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Quentin Tarantino’s Depiction of Bruce Lee as “Arrogant A-Hole” Enrages Chinese Social Media

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Today in online Chinese outrage: Bruce Lee…?

Well, kinda. It’s Hollywood’s depiction of Bruce Lee that’s gotten users on microblogging site Weibo bashing their fists of fury into their keyboards. Specifically, Quentin Tarantino’s depiction of the martial arts god in the much-buzzed movie Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood.

Things kicked off when, in an interview with The Wrap, Lee’s daughter Shannon described the portrayal of her father (by Mike Moh) in the film as “an arrogant a–hole who was full of hot air.”

“I understand they want to make the Brad Pitt character this super bad-ass who could beat up Bruce Lee. But they didn’t need to treat him in the way that white Hollywood did when he was alive.”

The Wrap notes that, “Shannon Lee said it’s disheartening to see her father portrayed as an arrogant blowhard, because in truth, as an Asian-American in 1960s Hollywood, he had to work much harder to succeed than Booth and Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio), the fictional, white protagonists of the film.”

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Naturally, it wasn’t long before the comments got picked up on Chinese social media. A report on her review of the movie posted via Sina Weibo’s official film account received tens of thousands of likes, with one of the most upvoted comments praising her “objectivity” and “restrained wording”.

Other accounts posted classic clips of the kung fu legend. A popular comment under one of them demonstrated just how revered Lee remains:

“Bruce Lee’s success is unparalleled. He broke the stereotype of Chinese people in western countries through his own efforts. Nowadays, people take it for granted, but they should kneel down again.”

Not that the legend of Lee is being preserved particularly well closer to home. The uproar comes as his Hong Kong home looks set to be torn down.

Jake Newby
Jake Newby is a Shanghai-based writer and editor with more than a decade's experience living and working in China. Previously managing editor of Time Out Shanghai, he's also written for publications such as South China Morning Post and the Financial Times.