KUALA LUMPUR, May 10 ― An authorised biographical film on martial arts legend Bruce Lee’s younger days will be shot in Malaysia, while an Oscar-nominated director will direct a Hollywood movie on Sarawak colonial rulers.
Shannon Lee, the daughter of the martial artist and co-scriptwriter of the biopic, reportedly carried out new research on her late father’s youth and formative years.
“I always thought that a film about how my father’s life was shaped in his early years in Hong Kong would be a worthwhile story to share so we could better understand him as a human being and a warrior,” she was quoted saying in a statement by US entertainment magazine Variety’s portal.
According to Variety, the film is currently in pre-production and shooting in Malaysia is expected to begin from July.
The film Little Dragon ― the English translation of Bruce Lee’s Chinese screen name Lee Xiao Loong ― will be the first film under Shannon’s production house, Bruce Lee Entertainment, and will be co-produced with US company Convergence Entertainment.
Indian filmmaker Shekhar Kapu has been named the movie’s executive producer and co-scriptwriter.
“It is important that audiences today can relate their own lives to the journey of Bruce Lee, who manages to tap into his inner wisdom and harness his true destiny before it was too late,” Shekhar was quoted saying in a statement by Variety.
He was also quoted saying by The Hollywood Reporter that the film ― depicting Lee’s life in Hong Kong during the 1950s ― will be “a contemporary take on Bruce Lee who, aside from being considered the most gifted and famous martial artist of all time, is now accepted as a major philosopher in his own right”.
The film which will also be shot in China will depict Lee coping with “his family’s disappointment, young love, true friendship, betrayal, racism, deep hardship and the inner fire that threatens to unravel his destiny, The Hollywood Reporter said.
Hollywood casting director Mary Vernieu was also reported to be in charge of a global hunt for an actor to play Lee in his teenage years for the movie.
Sergei Bodrov, who is a two-time Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language Film, will reportedly direct the Hollywood movie on Sarawak’s first Rajah, Sir James Brooke.
According to the film producer and scriptwriter Rob Allyn, the movie The White Rajah will also feature locals scouted from Malaysia.
“Bodrov’s goal is to make a culturally authentic and thrilling historical adventure, and he has a history of directing great performances by non-actors in his past Oscar-nominated films. So in ‘White Rajah’, we will combine big-name Hollywood stars with the local talent we can find in Sarawak, Malaysia and the region,” he was quoted saying by local daily The Borneo Post.
Citing a press release, the paper reported that Bodrov had recently visited sites in Sarawak together with Allyn and Brooke Heritage Trust trustee Jason Brooke.
“We love the idea of using the Sarawak Cultural Village to make our film, both as a possible shooting location but also to cast their phenomenally-talented actors, dancers, musicians and martial artists to perform in our film,” Allyn was quoted saying.
The places that they reportedly visited include the Sarawak Cultural Village, Siniawan, Bako National Park, Santubong, Semenggoh Wildlife Centre, and Annah Rais longhouse.
They also went to Kuching’s Sarawak Museum, Main Bazaar, Carpenter Street and the historical residence of a character who will be featured in the movie, Bishop Francis Thomas McDougall.
The Borneo Post said Sarawak has approved shooting for the film in mid 2018.
It was reported last September that the producers are also planning to build a full-scale replica of the ship on which James Brooke sailed to Sarawak and the vessel would be left in the state as a heritage attraction.