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Once Upon a Time...In Hollywood takes some significant liberties with the way history actually transpired, but it seems that the thing people have the biggest issue with isn't how the movie deals with Sharon Tate and Charles Manson, but rather how it handles Bruce Lee. First the actor's daughter called out Quentin Tarantino for the portrayal, and now Lee's friend former NBA Star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, has done the same.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar starred alongside Bruce Lee in the actor's last film, Game of Death, but he was a longtime personal friend of Bruce Lee as well. In a new column for THR, Abdul-Jabbar says that, while he loves Quentin Tarantino as a filmmaker, he thinks the director's decision's regarding Lee's portrayal in the new movie are sloppy and a bit racist. He writes...
In Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Bruce Lee is played by Mike Moh and only has one significant scene. In the flashback sequence, we see Bruce, on the set of his show The Green Hornet, speaking in front of an assembled group of crewmen. He is boasting about his fighting abilities and how he would easily be able to defeat Cassius Clay if the two met.
A stuntman, named Cliff Booth, played by Brad Pitt, takes issue with Lee's bragging and Lee challenges him to a little light sparring. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar specifically calls out this idea in his piece as well, claiming that he witnessed similar events happen with Bruce Lee in real life, and the actor never wanted to fight.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's comments come following something of a war of words between Bruce Lee's daughter Sharon and director Quentin Tarantino. She was the first to publicly criticize the portrayal of Bruce Lee in the movie. Tarantino, for his part, claimed that his version of Lee wasn't as far from the real thing as Sharon Lee was claiming, and that the scenario in the movie was ultimately fictional.
Once Upon a Time...In Hollywood chooses to portray what Bruce Lee's friends and family are calling a stereotyped version of the actor rather than the real man. In the end, the movie isn't trying to be historically accurate, but that isn't necessarily a good reason to do it.
You can judge for yourself, Once Upon a Time...In Hollywood is in theaters now.