Quentin Tarantino defends Bruce Lee portrayal in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

14 August 2019, 02:00 | Updated: 14 August 2019, 02:01

The director has hit back against criticisms he's painted the martial arts movie icon in a bad light, and said he witnessed Lee say some of the things he says in the film himself.

Quentin Tarantino has defended his portrayal of Bruce Lee in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood after being slammed by those closest to the late icon.

Tarantino came under fire after Lee's daughter Shannon said she was "uncomfortable" with how her late father had been portrayed in the movie.

"He comes across as an arrogant asshole who was full of hot air," she told The Wrap. "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."

However, Tarantino has hit back, claiming Lee, played by Mike Moh, who is shown in the movie calling his hands "lethal weapons," was arrogant in real life and did claim he could beat Muhammad Ali in a fight.

Quentin Tarantino at the Berlin premiere of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Quentin Tarantino at the Berlin premiere of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Picture: Gisela Schober/Getty Images

Speaking at a recent press junket in Moscow, he said: "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."

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Lee's training partner Dan Inosanto previously spoke about how upset he was with Lee's portrayal in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, claiming that it did not show the real Bruce Lee.

The late Bruce Lee in 1972
The late Bruce Lee in 1972. Picture: Getty Images

Inosanto told Variety: "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. Bruce Lee would have never said anything derogatory about Muhammad Ali because he worshiped the ground Muhammad Ali walked on."

Shannon said: "He was continuously 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."

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