Bruce Lee’s daughter Shannon Lee has criticized her father’s portrayal in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood following its US release. In a recent interview, she has described it as “disheartening” and “really uncomfortable” to watch.
Inhumans star Mike Moh has featured as the martial arts icon in Quentin Tarantino’s much anticipated film.
Shannon’s criticism refers to the particular scene of the film where Brad Pitt’s stuntman character Cliff Booth who exchanges insults with Bruce Lee (Moh) and the pair agree to fight informally.
Watrning; detailed spoiler ahead! In the film, stuntman Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) recalls an incident that had got him booted off a TV production. On the set of The Green Hornet (a real show on which Lee played Kato, a martial artist sidekick to the show’s primary hero), the film imagines a scenario in which Lee is bragging about his fighting ability, and Booth taunts at him. Lee takes that as a slight and eventually challenges Booth to a friendly fight.
An on the spot best-of-three competition kicks off, seeing who can put the other person on the ground. Lee bests Booth in round one, Booth flings Lee into the side of a car in round two, and round three is broken up before a winner can be determined, and Booth is instantly kicked off the set.
While talking to The Wraps about her father’s portrayal in the film, Shannon Lee says, “He comes across as an arrogant asshole who was full of hot air”.
“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.
“It was really uncomfortable to sit in the theatre and listen to people laugh at my father.”
Shannon further stressed that it was disheartening to see her dad portrayed as arrogant, especially as he had to work much harder to succeed in Hollywood than the fictional white protagonists of Booth and Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio).
“I can understand all the reasoning behind what is portrayed in the movie,” Shannon continued.
“I understand that the two characters are antiheroes and this is sort of like a raging fantasy of what would happen… and they’re portraying a period of time that clearly had a lot of racism and exclusion.
I understand 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”, she further added.
She continued saying, “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.
“Here, he’s the one with all the puffery and he’s the one challenging Brad Pitt. Which is not how he was”, Shannon Lee concluded.