The milieu from which Bruce Lee emerged to become the world’s first martial-arts superstar — both as a film performer and a proponent-teacher — was probably as fascinating as the man himself. The screenwriters Stephen J. Rivele and Christopher Wilkinson and the director George Nolfi only intermittently manage to breathe credible cinematic life into that milieu in “Birth of the Dragon,” which is set in late ’60s San Francisco, where, the movie tells us, Lee taught kung fu. (It was actually Oakland.)
不管是作为电影演员，还是武术倡导者和宗师，李小龙都是一名巨星，不过，他成为世界上第一位超级武打巨星时的社会背景，可能和他本人一样引人注目。在《龙之诞生》(Birth of the Dragon)中，编剧斯蒂芬·J·里维尔(Stephen J. Rivele)和克里斯托弗·威尔金森(Christopher Wilkinson)以及导演乔治·诺尔菲(George Nolfi)只是断断续续地将有据可查的银幕生活融入这一背景。故事设定在60年代末的旧金山，影片称李小龙就是在那里传授功夫的（实际上是在奥克兰）。
The movie’s linchpin is a real-life battle between Lee (Philip Ng) and a Shaolin monk, Wong Jack Man (Yu Xia), which an opening title says was reputed to have been spurred by Wong’s objection to Lee’s “kung fu for all” ethos. In the movie’s view, Lee’s real problem is his bluff arrogance. Wong’s approach is more spiritual, less egocentric. This attracts one of Lee’s white students, the overly aggressive Steve (Billy Magnussen), who happens to be in love with a young Asian immigrant who’s being groomed for a concubine’s life by a female boss. Steve can’t fight for her, but the boss is interested in staging an event that can generate some gambling profits. You see where this is going. For the sake of their pal, Wong and Lee agree to test each other in battle. It’s clear that Wong is right about Lee’s egotism being a limitation, but the question is whether Lee will get it.
该片的主线是李小龙（伍允龙[Philip Ng]饰）和少林和尚黄泽民（夏雨饰）在现实生活中的真实决斗，在片头的叙述称，决斗的起因是黄质疑李小龙“全民功夫”理念。按照该片的观点，李小龙真正的问题在于他虚张声势的傲慢。黄泽民更注重精神，不那么以自我为中心。这吸引了李小龙的白人学生、过于好斗的史蒂夫（比利·马格努森[Billy Magnussen]饰），此人碰巧爱上了一名年轻亚裔移民女子，而一名女老板正在引诱这名女子走上做姨太太的道路。史蒂夫不能为她抗争，但那个老板想策划一个活动，从中谋取赌博利润。你能猜到故事的走向。为了他们的朋友，黄泽民和李小龙同意比试一场。黄泽民认为李小龙以自我为中心是他的一个局限这个看法，显然是正确的，问题是李小龙能否明白这一点。
The “West Side Story” romance angle is the least interesting part of the movie, so it’s frustrating that so much time is spent on it. “Birth of the Dragon” is ambitious: It wants to be a character study, an explication of martial arts philosophy and an action picture. (The battle scenes are presented in a mix of slow motion with super-clear fast-shutter shots and they’re not always enhanced by this approach.) But the film never really gets fully juiced until the climax, when rivalries are put aside and the two very charismatic leads get on the same side to kick some righteous butt.
《西区故事》(West Side Story)式的浪漫桥段是该片最无趣的部分，所以影片在这上面花费那么多时间令人沮丧。《龙之诞生》是有野心的：它想集人物研究、武术哲学阐释和武打于一身（武打场面通过慢动作和超清晰的高速快门拍摄呈现，但这种方式并不总能提升效果）。不过，该片在高潮之前一直都不是很有趣，在高潮部分，这两位极具魅力的领袖不再对抗，而是同仇敌忾，伸张正义。