruce Lee Estate itself for certain advertising and products. The last Bruce Lee adaptation that was produced with the blessing and cooperation of the Bruce Lee Estate, was CCTV’s Legend of Bruce Lee TV series which saw Danny Chan (Shaolin Soccer) playing the Little Dragon in a show that seemed every bit as exploitative and inaccurate as any of the Bruce Lee Clones projects. It gave the late lamented ATV‘s Young Bruce Lee series from the early 1990s a run for its money in tackiness and inaccuracies. (Basically, The Legend of Bruce Lee was like a compilation of Bruce Li and Bruce Le fictionalized moments from Bruce Lee’s life, being sold as ‘this is the true story!‘ when it very much wasn’t!
We have our reservations but here’s hoping Kapur – who is supposed to be co-scripting along with Shannon herself – is able to deliver on the still as yet untapped potential of a Bruce Lee biopic. We know the old saying that when choosing between the true story and the legend, ‘go with the legend’, but when the subject in question’s real life is a legend…wouldn’t it be nice to see that?
No word yet with regards to cast or crew, action choreographers etc, and they are aiming for a provisional July start date, so expect more news shortly.
In the meantime here’s the trailer for the best Bruce Lee bio-pic so far, Bruce Lee The Man The Myth….