Quentin Tarantino may have scored a big hit with Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, but at least one person isn't at all happy with the filmmaker's latest. Shannon Lee, the daughter of martial arts legend Bruce Lee, is very displeased with the way her father was portrayed in Tarantino's movie. While many have praised actor Mike Moh's performance as Bruce Lee, that's not where the issue lies for the late actor's daughter.
Warning: minor spoilers ahead for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. The major scene Bruce Lee is featured in the movie sees him at odds with Brad Pitt's stunt man character Cliff Booth. The scene takes place while Lee was filming The Green Hornet TV series. Lee is talking to various bystanders about Cassius Clay, aka Muhammad Ali, and feels he could take the boxer in a fight. Cliff takes exception to this and, after trading insults, the two decide to fight it out in a best two-out-of-three fight. Lee easily wins the first round, but then Booth knocks Lee into a car the second round. It's broken up before the third round can take place. Shannon Lee had this to say in a recent interview.
"I can understand all the reasoning behind what is portrayed in the movie. I understand that the two characters are antiheroes and this is sort of like a rage fantasy of what would happen... and they're portraying a period of time that clearly had a lot of racism and exclusion. I understand they want to make the Brad Pitt character this super bad-ass who could beat up Bruce Lee. But they didn't need to treat him in the way that white Hollywood did when he was alive."
Shannon Lee took exception to it because her father had to work "triple hard" to get where he got in the business, when compared to other, white actors. She also added she was "really uncomfortable" hearing people laugh at her father in a theater. Lee's daughter also didn't like that her father was portrayed as an instigator by Quentin Tarantino.
"Here, he's the one with all the puffery and he's the one challenging Brad Pitt. Which is not how he was."
Bruce Lee remains one of the most iconic action stars of all time. Some of his more notable works include Enter the Dragon and Game of Death. Mike Moh has received a great deal of acclaim for his portrayal, and even Shannon Lee felt he did a fine job, only that he was directed to come off as a "caricature," Author Matthew, who wrote the book Bruce Lee: A Life, also wasn't impressed and had this to say.
"The full scene with Bruce and Brad Pitt is far different than what was in the trailer. Bruce Lee was often a cocky, strutting, braggart, but Tarantino took those traits and exaggerated them to the point of a 'SNL' caricature."
Part of the issue for Shannon Lee is that she's spent a sizable amount of time trying to preserve her father's legacy. She does this through BruceLee.com, her podcast and the Bruce Lee Foundation. Unfortunately, she feels Quentin Tarantino did a lot of damage with his critically-heralded picture of late 1960s Hollywood.
"What I'm interested in is raising the consciousness of who Bruce Lee was as a human being and how he lived his life. All of that was flushed down the toilet in this portrayal, and made my father into this arrogant punching bag."
Quentin Tarantino, as of this writing, has not responded to the comments made by Shannon Lee. Controversy or not, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is off to a great start critically and commercially. It earned the highest opening of Tarantino's career over the weekend with $41 million. This news was first reported by The Wrap.