Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time In Hollywood is being heralded as one of the best films of his career. The movie doesn’t sit well with everyone, though. Shannon Lee, the daughter of martial arts legend Bruce Lee, isn’t happy at all with the way her father was portrayed onscreen. While Mike Moh may be a dead ringer for the late icon, the way his character was written is drawing the ire of his next of kin.
A memorable scene in the flick pits Lee against Brad Pitt’s stuntman character Cliff Booth. While the Green Hornet star is bragging to spectators about how he feels he can defeat Muhammad Ali in a fight, Booth wholeheartedly disagrees. Verbal jabs are exchanged before the two decide to duke it out in a best-of-three brawl. The fighters win one round each before the scrum is broken up.
All in all, it’s a very entertaining scene. Shannon Lee, however, did not feel this way. In her own words:
“I can understand all the reasoning behind what is portrayed in the movie. I understand that the two characters are antiheroes and this is sort of like a rage fantasy of what would happen… and they’re portraying a period of time that clearly had a lot of racism and exclusion. I understand they want to make the Brad Pitt character this super bad-ass who could beat up Bruce Lee. But they didn’t need to treat him in the way that white Hollywood did when he was alive.”
She says that her father had to work “triple hard” to succeed in the entertainment business due to his race, which made her feel “really uncomfortable” hearing people laugh at his onscreen portrayal in the theater. Lee’s daughter also wasn’t a fan of how her dad was painted as an instigator by Tarantino: “Here, he’s the one with all the puffery and he’s the one challenging Brad Pitt. Which is not how he was.”
Shannon did say that Mike Moh did an exceptional job, but couldn’t help but think that the role was written as a “caricature” of the man who raised her. Tarantino, the writer and director of the film, has yet to respond to any of these comments, but Once Upon a Time In Hollywood is currently playing in theaters worldwide for those who want to judge the performance for themselves.