Quentin Tarantino took a huge risk by putting Bruce Lee in his new film. On one hand because the legendary master still has a huge number of fans, even 50 years after his mysterious death, but also because he decided to depict him as an arrogant man.
People have been talking about the scene depicting his fight against Cliff Booth, the character played by Brad Pitt. In the scene, we can see the Little Dragon, played by Mike Mikoh, who is clearly too sure of his superiority and a big mouth who ends up getting taken down a peg or two by the fictional stuntman. And this was heresy for fans of the legend!
Criticism from the family
Criticism didn’t just come from Bruce Lee’s admirers. His daughter Shannon didn’t like that her father was portrayed as an ‘arrogant a-hole who was full of hot air.’ She told The Wrap that this scene was a ‘caricature’ of her father. Shannon said it was disheartening to see her father in this way because he had to work much harder to succeed than Booth and Rick Dalton.
Dan Inosanto, Lee’s former training partner, also responded to the scene in which the Little Dragon mocks the boxing legend Muhammad Ali.
‘Bruce Lee would have never said anything derogatory about Muhammad Ali,’ said Insonato to Variety. When questioned for the umpteenth time on the subject at a screening for ‘Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood’ in Russia, Quentin Tarantino decided to give his version of the story.
A fictional opinion close to reality?
‘Bruce Lee was kind of an arrogant guy. The way he was talking, I didn’t just make a lot of that up. I heard him say things like that, to that effect. If people are saying, ‘Well he never said he could beat up Muhammad Ali,’ well yeah, he did. Not only did he say that, but his wife, Linda Lee, said that in her first biography I ever read. She absolutely said that.’
And as for Cliff Booth’s victory against the founder of Jeet Kune Do, Tarantino justified himself by explaining that it is fiction, but it actually makes sense when you know what Bruce Lee was like.
‘Could Cliff beat up Bruce Lee? Brad would not be able to beat up Bruce Lee, but Cliff maybe could. If you ask me the question, ‘Who would win in a fight: Bruce Lee or Dracula?’ It’s the same question. It’s a fictional character. If I say Cliff can beat Bruce Lee up, he’s a fictional character so he could beat Bruce Lee up.’
‘The reality of the situation is this: Cliff is a Green Beret. He has killed many men in WWII in hand-to-hand combat. What Bruce Lee is talking about in the whole thing is that he admires warriors. He admires combat, and boxing is a closer approximation of combat as a sport. Cliff is not part of the sport that is like combat, he is a warrior. He is a combat person. If Cliff were fighting Bruce Lee in a martial arts tournament in Madison Square Garden, Bruce would kill him. But if Cliff and Bruce were fighting in the jungles of the Philippines in a hand-to-hand combat fight, Cliff would kill him.’