Billy Magnussen (Into The Woods), Philip Ng (Once Upon A Time in Shanghai) and Yu Xia (The Painted Veil) are toplining Groundswell Productions’ Birth Of The Dragon, the pic about the legendary 1965 fight between Shaolin Master Wong Jack Man and a young Bruce Lee. Production gets underway tomorrow in Vancouver with George Nolfi (The Adjustment Bureau) directing a script by Christopher Wilkinson and Stephen J. Rivele.

This is the origin story pic originally picked up by Michael London’s Groundswell and QED International in February 2013. China-based Kylin Films is now aboard as financier and QED is no longer involved.

Philip Ng
Philip Ng
Celestial Pictures

Magnussen plays Steve McKee, a young martial arts student who becomes the point of view in the film as he is torn between Lee (Ng) and Wong (Yu) after the fight, which many consider Lee and kung fu’s coming-out party. Chinese actress Jinging Qu (Old Boys: The Way Of The Dragon) plays Magnussen’s love interest, Xiulan. The ruthless crime boss Auntie Blossom will be played by Chinese TV host Jin Xing.

The film’s action sequences will be designed by martial arts choreographer Corey Yuen (Romeo Must Die, The Expendables). It will be set in and around Oakland, where the fight took place against the backdrop of the Hong Kong Triads’ criminal control of San Francisco’s Chinatown.

London and producing partner Janice Williams are producing along with Wilkinson, Rivele and Kylin’s James H. Pang. Leo Shi Young, David Nicksay and Nolfi are executive producers, and Helen Y. Zhong, Jaeson Ma and Joel Viertel are co-producers.