The controversy surrounding Bruce Lee’s depiction in Quentin Tarantino’s 2019 film ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ has resurfaced again.

Bruce Lee is one of the most famous martial artists of all time, renowned for popularising martial arts movies in the 1970s.

The Chinese-American actor died in 1973 from a brain edema at the age of 32, but his short movie career has gone down in history.

In 2019, a controversy surrounding Bruce Lee arose after his daughter and wife disapproved of his portrayal in the movie Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

Now, the drama has resurfaced after Quentin Tarantino addressed the controversy on Joe Rogan’s podcast this week.

Photo by Warner Brothers/Getty Images

Bruce Lee’s ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ controversy explained

The controversy revolves around a depiction of Bruce Lee in the film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

Quentin Tarantino’s 2019 movie is set in 1969 Los Angeles and follows the story of a fading actor and his stunt double as they navigate the changing film industry.

The film won loads of awards for Brad Pitt’s role, including a Golden Globe, Academy Award and BAFTA, but it has been heavily criticised for its portrayal of Bruce Lee.

In the flashback scene, the main character played by Brad Pitt and a depiction of Bruce Lee are seen fighting whilst they trash talk each other.

Watch the full scene below.

Bruce Lee’s daughter and wife criticised the portrayal

After the film’s release, Bruce Lee’s real-life daughter Shannon Lee publicly expressed her disapproval of the scene.

In an interview with The Wrap, she said that Bruce Lee came across as: “An arrogant asshole 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.”

She also said that it was “really uncomfortable” sitting in the theatre and listening to people laugh at her 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,” she added.

Bruce Lee’s wife Linda Lee Cadwell also called the depiction “a caricature of himself” and said it was deliberately added to make him look “stupid”, “silly” and “insultingly Chinesey”.

Tarantino addresses the criticism

Whilst on Joe Rogan’s podcast this week, Quentin Tarantino addressed the controversy regarding his depiction of Bruce Lee in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

Speaking on The Jogan Rogan Experience, he said:

“Where I’m coming from is…I can understand his daughter having a problem with it, it’s her f***ing father! I get that. But anybody else? Go suck a d**k. And the thing about it, though, is even if you just look at it, it’s obvious Cliff tricked him. That’s how he was able to do it, he tricked him.”

He then revealed that his writing was somewhat inspired by stuntman Gene LeBell’s fight with Bruce Lee on the set of Hornet and went on to explain his reasoning behind the scene even further. 

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