He is an outspoken and accomplished director who has been called out for his questionable caricature of a fallen Hollywood icon.
And now Bruce Lee’s daughter Shannon Lee is responding directly to Quentin Tarantino, after the Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood auteur again defended his portrayal of her martial arts master father in his Oscar-winning 2019 film.
In an open letter published by The Hollywood Reporter on Friday, Shannon, 52, made her feelings quite clear, writing that she is ‘really f**king tired of white men in Hollywood trying to tell me who Bruce Lee was.’
Speaking out: Bruce Lee’s daughter Shannon Lee is responding directly to Quentin Tarantino, after the auteur again defended his portrayal of her martial arts master father in Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood; Shannon seen here in 2019
‘Why does Quentin Tarantino speak like he knew Bruce Lee and hated him? It seems weird given he never met Bruce Lee, right?’ Shannon began the column, going on to note Tarantino’s many stylistic touches over the years that are owed to the kung-fu genre and action film tropes in general that were established by her legendary father.
‘As you already know, the portrayal of Bruce Lee in Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood by Mr. Tarantino, in my opinion, was inaccurate and unnecessary to say the least,’ she later wrote, going on to add: ‘I’m really f**king tired of white men in Hollywood trying to tell me who Bruce Lee was.
‘I’m tired of hearing from white men in Hollywood that he was arrogant and an a**hole when they have no idea and cannot fathom what it might have taken to get work in 1960s and ’70s Hollywood as a Chinese man with (God forbid) an accent, or to try to express an opinion on a set as a perceived foreigner and person of color,’ she continued.
‘Why does Quentin Tarantino speak like he knew Bruce Lee and hated him? It seems weird given he never met Bruce Lee, right?’ Shannon began the column; she was responding to points Tarantino brought up earlier in the week with Joe Rogan on his podcast
‘I’m tired of white men in Hollywood mistaking his confidence, passion and skill for hubris and therefore finding it necessary to marginalize him and his contributions. I’m tired of white men in Hollywood finding it too challenging to believe that Bruce Lee might have really been good at what he did and maybe even knew how to do it better than them.’
Lee added later on: ‘I’m tired of white men in Hollywood barely footnoting the impact he had on the action film genre and fight choreography, or the proliferation of and interest in martial arts he sparked globally, or the number of people and communities he continues to inspire and touch with his performances, philosophies, teachings and practices while casually downplaying how his accomplishments have lifted spirits and become a source of pride for Asian Americans, communities of color and people around the world, and how he accomplished all of this by the age of 32.
‘And while we’re at it, I’m tired of being told that he wasn’t American (he was born in San Francisco),’ she continued.
‘I’m really f**king tired of white men in Hollywood trying to tell me who Bruce Lee was’: Shannon Lee squares off against Quentin Tarantino over his defense of how he portrayed her father Bruce Lee in 2019’s Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood
The kerfuffle began, of course, as the result of a brief scene in the revisionist historical drama that saw principal character Cliff Booth (played by Brad Pitt in the role that won him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar) squaring off with and easily beating Lee, as portrayed by actor Mike Moh.
And although the issue first came up well over two years ago when the film premiered, it has once again come to the forefront now that Tarantino, 58, is making the rounds to promote his new novelization of OUATIH.
‘Look, I understand what Mr. Tarantino was trying to do. I really do,’ Shannon said of the scene in her column. ‘Cliff Booth is such a bada** and a killer that he can beat the crap out of Bruce Lee. Character development. I get it.
‘I just think he could have done it so much better,’ she went on. ‘But instead, the scene he created was just an uninteresting tear-down of Bruce Lee when it didn’t need to be. It was white Hollywood treating Bruce Lee as, well, white Hollywood treated him — as a dispensable stereotype.’
Fight: The kerfuffle began as the result of a brief scene in the movie that saw principal character Cliff (Brad Pitt) squaring off with and easily beating Lee, as portrayed by Mike Moh
Toward the end of her pointed letter, the only living child of Bruce Lee contextualized the issue for today’s times.
‘In closing, at a time when Asian Americans are being physically attacked, told to “go home” because they are seen as not American, and demonized for something that has nothing to do with them, I feel moved to suggest that Mr. Tarantino’s continued attacks, mischaracterizations and misrepresentations of a trailblazing and innovative member of our Asian American community, right now, are not welcome.
‘Mr. Tarantino, you don’t have to like Bruce Lee,’ Shannon wrote. ‘I really don’t care if you like him or not. You made your movie and now, clearly, you’re promoting a book. But in the interest of respecting other cultures and experiences you may not understand, I would encourage you to take a pass on commenting further about Bruce Lee and reconsider the impact of your words in a world that doesn’t need more conflict and fewer cultural heroes.’
‘As you already know, the portrayal of Bruce Lee in Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood by Mr. Tarantino, in my opinion, was inaccurate and unnecessary to say the least,’ Lee wrote Friday; seen here in 2019
Lee’s missive was prompted by QT’s recent visit to Joe Rogan’s podcast earlier this week, where he again addressed the controversy and even mentioned Shannon by name.
The filmmaker was promoting his first work of fiction, a novelization of Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood that debuted earlier this week, in an interview on The Joe Rogan Experience.
While the film was beloved by fans and critics alike, many took exception to Quentin’s portrayal of Bruce with the director acknowledging that he understood why Shannon was upset.
Going off: Lee’s missive was prompted by QT’s recent visit to Joe Rogan’s podcast earlier this week, where he again addressed the controversy and even mentioned Shannon by name
The scene in question took place on the set of Lee’s TV show The Green Hornet, where Brad Pitt’s character, a fictional stuntman named Cliff Booth, beats up the martial arts expert on the set.
Those who blasted the scene called Moh’s portrayal a racist caricature of the beloved martial artist, while Shannon blasted Tarantino for making her father out to be an ‘arrogant a**hole who was full of hot air.’
Tarantino pushed back on her comments, saying Lee was ‘kind of an arrogant guy. The way he was talking, I didn’t just make a lot of that up.’
Seen in 2014: ‘I’m tired of white men in Hollywood barely footnoting the impact he had on the action film genre and fight choreography,’ Shannon shared on Friday
Still, when Rogan commented that many thought Tarantino ‘turned Bruce Lee into an a**hole,’ the director said he was ‘hesitant’ to talk about it because he didn’t want his comments to be ‘the only thing’ people were talking about regarding the interview.
‘Where I’m coming from is… I can understand his daughter having a problem with it. It’s her f***ing father, all right, I get that. But anybody else, go suck a d**k,’ Tarantino said flippantly, as Rogan started laughing.
Despite the criticism, Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood was Tarantino’s highest-grossing film to date, earning $374.5 million worldwide.
It also earned two Oscars, one for Pitt’s supporting performance as Booth, and another for production design.
Despite the criticism: Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood was Tarantino’s highest-grossing film to date, earning $374.5 million worldwide