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Bruce Lee's Daughter Has Bone to Pick With Tarantino

Shannon Lee doesn't like how her father was portrayed in 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood'
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 30, 2019 4:32 PM CDT
Shannon Lee, daughter of Bruce Lee and president of the "Bruce Lee Foundation," poses for photographers during a press conference launching instant drinks in her father’s name in Hong Kong, Monday, Nov....   (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

(Newser) – Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood may be popular with both critics and audiences, there's at least one person who's not happy with the film: Bruce Lee's daughter. The iconic martial artist is played by Mike Moh in Tarantino's film, and (spoiler alert) there's a scene involving a fight between Lee and Cliff Booth, the stuntman character played by Brad Pitt. Shannon Lee doesn't like the way her father is portrayed in that scene, particularly the idea that her father—who, in reality, tried to avoid fights—would challenge someone to a fight, the Wrap reports. "It was really uncomfortable to sit in the theater and listen to people laugh at my father," she tells the site. "He comes across as an arrogant asshole who was full of hot air." She adds that the real Bruce Lee, as an Asian-American in Hollywood in the 1960s, had to work a lot harder than people like the white protagonists of Tarantino's film in order to be taken seriously.

"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," she continues. "But they didn’t need to treat [Lee] in the way that white Hollywood did when he was alive." Bruce Lee expert Matthew Polly agrees, and adds to the Wrap, "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." In a separate piece at the Inverse, Eric Francisco has similar criticism: "How Tarantino uses and clowns the martial arts legend for his story is an unflattering version of Bruce Lee that feels several steps backward in the midst of slow-moving progress." (Read more Quentin Tarantino stories.)

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