Quentin Tarantino Has Thoughts On This Whole Bruce Lee Situation

Getty Images  Pascal Le Segretain

Getty Images Pascal Le Segretain

While the movie is only set to open in Ireland and the United Kingdom this week, there's been a lot of discussion in the U.S. concerning the portrayal of Bruce Lee in 'Once Upon A Time.

"Once Upon A Time In Hollywood" features a scene where Brad Pitt's character Cliff Booth beats Lee in a one-on-one fight.

In the film Lee is seen on the set of The Green Hornet arrogantly boasting about how he could easily defeat boxing legend Muhammad Ali. There's no actual victor of the fight, although many found it distasteful that Tarantino could diminish Bruce Lee's fighting skills by having him thrown into a auto by Cliff.

Who would have thought that in a film which ostensibly involved the Manson murders, one of the biggest talking points weeks later would center on Bruce Lee?

Quentin Tarantino is standing by his fictionalized depiction of Bruce Lee. "People say, 'he never said he could beat up Muhammad Ali.' Yes, he did. The first biography I ever read was Linda Lee's Bruce Lee: The Man Only I Knew, and she absolutely said it".

While Brad Pitt's character was fictional, the idea that he could hold his own against Bruce Lee was intentional. If you ask me the question, 'Well who would win in a fight, Bruce Lee or Dracula?' It's the same question.

"Given how sympathetic Tarantino's portrayal of Steve McQueen, Jay Sebring, and Sharon Tate is, I'm surprised he didn't afford the same courtesy to Lee, the only non-white character in the film", she said.

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Quentin Tarantino added that if Bruce Lee and Cliff Booth were fighting in a martial arts tournament at Madison Square Garden, then the former would have wiped the floor with the latter.

Tarantino punched back, saying: "Could Cliff beat up Bruce Lee?". I understand they want to make the Brad Pitt character this super bada** who could beat up Bruce Lee. And for those who want to judge the scene for themselves, Once Upon a Time In Hollywood is now playing in theaters nationwide. Quentin said the comparisons were silly because Cliff was a fictional character.

Tarantino also talked about Booth's experience as a Green Beret killing people in hand-to-hand combat in World War II, using that to further justify Booth's superiority over Lee in combat.

And as he said at the Moscow press conference for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (via Indiewire), he stands by the direction he went with Lee's dialogue because he supposedly read and heard about similar comments the man had made. On the other hand, these remarks might be exactly what many others think about the situation.

Matthew Polly, author of Bruce Lee: A Life, insisted Tarantino is misquoting Caldwell. Cliff is not even part of a sport that is like combat, he is a warrior.

However, it's never good when one of those people is the daughter of someone being portrayed onscreen. "He is a combat person", Tarantino said. "But if Cliff and Bruce were fighting in the jungles of the Philippines in a hand-to-hand combat fight, Cliff would kill him", Tarantino concluded.

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