Shannon Lee, the daughter of martial arts legend Bruce Lee, has slammed filmmaker Quentin Tarantino for portraying her father as a “caricature” in Once Upon a Time In Hollywood.
Shannon said Tarantino’s take on her father was no different from the way “white Hollywood” treated him when he was alive.
In an interview with The Wrap, she said the movie paints Lee, played by Mike Moh, as an “arrogant a**hole who was full of hot air”, something that diminishes Lee’s struggle and legacy.
“He comes across as an arrogant a**hole 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 said.
In the film, Lee challenges Brad Pitt’s stuntman character Cliff Booth to an on-set duel which eventually ends in a draw.
Shannon, 50, said it was very “uncomfortable” for her to watch the film in a theatre as everyone was laughing at her father.
“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-a** 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."
She continued, "Given how sympathetic Tarantino’s portrayal of Steve McQueen, Jay Sebring, and Sharon Tate is, I’m surprised he didn’t afford the same courtesy to Lee, the only non-white character in the film. He could have achieved the same effect -- using Bruce to make Brad Pitt’s character look tough -- without the mockery."
She said in reality her father was often challenged but he never took them seriously.
“Here, he’s the one with all the puffery and he’s the one challenging Brad Pitt. Which is not how he was,” she added.
She, however, praised Moh for his portrayal of Lee but criticised Tarantino’s decision to direct him as a “caricature”.
Lee was known for his classic martial arts movies such as Enter the Dragon and Fist of Fury. He died at the age of 32 in 1973.
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