Quentin Tarantino has responded to criticisms of his "arrogant" portrayal of the late actor and martial arts icon Bruce Lee in his new film Once Upon a Time In Hollywood, claiming that it is an accurate depiction.
Bruce Lee's daughter Shannen and his protégé and training partner Dan Inosanto told Variety about their grievances with a scene in the film in which Lee (played by Mike Moh) is shown bragging about his fighting prowess on a set and denigrating boxer Muhammad Ali, only to then get into a fight with stuntman Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt).
Shannen Lee said the portrayal of her late father was "disheartening", adding: "He was continuously marginalised and treated like kind of a nuisance of a human being by white Hollywood, which is how he's treated in the film by Quentin Tarantino."
Inosanto commented: "He was never, in my opinion, cocky. Maybe he was cocky in as far as martial arts because he was very sure of himself. He was worlds ahead of everyone else. But on a set, he's not gonna show off."
Variety reports that Tarantino has now spoken about his decision to portray Bruce Lee in this manner, saying at a press junket in Moscow: "Bruce Lee was kind of an arrogant guy.
"The way he was talking, I didn't just make a lot of that up. I heard him say things like that, to that effect. If people are saying, 'Well he never said he could beat up Muhammad Ali', well yeah, he did.
"Not only did he say that, but his wife, Linda Lee, said that in her first biography I ever read. She absolutely said that."
The filmmaker also defended his decision to show Brad Pitt's Cliff Booth being able to hold his own in a fight with Lee, saying: "Could Cliff beat up Bruce Lee? Brad [Pitt] would not be able to beat up Bruce Lee, but Cliff maybe could.
"If you ask me the question, 'Who would win in a fight: Bruce Lee or Dracula?' It's the same question. It's a fictional character. If I say Cliff can beat Bruce Lee up, he's a fictional character so he could beat Bruce Lee up.
"The reality of the situation is this: Cliff is a Green Beret. He has killed many men in WWII in hand-to-hand combat. What Bruce Lee is talking about in the whole thing is that he admires warriors. He admires combat, and boxing is a closer approximation of combat as a sport. Cliff is not part of the sport that is like combat, he is a warrior. He is a combat person."
Tarantino concluded: "If Cliff were fighting Bruce Lee in a martial arts tournament in Madison Square Garden, Bruce would kill him. But if Cliff and Bruce were fighting in the jungles of the Philippines in a hand-to-hand combat fight, Cliff would kill him."
Watch RTÉ Entertainment's interview with Quentin Tarantino below:
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