Kung Fu OFF-BROADWAY REVIEWS

  • NY TIMES

  • VARIETY

  • NEWSDAY

  • USA TODAY

  • TM

Opening Night:
February 24, 2014
Closing:
April 6, 2014

Theater: Signature Theatre / 555 West 42nd. St., New York, NY,

Synopsis: 

An exhilarating portrait of international icon Bruce Lee's journey from troubled Hong Kong youth to martial arts legend, Kung Fu blends dance, Chinese opera, martial arts and drama into a bold new theatrical form. This world premiere production follows Lee in America as he struggles to prove himself as a fighter, a husband, a father, and a man.

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  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF Kung Fu

    A Dragon Returns, This Time Onstage

    Charles Isherwood

    February 24, 2014: Fists fly with all the fury an action fan could want. Legs flash from the hip like lightning strikes. Twirling kicks and jabbing arms all but set your own head spinning. The fight sequences in Kung Fu, the new play about Bruce Lee by David Henry Hwang, bristle with kinetic drive and an innovative combination of dance and martial arts. In between these lively diversions, unfortunately, lie long stretches of utterly punch-free, this-is-what-happened-next drama. Mr. Hwang’s affectionate study of the life of the man who thrilled action movie fans in the 1970s with his mastery of an ancient Chinese tradition never achieves the fluid grace in its dialogue and dramaturgy that it does in its action sequences.

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  • VARIETY REVIEW OF Kung Fu

    Off Broadway Review: Bruce Lee Bio-Drama ‘Kung Fu’

    Marilyn Stasio

    February 24, 2014: Looks like Kung Fu, David Henry Hwang’s reverential homage to Bruce Lee, should have been a musical after all. Cole Horibe, Taekwondo Olympic medalist (and finalist on “So You Think You Can Dance”), is poetry in motion as the legendary martial arts master, and choreographer Sonya Tayeh has invented some astonishing moves for a (mostly) male ensemble of dazzling dancer-athletes. So long as Horibe and the guys are airborne, they have our rapt attention. But this sprawling bio-dram lacks a cohesive narrative structure, and there’s no dramatic objective to all the fancy footwork.

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  • NEWSDAY REVIEW OF Kung Fu

    'Kung Fu' review: Bruce Lee's off-screen battles

    STEVE PARKS

    February 24, 2014: As we meet Bruce Lee, he's deploying his moves on a Japanese-American girl after a martial-arts workout. She'd be impressed except that he's Chinese-American. "Over here," she says, meaning America, "Chinese guys do laundry and wait tables. Better get used to it." David Henry Hwang's defiant Kung Fu, which opened last night at Signature Theatre, is all about R-E-S-P-E-C-T. (We half expect an Aretha Franklin serenade.) In his New York stage debut, Cole Horibe, season 9 second runner-up on Fox-TV's "So You Think You Can Dance," flashes his fists and feet almost as fast as his taut smile. But, as Lee, nothing wipes that grimace/grin off Horibe's face so quickly as flashbacks with Bruce's father, a Chinese opera clown played by Francis Jue with an unrelenting mantra of reproach.

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  • USA TODAY REVIEW OF Kung Fu

    Bruce Lee's story is movingly portrayed in 'Kung Fu'

    Elysa Gardner

    February 25, 2014: In the first scene of Kung Fu (*** out of four), David Henry Hwang's new play about the iconic martial artist Bruce Lee, the central character is trying to pick up a girl. It's 1959, and Patty, as she is introduced, is a Japanese-American college student and aspiring modern dancer, enamored of Martha Graham. Bruce has come to Seattle from Hong Kong, bringing with him a different set of influences and experiences. But before she blows him off, he shows her a few moves — and she returns the favor, their bodies communicating both tension and grace. "You're not my type," Patty finally tells Bruce, explaining, "I usually date Americans." He presses on. "In China, many hero!" he insists in slightly broken English, to which she responds, "Maybe in Hong Kong, but not here."

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  • THEATERMANIA REVIEW OF Kung Fu

    Kung Fu

    David Gordon

    February 24, 2014: The life of martial arts legend Bruce Lee seems like it would be a natural fit for David Henry Hwang, a playwright whose canon of work largely examines Asian masculinity and the ways in which Chinese-Americans reconcile their cultural and adopted homes. After all, Lee's actual experiences parallel these two aspects: He was raised in China and sent to America by his parents (where he found notoriety as a performer), but he could achieve his greatest success only after returning to Hong Kong. Hwang first attempted to put Lee's life onstage as a musical, collaborating with the composer-lyricist David Yazbek on the announced-for-Broadway title Bruce Lee: Journey to the West. Like many projects, that was eventually scrapped, with Hwang, the award-winning author of M. Butterfly, Golden Child, and Chinglish, seeking a different way into the story. The result is Kung Fu, Hwang's long-awaited Bruce Lee bio-play, directed by Leigh Silverman as the final entry in Hwang's residency at Signature Theatre.

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