Thanks to the recently published novelization of ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD, Quentin Tarantino’s tribute to the final moments of Hollywood’s golden age has people talking once again. The writer/director recently chatted with Joe Rogen for the Joe Rogen Experience podcast, and he addressed a few of his career controversies, including Once Upon a Time in Hollywood‘s portrayal of Bruce Lee.
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Once Upon a Time in Hollywood was a huge success upon its release in 2019, but that doesn’t mean that it didn’t have its critics, including some who thought that Quentin Tarantino had turned Bruce Lee into an asshole. The scene in the film found Lee (Mike Moh) swaggering around on the set of Green Hornet where he criticized Muhammad Ali and picked a fight with Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt). While speaking with Rogen, Tarantino had some harsh words for those critics.
I can understand his daughter having a problem with it, it’s her fucking father, I get that. But anybody else [can] go suck a dick. If you look at it, it’s obvious Cliff tricked him, that’s how he was able to [beat him,] it’s explained a bit more in the book.
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Quentin Tarantino went on to explain that Cliff allowed Lee to win the first round of their contest to learn which move he would use so he could successfully counter it the second time around. Tarantino also referenced Matthew Polly’s Bruce Lee book: “Stuntmen hated Bruce on The Green Hornet, it’s in Matthew Polly’s book,” Tarantino said. “Bruce had nothing but disrespect for American stuntmen and was always hitting them. He was always tagging them with his feet and his fists and it got to the point where they refused to work with him.” Responding to Tarantino’s interview on Twitter, Matthew Polly denied that his book said Bruce Lee didn’t have respect for American stuntmen. Instead, Polly said that Lee “wanted to change American fight choreography so that the blows would miss by millimeters rather than by feet (aka the John Wayne punch) in order to better sell the technique.” In the process, some stuntmen did get knocked around a bit, which did piss them off, but “it wasn’t an issue of disrespect but a difference in fight choreography philosophy and style.“