Bruce Lee’s daughter hits out at father’s portrayal in Tarantino film

Shannon Lee says that actor depicting Lee was directed to be a caricature in Quentin Tarantinos Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Bruce Lees daughter, Shannon, has hit out at the portrayal of her father in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Quentin Tarantinos new film set in the late 1960s film industry, saying it was disheartening and uncomfortable.


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Speaking to the Wrap, Shannon Lee said: [Bruce Lee] 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.

She added: It was really uncomfortable to sit in the theatre and listen to people laugh at my father.

Lee, who died in 1973, achieved major film stardom in the early 70s via a string of Hong Kong-produced martial arts films, after years of trying and failing to interest Hollywood in his projects. He is portrayed in Tarantinos film by Mike Moh, who Lee claims was directed to be a caricature.

Bruce Lee in the 1973 film Enter the Dragon. Photograph: Allstar/Warner Bros

Criticism of Lees treatment in the film centres on a scene where he challenges stunt performer Cliff Booth (played by Brad Pitt) to a fight, in an encounter where Booth appears to get the better of him. According to Shannon Lee, Bruce a trainer of many Hollywood figures, including Steve McQueen, Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate avoided fighting people who were not martial arts experts. [But] here, hes the one with all the puffery and hes the one challenging Brad Pitt. Which is not how he was.

I can understand all the reasoning behind what is portrayed in the movie. I understand that the two [lead] characters are antiheroes, and this is sort of like a rage fantasy of what would happen and theyre portraying a period that clearly had a lot of racism and exclusion, she said. I understand they want to make the Brad Pitt character this super-badass who could beat up Bruce Lee. But they didnt need to treat him in the way that white Hollywood did when he was alive.

The Guardian has contacted Quentin Tarantino for a response.

Tarantino has been a vocal admirer of Bruce Lee, most notably dressing Uma Thurman in a replica of Lees yellow jumpsuit in his two-part martial arts film Kill Bill.


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Shannon Lee is president of the Bruce Lee Foundation, CEO of Bruce Lee Entertainment and is an executive producer on the 2019 TV show Warrior, based on one of her fathers unmade projects.

Lee added: What Im 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.

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