Tarantino Responds to Criticism Bruce Lee Depiction in OUATIH

Lawrence Kim
August 14, 2019

For instance, there's been debate about Bruce Lee's depiction in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, with Lee's daughter saying that her father came off as an "arrogant asshole" in the movie, and Lee's protégé Dan Inosanto saying taking issue with derogatory comments Mike Moh's Lee made about Muhammad Ali.

Basically, the scene with Bruce Lee - played by Mike Moh - sees him and Brad Pitt fighting one another after a bit of smack-talk.

Tarantino also opined whether Brad Pitt's character Cliff Booth could defeat Bruce Lee in hand-to-hand combat.

While Tarantino's new film has drawn in both praise and criticisms from viewers, it appears those who are the most knowledgeable on Lee's legacy believe his portrayal to be not only inaccurate but insulting.

Tarantino broke his silence on the matter during the Moscow press conference for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, defending how he depicted Lee in the film and arguing that the portrayal was representative of reality.

Tarantino concluded by explaining that Bruce Lee would absolutely kill Cliff in a martial arts tournament in Madison Square Garden, but that Cliff would easily get the upper hand if the two were squaring off in the jungles of the Philippines. "The way he was talking, I didn't just make a lot of that up". And I kind of openly lament that to him, but he understands the math of when he feels like directors start falling off their game. "People say, 'he never said he could beat up Muhammad Ali.' Yes, he did".

The biography Tarantino references is titled "Bruce Lee: The Man Only I Knew", which Lee's widow, Linda Lee, published in 1978. If I say Cliff can beat Bruce Lee up, he's a fictional character so he could beat Bruce Lee up. "He's a fictional character, it's the same as asking if Bruce Lee would win in a fight with Dracula". Tarantino defended this as an artistic choice to show that Pitt's character was a warrior who has lived combat.

Lee's fans are also upset over scenes in Once Upon A Time where the icon can not hold his own against Pitt's character. He has killed many men in World War II in hand to hand combat. Maybe he was cocky in as far as martial arts because he was very sure of himself.

He is now promoting Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, which is his ninth venture, following cult classics such as Kill Bill, Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction and Inglorious Bastards. What he admires is combat, and boxing is a closer approximation of combat as a sport ... Cliff is not even part of the sport that is like combat; he is a warrior. "Brad would not be able to beat up Bruce Lee, but Cliff maybe could", Tarantino said. "He is a combat person", Tarantino said. "That feeling has stayed with me my whole life".

In July, Lee's daughter Sharon had told Variety, "He was continuously marginalized and treated like kind of a nuisance of a human being by white Hollywood, which is how he's treated in the film by Quentin Tarantino".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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