July 30, 2019

Bruce Lee's Daughter Hates How 'Once Upon a Time In Hollywood' Depicts Her Dad

Quentin Tarantino's new movie has many fans, but Bruce Lee's daughter isn't one of them.

Once Upon a Time In Hollywood is both a rose-colored love letter to a Hollywood long gone and a dreamy re-interpretation of that history its director is enamored with. One person who isn't in love with Tarantino's revisionist approach is Bruce Lee's daughter. 

Shannon Lee recently spoke to The Wrap regarding the movie's depiction of her father in one of the movie's most memorable scenes: A brawl on a studio backlot between Lee (Mike Moh) and veteran stuntman Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt). The sequence, shot mostly in one take, is intended to show off how badass and skilled Booth is -- if he can take on and defeat Lee, then you don't wanna mess with him. But the late martial arts legend's offspring sees it a bit differently:

“I understand they want to make the Brad Pitt character this super badass 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,” Shannon Lee said. “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.”

Lee (who apparently wasn’t given the script in advance like Sharon Tate’s sister) saw the Oscar-winner's new film over the weekend, and, for her, “it was really uncomfortable to sit in the theater and listen to people laugh at my father. What I’m interested in is raising the consciousness of who Bruce Lee was as a human being and how he lived his life. All of that was flushed down the toilet in this portrayal, and made my father into this arrogant punching bag.”

Lee did like Moh's performance in the role of her father, but believes “he was directed to be a caricature." 

It is well-known that the real Lee was proud of his skills and his abilities. According to Moh in an interview with BirthMoviesDeath, Lee -- his favorite hero growing up -- had a unique way of looking at and treatment stuntmen. "Because Bruce didn't always have the most affection for stuntmen; he didn't respect all of them, because he was better than all the stunt guys." This aspect isn't lost on Bruce Lee biographer and author Matthew Polly either, but in a recent statement he agreed with Shannon. 

“The full scene with Bruce and Brad Pitt is far different than what was in the trailer," Polly remarked. "Bruce Lee was often a cocky, strutting, braggart, but Tarantino took those traits and exaggerated them to the point of a SNL caricature,” he said.

The lesson here is that while storytellers are prone to take certain liberties when telling stories that involve real-life people and use them as characters, it is important to consult with their kin and surviving family members for nothing else than to say you kept your side of the street clean. You did your due diligence as a filmmaker by extending common courtesy. 

At the same time, Bruce Lee's cocky, braggart ways are well-known and the movie's job is to service the main character's story -- a choice Shannon Lee acknowledges the intent of and can seemingly get behind. But the tricky part is finding a way to balance the needs of the story with respect toward the historical figures depicted in it. Being effective with those who may react with your material differently from what you intended goes a long way. 

Those are our two cents -- now, we want yours. What did you think of the scene in question? And of Lee's criticisms? Sound off in the comments!

 

Your Comment

11 Comments

Who gives a crap what Shannon Lee thinks? Truth is, she owes everything she is and has to daddy soooo, protecting the brand .. i get it. It's just a movie AND it's Tarantino... moving on....

July 30, 2019 at 9:10PM

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I guess the daughter is very complex kind of person who just want to attract some attention :D

July 30, 2019 at 11:14PM

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Jessica Cooper
Editor in Chief
80

Just what I wanted to say..

July 31, 2019 at 6:34AM

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Rick
Project manager
82

Bruce Lee is a Legend. Tarantino may be one of the great filmmakers of our time. If he has the right to make Bruce Lee look like a hot head idiot in his film then I think Shannon Lee also reserves the right to defend her Father. Nobody wants their loved ones to be portrait like an idiot on a big screen, aside from whatever agenda that have.

July 31, 2019 at 1:53AM

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kevinlee
Student
143

Not sure if you are aware, but BL was a hot head, had a huge ego and didn't treat people he perceived to be below him very well .... ESPECIALLY stuntmen. So ..there's that

July 31, 2019 at 5:12PM

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Allegedly...

August 2, 2019 at 7:03PM

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Kayode
1014

Great movie, great scene. Bruce Lee is still awesome in real life. Next.

July 31, 2019 at 9:18AM

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July 31, 2019 at 9:20AM

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Sehzadi
Jaipur escorts
1

I agree with Shannon.

July 31, 2019 at 8:32PM

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Sean Pettis
Director/DP
475

That scene was amazing. One of my favorites along w/ the little girl sitting next to Leo.

August 1, 2019 at 7:25AM

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Wow, the level of ignorance in these comments is a true reflection of how out of touch Tarantino and his fans are when it comes to inclusion and non-toxic exposure. Let's not forget- you're siding with a guy who risked Uma Thurman's life for the sake of a shot and protested like a petulant child when she protested- So yeah I'm siding with Lee- because her father doesn't deserve to have his career dragged down to Tarantino's level.

August 1, 2019 at 10:13AM

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Sketkh Williams
Actor - Storyteller
197