The Big Picture
- The upcoming Bruce Lee biopic will focus on the period around the making of “Enter the Dragon” due to the dramatic and conflict-filled events during that time.
- The biopic will have a non-narrative structure and explore various thematic threads, providing a kaleidoscopic journey through Bruce Lee’s life.
- Mason Lee, Ang Lee’s son, will portray Bruce Lee in the film, but production will not begin until after the ongoing WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes are resolved.
When a world-renewed director like Ang Lee (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) settles down to work on a biopic, you can be sure that chances are you’ll be seeing a movie that will become a reference for masterpieces. One of the most important decisions that needed to be made for the still-untitled Bruce Lee biopic is regarding the structure of the martial arts legend’s life story: Should it follow the traditional birth-rise-fall-comeback-death convention? Or try a different approach? According to the upcoming movie’s producer Lawrence Grey, it’s the latter.
At TIFF for his latest movie Pain Hustlers, Grey spoke with our Editor-in-Chief Steve Weintraub that while he was working with Ang Lee on the Bruce Lee biopic, the duo realized that the centerpiece of the Lee’s story had to be the final movie that the martial arts legend starred in, Enter the Dragon. He explained:
“What we realized was that the time period of Bruce’s life around the making of ‘Enter the Dragon’ was a moment where so many different thematic threads were connecting, and there was a confluence of an incredible amount of drama and conflict in his life. So, we use that as sort of an axis around which to revolve his world. From there, I think the director would say it’s a kaleidoscopic journey through his life. It has a traditional non-narrative structure and is really thematically and experientially connected.”
Even though Enter the Dragon was a career-defining title in Lee’s filmography and one of the most profitable movies ever made, it also had a tragic follow-up: Lee died less than a month after the movie’s release. The movie has since been hailed as a cinema masterpiece and is still used as a reference for martial arts movies. Aside from the Ang Lee biopic, Bruce Lee’s story will also be told in the anime series House of Lee.
While further details on the Bruce Lee biopic are slim, aside from knowing who will direct, it’s also been disclosed that Ang Lee’s son Mason Lee will embody the legendary martial artist and star in the movie. Since there’s a WGA and SAG-AFTRA strike in place, we also know that the project won’t move forward until the AMPTP offers the striking labor force a fair deal. But Grey also revealed that the movie should be able to begin filming soon after the strikes are resolved.
Fans of Bruce Lee have plenty of material to watch or re-watch while they wait, though. There are Bruce Lee movies and series like The Green Hornet themselves to other movies and series that were directly influenced by Lee’s work. Quentin Tarantino is also a great enthusiast of Lee’s work, making Kill Bill Vol.1 chock-full of references and even putting Lee “himself” (played by Mike Moh) in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. There’s also the Ip Man film series, that tells the story of the martial arts master who taught Bruce Lee everything he knew.
Stay tuned for our full conversation with Grey and don’t miss the rest of our coverage from TIFF 2023.