ByDavid Rodemerk, writer at
Watched HBO and Cinemax as a little kid before "binge-watching" was even a thing! Mom called me a TV Guide with diapers. Twitter @filmigos
David Rodemerk

When it comes to martial arts, the first name that pops into every person's head is probably Bruce Lee. His masterful fighting style and insightful teachings have influenced generations of film fans and martial arts students. In the new film Birth Of The Dragon, he's brilliantly portrayed by actor Philip Ng.

The story focuses on Bruce Lee challenging kung fu master Wong Jack Man (played by Xia Yu) to a private fight. People debate who won the fight in real life, but one outcome is not debated: this was the point when revamped his style of kung fu.

Philip Ng is the ideal choice for the role — he eats, sleeps and breathes martial arts. Here are some interesting facts that will prove Ng has the right moves for the role.

1. He Was Born in Hong Kong

When he was seven years old, his family emigrated to Chicago, Illinois, from Hong Kong. Eventually, Ng moved back to Hong Kong to study both acting and fight choreography.

2. He's Spent His Entire Life Studying Kung Fu

From a young age, Ng learned the styles of Hung Gar, Choy Lay Fut, Wing Chun Gung Fu and taekwondo thanks to his father and uncle, and later trained with Master Woon S. Shim and Sifu Wong Shun Leung. It was Sifu Wong who encouraged Ng to go back to America and teach students to become fellow practitioners and training partners. Making him even more perfect for the role, Philip Ng learned Wing Chun from Wong Shun Leung—just like Bruce Lee.

3. He Started His Own Wing Chun Association

In 1997, Philip Ng initiated the Illini Ving Tsun Association at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Sifu Philip Ng spent five years presiding over the association as both the head instructor and club president.

4. He's Already An Accomplished Martial Arts And Action Star

Philip Ng worked his butt off in the Hong Kong action movie scene. He started off as a stuntman and eventually became a featured actor. In 2014, all of his hard work paid off when he was chosen to be the lead in the martial arts film Once Upon a Time in Shanghai. He played Ma Yongzhen, a laborer who moves to Shanghai in the hope of becoming rich, but must use his kung fu skills to survive. But Ng has been acting for over a decade and a half, with an impressive filmography already under his belt, including

  • Enter the Phoenix (2004)
  • House of Fury (2005)
  • Treasure Inn (2011)
  • Mr. & Mrs. Gambler (2012)
  • Naked Soldier (2012)
  • The Man from Macau (2014)
  • Wild City (2015)

He'll also be starring in the upcoming King of Drug Dealers with Rogue One's Donnie Yen.

5. He's A Stuntman And A Stunt Choreographer

After leaving his regular job, Philip Ng pursued his dream of performing in martial arts films. While working gigs in Hong Kong, he was introduced to Chin Kar Lok, a director who was once a member Sammo Hung's stuntman team, looking for someone to help train actors. Ng became his assistant martial arts choreographer on a film. Looks like Ng put his education degree to work! Not only that, but he uses his extensive martial arts background when he's in front of the camera as much a when he's behind it. Ng does all of his own stunts, which is incredibly impressive when you check out his body of work.

And now, with Birth of a Dragon, a film inspired by a true event, he's about to become a star in the U.S. as well. There's no doubt that Philip Ng has the skills to bring Bruce Lee's infamous battle against Wong Jack Man to life.

Birth of the Dragon premieres in theaters on August 25, 2017.


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