Quentin Tarantino is back with his traditional bevy of controversial statements. This time around, the director appeared on the Joe Rogan Experience, tearing into critics of his work with some incredibly vulgar comments, as nearly two years after his most recent film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood debuted in theaters, Tarantino opened up about the movie’s controversial depiction of Bruce Lee.
Back when the film was first released, Bruce’s daughter, Shannon Lee, denounced Tarantino for his “irresponsible” portrayal of the martial arts icon, saying that the film endorsed negative views of her father. Mike Moh stars as Bruce Lee in the scene, and is reportedly China refused to release the film in theaters unless the clip was removed. Tarantino refused, adding that Lee was “an arrogant guy” in real life.
The discussion reared its head once more on Rogan’s podcast this week, when Tarantino visited to promote his new Once Upon a Time in Hollywood novelization. The filmmaker stated that while he may sympathize with Shannon Lee’s qualms, he still despises anyone else who has a problem with the sequence.
“Where I am coming from is I can understand his daughter having a problem with it. It’s her fucking father. I get that,” Tarantino said, per IndieWire. “But anybody else, oh suck a dick!”
Delving deeper into the discussion, Tarantino picked the scene apart, explaining why Lee wouldn’t win against his fictional Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt).
“Cliff’s method is to give the guy the first fall,” the director continued. “He gives Bruce no resistance whatsoever and Bruce knocks Cliff on his ass. There’s four different ways Bruce could’ve come at him the second time and Cliff would’ve had little defense, but most of the time if a guy has a particular move and it looks like the other dude is a big mouth who can’t defend himself, they do the first move again a second time. But now Cliff knows what it is! He prepares for it and throws [Bruce’s] ass into the car. He just tricked him. Bruce realizes he got tricked.”
Tarantino and Rogan’s discussion also touched on Lee’s relationship with Gene LaBelle, who Tarantino said was brought in to teach Lee how to have “respect for American stuntmen.”
“Bruce had no respect for American stuntmen, he was always hitting them with his feet,” Tarantino continued. “It’s called tagging when you hit a stuntman for real. He was always tagging them with his feet and his fist and it got to the point where they would refuse to work with Bruce. He had nothing but disrespect for American stuntmen. It was probably just like, ‘Oh they’re just not good enough. They are pussies. I want to make it look real!’ But stuntmen don’t like that. That’s unprofessional.”
In his new novel, Tarantino even compares Lee to the infamous cult leader Charles Manson. The director argued that Lee viewed Hollywood stars like Steve McQueen in the same way that Manson viewed the musicians he thought may assist him in breaking into Hollywood.
“Like Charles Manson, this spiritual sifu stuff was just a side gig,” Tarantino writes in his novel. “The way Charles Manson wanted to be a rock star, Bruce Lee wanted to be a movie star. James Coburn and Sterling Silliphant were his Dennis Wilson. Steve McQueen and Roman Polanski were his Terry Melcher.”
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