Controversy surrounds Bruce Lee’s depiction in Quentin Tarantino’s latest film “Once upon a Time in Hollywood”

Director Quentin Tarantino’s “Once upon a Time in Hollywood” attracted criticism with controversy over his depiction of Bruce Lee in this latest production.

While the film is enjoying a fairly positive reception since it hit the theatres a little over two weeks ago, Tarantino has had a lot to answer for.

Like most of his films, this one too is not without the usual controversy but it is even more contentious as it got Lee’s daughter, his protégé, and fans unhappy with him.

The movie features Mike Moh as Bruce Lee and Brad Pitt as stuntman Cliff Booth, was released on July 26.

The risk-taking director, known for hits like “Kill Bill”, “Pulp Fiction” and “Django Unchained”, is accused by Lee’s daughter Shannon Lee, Lee’s protégé Dan Inosanto, and Matthew Polly —who wrote the kung fu king’s biography— of wrongly portraying the kung fu master as arrogant.

Lee, played by Moh, had a scene in the movie where he says that he could beat champion boxer Muhammad Ali.

But Tarantino, who was promoting the movie in Moscow, wouldn’t back down from his decision over how to portray Lee, remarking that he was not promoting any sort of fiction.

“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,” said Tarantino.

“Not only did he say that but his wife, Linda Lee, said that in her first biography I ever read. She absolutely said that.”

Inosanto and Shannon fought back, airing their comments to publication Variety.

“He was never, in my opinion, cocky. Maybe he was cocky in as far as martial arts because he was very sure of himself. He was worlds ahead of everyone else.

But on a set, he’s not gonna show off,” said Inosanto, in defence of his master.

“Bruce Lee would have never said anything derogatory about Muhammad Ali because he worshiped the ground Muhammad Ali walked on,” added Inosanto.

Shannon, too, defended her father, noting that white Hollywood’s portrayal of the late Lee was not accurate.

“He was continuously marginalized and treated like kind of a nuisance of a human being by white Hollywood, which is how he’s treated in the film by Quentin Tarantino,” said Shannon.

Polly, author of “Bruce Lee: A Life”, clarified in an interview with USA Today that while the martial arts hero was “often a cocky, strutting braggart, Tarantino took those traits and exaggerated them to the point of caricature”.

Lee’s fans are angry too, thanks to scenes in the new film where Lee lost a round to Pitt’s character, stuntman Booth, in a fight where the goal is to knock the opponent to the ground.

Lee wins the first round with a straight kick to Booth’s chest, Booth wins the second round by throwing Lee into the side of a car, and the third round is interrupted, thus ending the match with a tie.

“Could Cliff beat up Bruce Lee? Brad Pitt would not be able to beat up Bruce Lee, but Cliff maybe could. 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,” rebounded Tarantino.

Even Moh was unsure of how the scene played out, mentioning in another interview that he was at first concerned when he read the script.

But he agreed with Tarantino’s point that the fight scene between Lee and Booth was necessary to prove how dangerous Booth is.

Tarantino loves taking risks, and his depiction of Bruce Lee in “Once upon a Time in Hollywood” is no exception. /TISG