Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time In Hollywood is a story with a blend of fictionalized characters and actual people that were running around Hollywood at the time that the movie was based in the 60s. One of the real people that was featured in the film was a martial artist and actor Bruce Lee.
There was a glorious scene in the movie that dealt with a meeting between Lee and Brad Pitt’s character Cliff Booth, who is the stunt double for Leonardo DiCaprio’s character Rick Dalton. The scene was shot on a studio backlot during The Green Hornet production and the two get in a light sparring session. It’s really a big scene, but Bruce Lee’s daughter Sharon was not satisfied with the way her father was described. She explains that the movie portrays her father with an approach that was quite unlike the person he actually was. She told The Wrap:
“He comes across as an arrogant asshole who was full of hot air, and not someone who had to fight triple as hard as any of those people did to accomplish what was naturally given to so many others.”
I respect what she’s saying, at the same time, this is a fictionalized version of events that never happened. There’s no way in hell that Brad Pitt could even come close to keeping up in a fight with Bruce Lee! Bruce Lee would wipe the floor with him, but thanks to the power of imagination… anything is possible! The scene was never meant to be an accurate portrayal of how something would actually go down in real life with Lee. It’s unrealistic on purpose. Sharon Lee went on to say she understands this, but still isn’t happy with it:
“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.”
I now wonder what Tarantino’s response will be on this matter.