Shanon Lee is not happy about Quentin Tarantino flushing Bruce Lee’s legacy “down the drain” in his film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
Martial artist Bruce Lee is one of the most iconic faces in Hollywood back in the 1960s. He brought Asian representation to the silver screen and became a cultural icon. You’d think his portrayal would be given the respect that he deserves, but in Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, his daughter believes the director made a mockery of the late movie star.
“I can understand all the reasoning behind what is portrayed in the movie,” she said, speaking to The Wire when asked about her thoughts on the film. “I understand that the two characters are antiheroes and this is sort of like a rage fantasy of what would happen… and they’re portraying a period of time that clearly had a lot of racism and exclusion.”
Shannon adds, “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.”
While Shannon believes Tarantino might have tried to point out how her father was stereotyped back in the day, she says “it doesn’t come across that way.”
Instead, Shannon says, “He comes 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.”
As for how she felt while watching the film last Sunday, she says “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,” she added. “All of that was flushed down the toilet in this portrayal, and made my father into this arrogant punching bag.”
Shannon shares that while her father was often challenged to fights, he was not one to give it a go. “Here, [in the move] he’s the one with all the puffery and he’s the one challenging Brad Pitt. Which is not how he was,” she said.