Bruce Lee’s Daughter Thinks Quentin Tarantino Should ‘Shut Up’ About That Controversial Portrayal

Mike Moh as Bruce Lee in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

The following contains spoilers for Once Upon a Time...In Hollywood.

Quentin Tarantino's new movie takes some liberties with the historical record. The finale in Once Upon a Time...In Hollywood has been met with a variety of different reactions, some impressed, some not so much. The daughter of Bruce Lee has taken issue with the way that her father was portrayed in the film. While the director has responded to Shannon Lee's concerns, it seems that his defense hasn't accomplished much in her eyes. She thinks he needs to shut up.

Shannon Lee was critical of the new film because, in part, it portrayed Bruce Lee as a man with an ego, showboating in front of others, something she says was not something her father would do. Tarantino responded by stating that, based on things he had read, that his portrayal was based in evidence, but Shannon Lee tells Variety that ultimately, Tarantino still didn't know Bruce Lee, and should not act like he did, saying...

He could shut up about it. That would be really nice. Or he could apologize or he could say, ‘I don’t really know what Bruce Lee was like. I just wrote it for my movie. But that shouldn’t be taken as how he really was.'

In Once Upon A Time...In Hollywood, Bruce Lee is seen holding court on the set of The Green Hornet television show claiming that he could easily defeat Cassius Clay, the professional boxer who would soon be known as Muhammad Ali. Quentin Tarantino says that he specifically read such a claim in a biography written by Linda Lee, Bruce's wife.

Part of the conflict seems to come from the fact that, while Once Upon a Time...In Hollywood is a movie based on historical events, it is ultimately a work of fiction. Events don't come to pass in the movie as they did in reality. As such, there's an argument to be made that the movie is fictional, and thus any character based on a real person should not be seen as entirely accurate.

Of course, with Tarantino defending his portrayal as written as accurate in some respects, it certainly implies that the character is to be taken as something close to reality. That becomes an issue when you consider that the movie includes a scene where Bruce Lee, unquestionably one of the most skilled fighters to ever live, gets thrown into a car by a stuntman.

In the end, Shannon Lee admits that in Quentin Tarantino's movie, he can do whatever he wants, but she feels that the writer/director is trying to have things both ways by claiming that some aspects of the Bruce Lee character are accurate, while others are meant to be fictional.

[Tarantino] can portray Bruce Lee however he wanted to, and he did. But it’s a little disingenuous for him to say, ‘Well, this is how he was, but this is a fictional movie, so don’t worry too much about it.’

Tarantino's response to criticism of having Brad Pitt's character take a fall against Bruce Lee was that the character portrayed by Pitt was fictional, and therefore, the idea that he could win the fight makes as much sense as anything.

In the end, this likely isn't a debate that is going to be settled. These two people have very different views on the subject. More than likely, at some point, somebody will simply shut up about the topic, and it will go away.

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.