Bruce Lee’s Daughter Slams Depiction of Her Father in ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is off to the biggest start of Quentin Tarantino’s career, but the film is not without controversy. Some viewers have objected to various elements of the movie’s story, including its depiction of Bruce Lee. The iconic martial artist and actor appears in a flashback (or perhaps a fantasy?) involving Brad Pitt’s stuntman character, Cliff Booth. (Minor spoilers for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood follow.)
Cliff recalls an incident on the set of The Green Hornet, which starred Lee as the title character’s sidekick, Kato. Holding court on set in between shots, Lee’s arrogance rubs Cliff the wrong way, and a verbal encounter builds to an actual fistfight. Lee knocks Cliff around, then Cliff tosses Lee into a car. Eventually the tussle is ended before a clear winner can be determined.
Shannon Lee, Bruce Lee’s daughter, was among those displeased with the sequence. She told TheWrap it was “really uncomfortable to sit in the theater and listen to people laugh at my father.” She also added:
He comes across as an arrogant asshole who was full of hot air, and not someone who had to fight triple as hard as any of those people did to accomplish what was naturally given to so many others.
The man who plays Bruce Lee in this scene, Mike Moh, told Birth.Movies.Death. he reveres Lee as a real-life “superhero” and notes that “Bruce didn't always have the most affection for stuntmen [like Cliff Booth]; he didn't respect all of them, because he was better than all the stunt guys.” Moh imagines that after this fight with Cliff, Lee is “going to go back and refine his Jeet June Do and become the legend or a stronger version of himself because of this encounter with Cliff.”
Moh also acknowledges that some “people are going to be up in arms about” the sequence. It does serve an important purpose in the film, though. As Moh notes, it’s one of the earliest clues we’re given that Cliff is a deadly guy when he wants to be, something that becomes important later in the film. I think it’s also worth noting that this entire exchange is either a fantasy or a memory filtered through Cliff’s perspective; the fight went down this way in his mind, but that doesn’t mean Bruce Lee would have remembered it this exact way. But Bruce Lee isn’t my actual father. It’s easy to see why Shannon Lee would be unhappy with how her father is treated by Tarantino.
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