Bruce Lee’s Widow, Daughter Blast Campy Portrayal Of Martial Arts Legend In ‘Once Upon A Time In Hollywood’

The legendary martial arts star was made into an embarrassing caricature in the Quentin Tarnatino film.

(L-R) Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Leonardo DiCaprio, Quentin Tarantino and Daniela Tarantino attend the UK Premiere of Once Upon A Time...In Hollywood at Odeon Luxe Leicester Square on July 30, 2019 in London, England.
Tim P. Whitby / Getty Images

The legendary martial arts star was made into an embarrassing caricature in the Quentin Tarnatino film.

Bruce Lee’s daughter is not happy about the way her late father was portrayed in the Quentin Tarantino film, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Shannon Lee, the 50-year-old daughter of the late actor and martial arts legend, revealed that she went to a screening of Tarantino’s star-studded, highly anticipated ninth film and was left “disheartened,” after seeing her dad come off as “an arrogant**hole.”

Lee criticized the film for how it inaccurately portrayed her father’s personality while minimizing his struggle as an actor of color in the 1960s era.

In an interview with The Wrap, Lee referenced a scene in Once Upon A Time in Hollywood (mild spoiler alert!) in which Brad Pitt’s stuntman character, Cliff Booth, trades macho insults then fights with Bruce Lee (played by Mike Moh) on the set of The Green Hornet, the TV show the late actor starred in six years before his death. In the scene, it is Bruce Lee who challenges Booth to the fight after boasting about his skills as a fighter and bragging that he could even defeat boxing legend Muhammad Ali.

Shannon Lee said she didn’t appreciate seeing Bruce portrayed as cocky and boastful, especially since he would have had to work much harder to succeed than Pitt and co-star Leonardo DiCaprio’s fictional, white characters in the film. While Lee noted the time period portrayed in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood was known to have”a lot of racism and exclusion,” she regrets that the film treats her father’s memory much the same way white Hollywood did when he was alive.

Lee went on to acknowledge that Tarantino may have been trying to make a point about how Bruce Lee was stereotyped, but it doesn’t come across that way.

“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… Here, he’s the one with all the puffery and he’s the one challenging Brad Pitt. Which is not how he was.”

Lee also noted that it was “really uncomfortable” to sit in the theater and listen to people laugh at her father, who in real life tried to avoid fights despite being constantly challenged.

Shannon Lee added that the campy portrayal of Bruce diminishes her efforts to keep her dad’s memory alive, which she does through her website, podcast, and the Bruce Lee Foundation. Lee believes her hard work has been “flushed down the toilet in this portrayal” as Bruce is depicted as an “arrogant punching bag” in the buzzy film.

Movie fans agreed as they took to social media to blast the portrayal of the legendary star in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

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In an interview posted by the Los Angeles Times, Bruce Lee’s widow, Linda Lee Cadwell, also slammed Tarantino’s portrayal of her late husband in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Cadwell found the depiction of Bruce to be “just awful,” the Times reports.

“I thought the character was like a caricature of himself and made him look stupid, silly and made to be insultingly ‘Chinesey.’ It strayed so far from the truth of who he was and of any actual encounter he had. … It was terrible to watch.”

Shannon Lee elaborated to the Times that the portrayal was a “mockery” of her famous father.

While she is not a fan of the movie, Bruce Lee’s daughter did acknowledge that actor Mike Moh did a good job mimicking her father’s mannerisms and voice, but noted she believes he was “directed to be a caricature,” while the portrayal of white actor Steve McQueen (Damian Lewis ) was not.