Almost 50 years after his death, Bruce Lee remains an icon of cinema and martial arts. People still watch his classic action movies, they still buy merchandise emblazoned with his likeness, and they are still fascinated by his philosophies and teachings. And people continue to make new art about him — including an upcoming biopic directed by Ang Lee, and starring Ang Lee’s son Mason Lee in the lead role.
Ang Lee’s acclaimed films include Eat Drink Man Woman, Sense and Sensibility, The Ice Storm, Lust, Caution, Brokeback Mountain, Life of Pi, and, of course, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, one of the great martial arts films ever made. A previously written screenplay is now being reworked by Dan Futterman, who penned the scripts for Foxcatcher and Capote.
This will not be the first movie made about Bruce Lee. Far from it. Even if you don’t count the many “Bruceploitation” movies made after Lee’s death (where other actors adopted the look and mannerisms of Lee in an attempt to capitalize on his continuing popularity), there is also Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, which starred Jason Scott Lee. The film retold Bruce Lee’s life story with some supernatural elements.
Just a few years ago, there was Birth of the Dragon, starring Philip Ng as a young Bruce Lee during the years he developed his trademark fighting style.
And of course Bruce Lee appeared in a small but controversial supporting role (played by Mike Moh) in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. The scene, where Lee gets into a fight with Brad Pitt’s stuntman character, garnered an extremely negative reaction from Bruce Lee’s daughter.
In a statement, Ang Lee had this to say about why he wanted to make his own Bruce Lee biography.
Accepted as neither fully American nor Fully Chinese, Bruce Lee was a bridge between East and West who introduced Chinese Gung Fu to the world, a scientist of combat and an iconic performing artist who revolutionized both the martial arts and action cinema. I feel compelled to tell the story of this brilliant, unique human being who yearned for belonging, possessed tremendous power in a 135-pound-frame, and who, through tireless hard work, made impossible dreams into reality.
The film will be distributed by Sony Pictures.