George Nolfi Will Direct Bruce Lee Origin Story, Birth of the Dragon

file_174416_6_Bruce Lee

It's been over a year since we first heard tell of Birth of the Dragon, a new biographical film about martial arts legend Bruce Lee that will focus on his early duel with master Wong Jack Man in San Francisco in 1965. Like many projects that are announced and then disappear from the news, we suspected that the film was merely stuck in development hell and might never actually be heard from again. But that changed on Friday, when Variety announced that Birth of the Dragon had found its director: George Nolfi.

George Nolfi's name should be familiar to you. As a screenwriter he wrote The Bourne Ultimatum and Ocean's Twelve, and he wrote and directed the 2011 sci-fi thriller The Adjustment Bureau, starring Matt Damon and Emily Blunt. Nolfi also wrote the treatment on which Fox's upcoming Flash Gordon reboot will be based, and was rumored to be in contention to direct that movie as well.

He may have time to do both, if Flash Gordon gets off the ground soon. Birth of the Dragon isn't scheduled to begin filming until next spring, almost a year from now. Plenty of time to finish another movie if it goes in front of the cameras shortly, but then again, also plenty of time for something to go wrong and delay Birth of the Dragon even more.

We can only imagine that the casting of Bruce Lee will be a heavily contentious process, since the lead actor will need to be young enough to play Bruce Lee at age 25, the year before he was introduced to American audiences as the scene-stealing sidekick Kato in the TV series "The Green Hornet." Who is young enough and physically skilled enough (let alone a good enough actor) to play a young Bruce Lee? We got nothin'. He's too singular a presence, but rest assured, whomever Nolfi casts will be seriously scrutinized, for better or worse.


William Bibbiani is the editor of CraveOnline's Film Channel and the host of The B-Movies Podcast and The Blue Movies Podcast. Follow him on Twitter at @WilliamBibbiani.