Screening of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Might be Delayed in China
The issue with Bruce Lee’s portrayal in the movie has been going for awhile
The depiction of Bruce Lee in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood elicited controversy delaying the original October 25 film showing in China.
In Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Lee played by Mike Moh is shown fighting with Brad Pitt’s Cliff Booth in a three-round match. The match was good for two rounds, Lee in the first and he found his bottom at the car from a throw from Cliff at the second.
His daughter, Shannon Lee, asked the National Film Administration of China to demand a change in her father’s portrayals. The friends and family of the action star also reportedly criticized how he was portrayed in the film, claiming it is not authentic. Lee’s friend Kareem Abdul Jabbar and biographer Matthew Polly have complained that the late martial artist’s depiction in OUATIH is both inaccurate and degrading. Kareem Abdul Jabbar also added that the portrayal of his was depicted as “somewhat racist”.
According to cinema scholar Nancy Wang Yuen, “There’s nothing else to call him but the butt of the joke, because everything that makes him powerful is the very thing that makes him laughable in the film,” and also added that “His kung fu becomes a joke, and his philosophizing becomes a fortune cookie, and the sounds that he makes as he does kung fu are literally made fun of by Cliff. They made his arrogance look like he was a fraud.”
But Quentin Tarantino refuses to edit the film, particularly as China has failed to explain why it was pulled out from screening.
The director defended his portrayal saying, “Bruce Lee was kind of an arrogant guy.” He also stated, “Could Cliff beat up Bruce Lee? Brad would not be able to beat up Bruce Lee, but Cliff maybe could… The reality of the situation is this: Cliff is a Green Beret. He has killed many men in WWII in hand-to-hand combat.”
Then again, we all know how violent karate movies are, broken body parts, blood oozing when a karate blow hit the stomach sometimes with intestines clasped by the hand, and gruesome death among others.
Shannon Lee might have a point when she said that Bruce Lee was a national hero in China. That’s a valid argument, the Chinese wouldn’t want their hero ridiculed and that goes for anybody.
Watch Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and check the scenes that were pointed out.