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Once Upon a Time in Hollywood: Lee's Daughter Rebukes Tarantino's Defense

Bruce Lee Enter the Dragon

The controversy over Bruce Lee's depiction in Quentin Tarantino's latest film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood has continued to escalate, with the martial arts actor's daughter, Shannon Lee, responding to recent comments from Tarantino.

Portrayed by Mike Moh, the film has Bruce Lee arrogantly boast about being able to defeat Muhammad Ali before struggling in a fight against Brad Pitt's character Cliff Booth. In response to criticism from Shannon Lee and Bruce Lee's protege Dan Inosanto, Tarantino defended the depiction, stating that Bruce Lee was an arrogant man in real life. In turn, Shannon Lee had harsh words for the filmmaker regarding his recent statements.

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"He could shut up about it. That would be really nice. Or he could apologize or he could say, ‘I don’t really know what Bruce Lee was like. I just wrote it for my movie. But that shouldn’t be taken as how he really was,'” Lee declared in an interview with Variety. "One of the things that’s troubling in his response is that, on the one hand, he wants to put this forward as fact and, on the other hand, he wants to stay in fiction."

In his defense, Tarantino cited a biography of Bruce Lee written by his wife, Linda Lee Caldwell, about her late husband, claiming he could beat Ali. The referenced passage, however, reveals that the claims were a secondhand account from a film critic who observed how audiences bet on who would win in a fight between Lee and Ali, rather than a direct quote from the author herself.

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"[Tarantino] can portray Bruce Lee however he wanted to, and he did," Lee continued. "But it’s a little disingenuous for him to say, ‘Well this is how he was, but this is a fictional movie, so don’t worry too much about it.’"

Written, directed and produced by Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood stars Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Margot Robbie, Burt Reynolds, Al Pacino, Tim Roth, Zoe Bell, Michael Madsen, Timothy Olyphant, Damian Lewis, Luke Perry, Emile Hirsch and Dakota Fanning.

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