Netizens Hit Back at Bruce Lee Representation in New Tarantino Film

By Austin Coley, August 1, 2019

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Quentin Tarantino’s depiction of kung fu legend Bruce Lee in his new film, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, has drawn the ire of Chinese netizens. Users of microblogging site Weibo have taken to the internet to express their discontent with what is perceived as a negative depiction of the cinema legend.

One user stated, “Bruce Lee is portrayed as an arrogant bully easily beaten up by a white stuntman. I would NOT recommend this movie to any Chinese friends of mine.” Another posted, “The true Bruce Lee’s image will not be overshadowed by a movie.”

Another user, a Chinese lawyer in America, set up a petition seeking an apology for Lee’s inaccurate representation. He stated that the film’s portrayal “left me and millions of other Chinese people in the United States and abroad in dismay,” and demands that Tarantino apologize for it.

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Image via Sony Pictures Entertainment/IMDb

Lee’s daughter, Shannon Lee, also stated she was “disheartened” that Tarantino would depict him as an “arrogant asshole who was full of hot air.” Lee argued that rather than being arrogant, her father would have had to work much harder as an Asian-American than the white stuntman Cliff Booth (played by Brad Pitt) who fights him. 

Dan Inosanto, one of only three martial artists trained by Lee to teach at his martial art institutes, also commented on the actor’s humility. Inosanto stated that although Lee was sure of himself as a martial artist, he was never cocky or a show-off. 

Watch below to see the trailer for Tarantino’s ninth film (VPN off)

China Bona Film Group boarded Once Upon A Time in Hollywood as an investor in January of this year, with the group presumably seeking to show the film throughout Chinese cinemas. The movie has already been released on Hong Kong silver screens, though it is unclear whether this backlash from Chinese fans will affect showings of the movie on the Chinese mainland.

This is not Tarantino’s first film to have trouble in China. His 2013 flick, Django Unchained, was only released in 10% of theaters in the country and was not received very well. In fact, the film only grossed RMB18.2 million in China, well behind other movies, such as Iron Man 3 and Oblivion, which were also showing at the time. 

READ MORE: These Cannes 2019 Films Are in Line for a Chinese Cinema Release

[Cover image via Sony Pictures Entertainment/IMDb]

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