Bruce Lee's Daughter on Tarantino: 'He Could Shut Up'

She responds to filmmaker's statement on her criticism of 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood'
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 15, 2019 11:05 AM CDT
Bruce Lee's Daughter on Tarantino: 'He Could Shut Up'
In this Nov. 24, 2014, file photo, Shannon Lee, daughter of Bruce Lee, poses for photographers during a press conference launching instant drinks in her father's name in Hong Kong.   (AP Photo/Vincent Yu, File)

The feud between Bruce Lee's daughter and Quentin Tarantino continues. Shannon Lee last month called out the filmmaker for the way her father is portrayed in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and Tarantino responded this month at a press junket when asked about her criticism that Tarantino had incorrectly depicted him as "an arrogant asshole who was full of hot air." His take on her accusations, per Variety:

  • "Bruce Lee was kind of an arrogant guy. The way he was talking, I didn't just make a lot of that up. I heard him say things like that, to that effect. If people are saying, 'Well, he never said he could beat up Muhammad Ali.' Well, yeah, he did. Not only did he say that, but his wife, Linda Lee, said that in her first biography I ever read. She absolutely said that."
  • He also defended his decision to have Brad Pitt's character, stuntman Cliff Booth, take on the character of Lee. "Could Cliff beat up Bruce Lee? Brad would not be able to beat up Bruce Lee, but Cliff maybe could. If you ask me the question, 'Who would win in a fight: Bruce Lee or Dracula?' It's the same question. It's a fictional character. If I say Cliff can beat Bruce Lee up, he's a fictional character, so he could beat Bruce Lee up."
Read on for Shannon Lee's response.

Now Shannon Lee is responding to that, also via Variety:

  • First of all, she notes, "one of the things that’s troubling in his response is that, on the one hand, he wants to put this forward as fact and, on the other hand, he wants to stay in fiction. ... [Tarantino] can portray Bruce Lee however he wanted to, and he did. But it's a little disingenuous for him to say, 'Well, this is how he was, but this is a fictional movie, so don't worry too much about it.'"
  • She adds that her father was not a "perfect man" and that his confidence might have appeared to be arrogance, but it's typically other white men who criticize him the way Tarantino is. (As for Tarantino's reference to Linda Lee Cadwell's book, it was actually a critic quoted in the book, not Lee Cadwell, who says Lee could have beat Ali in a fight.)
  • The bottom line, Shannon Lee says of Tarantino, is: "He could shut up about it. That would be really nice. Or he could apologize or he could say, 'I don't really know what Bruce Lee was like. I just wrote it for my movie. But that shouldn't be taken as how he really was.'"
  • At Jezebel, Hazel Cills is firmly on Team Lee: "Considering Tarantino has mined Lee's work for years now (the most egregious being Game of Death's influence on Kill Bill, yellow jumpsuit and all), maybe it's time for him to step back, way back, on talking about Lee."
As for Mike Moh, the actor who played Lee in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, he said earlier this month that as far as he's concerned, Pitt's character doesn't win the fight in the film: "I can see how people might think Bruce got beat because of the impact with the car—but you give me five more seconds and Bruce would have won. So I know people are going to be up in arms about it, but when I went into my deep dive of studying Bruce, he more than anybody wanted people to know he's human. And I think I respect him more knowing that he had these challenges, these obstacles, just like everybody." (More Bruce Lee stories.)

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