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Bruce Lee biopic: Ang Lee’s son, Mason Lee, trained for five years for the lead role

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Bruce Lee biopic: Ang Lee’s son, Mason Lee, trained for five years for the lead role 1

Recently, it has been announced that Academy Award-winning filmmaker Ang Lee is directing a new biopic of the martial arts legend, Bruce Lee, and Ang’s son, Mason Lee, will be filling the shoes of the Dragon. The producer of the yet-to-be-named film, Lawrence Grey, spoke with Collider recently at the Toronto International Film Festival about Mason getting the larger-than-life role. “Early on, Ang introduced me to his son, Mason Lee, who’s a very accomplished actor—particularly works a lot in China, although he’s been in some very successful American films—and he is a spitting image of Bruce. We had that in our pockets, and said, ‘Okay, we don’t wanna be producers who succumb to nepotism. We’ll put that aside.’ And then, we did a worldwide search all across Asia and North America, and we didn’t find anyone as compelling as Mason.”

Grey, then, revealed that Mason had been in training to portray Bruce for five years, “The advantage that we also had to Mason [was], as you pointed out, this project’s been being developed closely for many years, and we were able, for five years, to train Mason and turn him from the early days where he’s a very fine actor, but clearly the son of a very successful Hollywood director, to a stone-cold killer.” He emphasized that it was important for Mason to emulate Bruce’s killer instinct, “I mean, anyone who can fight like Bruce Lee is a maniac, is a killer. And through that process of training, through reading all of Bruce’s material, training in the various martial arts he trained in, we were really able to hone that in.”

The producer also revealed that this upcoming film will concentrate on the period during the production of Enter the Dragon. “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.”

For such a cinematic icon as Bruce Lee, there have been numerous attempts to tell his life story that resulted in various degrees of accuracy. The most recognized biopic may be the 90’s film Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story; however, it’s been criticized for the liberties it took with the many details from Lee’s actual story. The more recent Birth of the Dragon by the writer of The Bourne Ultimatum and The Adjustment Bureau, George Nofi, drew much controversy from Bruce Lee purists for the inaccurate portrayal of a major event in Lee’s life.

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