Quentin Tarantino defends portrayal of ‘arrogant’ Bruce Lee in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

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Quentin Tarantino has defended his depiction of Bruce Lee in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, saying the martial arts legend was ‘kind of an arrogant guy’.

Lee’s daughter Shannon hit out at the film, saying that the movie portrays her late father 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’.

In Once Upon A Time…, Lee – played by Mike Moh – challenges Brad Pitt’s character Cliff Booth to a fight on the set of The Green Hornet, claiming he could knock out Muhammad Ali and calling his fists ‘lethal weapons’.

However, Tarantino insists that the character was based on fact.

Speaking at a press junket in Moscow, the director said: ‘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.’

The 56-year-old added: ‘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.’

Shannon – Lee’s only surviving child following Brandon’s death in 1993 – shared her grievances of the film in an open letter, in which she said it was ‘uncomfortable’ to see viewers laughing at her father.

The 50-year-old wrote: ‘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 want to make the Brad Pitt character this super bad-ass 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.’

While Tarantino defended the characterisation of Lee in his film, he did tweak the fight scene after hearing Brad Pitt’s concerns.

The film’s co-stunt coordinator Robert Alonzo explained to HuffPost UK: ‘I know that Brad had expressed his concerns, and we all had concerns about Bruce losing.

‘Especially for me, as someone who has looked up to Bruce Lee as an icon, not only in the martial-arts realm, but in the way he approached philosophy and life, to see your idol be beaten is very disheartening… I had a difficult time choreographing a fight where he lost.’

Lee, best known for his films Enter The Dragon, Fist Of Fury and The Game Of Death, died aged 32 in 1973.

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