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Thread: Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood

  1. #46
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    Walter Chaw's article brings up some very thoughtful points, which I agree with.

    However, towards the end of it, he seems to be rationalizing, as I've seen a number of Asian-Americans do when it comes to these things, about QT's motive(s) for portraying BL as a fool. When in fact, it's likely nothing more than QT portraying him as a fool, because (just maybe) that's how QT really viewed him.

    Sure, BL was arrogant. TBH, the majority of martial arts people I've met since the '70s have been arrogant. What made BL stand out was his outspokenness and his platform of fame. Let's be honest here; genuine humbleness is rare in the martial arts world. And back in BL's day, it was considered doubly shocking that an Asian man would dare be so openly brash and outspoken, when the image of the Asian man was subservient like Hop Sing. Which in many ways hasn't changed much to this day.

    I have heard that, as a director, QT is arrogant and egotistical, as many in the creative arts are, and his own personality, mannerisms and quirks are ripe for a spoof.

  2. #47
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    Pitt says that scene was supposed to be longer

    QT is brilliant in the way he manipulates media. I'm on several media newsfeeds (which is how I feed the forum here regularly) and QT has got more exposure for OUATIH than I've ever seen any film get. Controversy spawns headlines. It's the guiding strategy for politicians now, but QT has been working this angle for years.

    Brad Pitt Objected to Extended Bruce Lee Fight Scene in ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ Script
    The Bruce Lee fight scene has become one of the most controversial moments in Tarantino's new film, and it was originally intended to be even longer.
    Zack Sharf
    Aug 5, 2019 1:12 pm
    @zsharf


    “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”
    Sony Pictures

    When it comes to “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” one scene that is proving to be most controversial is the fight between Bruce Lee (Mike Moh) and Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt). Bruce Lee’s daughter and protégé have already spoken out against the film, condemning Quentin Tarantino for his portrayal of the martial arts and acting legend. In an interview with HuffPo, “Hollywood” stunt coordinator Robert Alonzo reveals Tarantino originally wrote a much longer version of the Bruce Lee fight scene.

    In the film, Bruce Lee challenges Cliff to a three-round fight on the set of “The Green Hornet” after Cliff insults him by laughing when he says his fists have been registered as lethal weapons. Lee quickly wins the first round by knocking Cliff to the ground, then Cliff wins round two by launching Lee into the side of a car. Just before the two men can engage in the final round, a “Green Hornet” stunt coordinator played by Zoë Bell arrives on set to yell at the two men.

    Per HuffPo, Tarantino wrote the Bruce-Cliff fight scene through round three and it ended with Bruce definitely losing to Cliff. Alonzo said the fight originally ended with Cliff making a “cheap-shot move” that puts Bruce on his butt. The scene as written rubbed both Alonzo and Pitt the wrong way, as the fight’s intention was to only show “the level at which Cliff was [operating]” and not to flat out depict Bruce as weaker.

    “I know that Brad had expressed his concerns, and we all had concerns about Bruce losing,” Alonzo said. “Especially for me, as someone who has looked up to Bruce Lee as an icon, not only in the martial-arts realm, but in the way he approached philosophy and life, to see your idol be beaten is very disheartening. It really pulled at certain emotional strings that can incite a little anger and frustration as to how he’s portrayed.”

    Alonzo admitted he had a “difficult time choreographing a fight where [Bruce Lee] lost.” The stunt coordinator said even Pitt vocalized his objection to the extended fight. “Everyone involved was like, ‘How is this going to go over?’ Brad was very much against it,” Alonzo said. “He was like, ‘It’s Bruce Lee, man!’”

    Alonzo and Pitt’s pushback led Tarantino to revise the sequence, which is when the idea came to have stunt coordinators on the “Green Hornet” set interrupt the fight before it could go into a third round. Mike Moh previously told Birth. Movies. Death. that the original fight scene “conflicted” him because Bruce Lee is a personal hero. Moh stressed that Tarantino reveres Bruce Lee and reminded viewers that the scene’s purpose is only to show Cliff’s strength and not to diminish Lee’s skill.

    “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” is now playing in theaters nationwide.
    Gene Ching
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  3. #48
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    Controversy begets buzz, especially for QT

    Why the Bruce Lee Fight in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Has Become the Movie's Most Controversial Scene
    The martial arts master's biographer weighs in on the divisive fight scene with Brad Pitt.
    BY GABRIELLE BRUNEY
    AUG 7, 2019


    SONY

    Once Upon a Time in Hollywood earned Quentin Tarantino his best opening weekend box office ever—exceeding forecasts despite being a nearly three-hour long R-rated film that opened while the Lion King remake was still holding strong. But despite also being well received by critics, the film has provoked debate. Its treatment of women has been scrutinized; female characters receive brutal beatings but little dialogue. And one single scene has also been the subject of heated controversy. Here’s a guide to the debate over the movie’s fight scene between real-life actor and martial arts legend Bruce Lee, played by Mike Moh, and Brad Pitt’s character, fictional stuntman Cliff Booth.

    What happens in the movie?

    In the film, Pitt’s character, Booth, has a flashback while repairing a TV antenna for his boss and best friend, Leonardo DiCaprio’s also-fictional western star Rick Dalton. While on Dalton’s roof, Booth remembers an encounter with Bruce Lee on the Green Hornet set. In the memory, Moh’s Lee holds court among stuntmen and crew members, giving a pompous speech and saying that if he fought Cassius Clay, as legendary fighter Muhammad Ali was still often called in the ‘60s, he’d “make him a cripple.” This elicits chuckles from Pitt’s Booth, who calls Lee “a little man with a big mouth and a big chip,” who "should be embarrassed to suggest [he’d] be anything more than a stain on the seat of Cassius Clay’s trunks.”

    Lee proposes a three-round fight to see which man can put the other “on his butt.” In the first round, Lee kicks Booth squarely in the chest, flooring him. He then attacks with a second flying kick, but Booth catches him and hurls him into a car. Before the match can be settled in the third and final round, the two men are interrupted, and Booth is fired for the fight. Flashing back to the present, a Booth still on Dalton’s roof declares his dismissal “fair enough.”


    Sony

    Was the scene accurate?

    Lee did star in The Green Hornet, as the crime fighter’s sidekick and valet, Kato. But according to Lee biographer Matthew Polly, the scene was inaccurate in many ways. Lee “revered” Muhammad Ali, Polly told Esquire. "So the part in the movie where the Lee character says he would ‘cripple’ [the boxer] and Brad Pitt’s character comes to Ali’s defense is not only completely inaccurate, it turns Lee into a disrespectful blowhard and jerk.”

    And while Lee was known to have fought stuntmen on some of his sets once he returned to Hong Kong, "he never started the fights, they always came up to him and challenged him,” Polly says. He also always defeated these challengers handily, with their fights ending within 20 seconds.

    Lee also had a reputation for being kind to lower-ranking members of the cast and crews of the projects on which he worked. "Bruce was very famous for being very considerate of the people below him on film sets, particularly the stuntmen. He would often like buy them meals, or once he got famous, take them out to eat, or hand them a little extra cash, or look after their careers,” says Polly. "So in this scene, Bruce Lee is essentially calling out a stuntman and getting him fired because he’s the big star. And that’s just not who Bruce Lee was as a person."


    Bruce Lee on the set of Enter the Dragon, directed by Robert Clouse.
    Warner Bros. Pictures

    Why do some people have a problem with it?

    Despite having some basis in reality, Once Upon a Time is a fictional work—its ending proves that much. But Lee, who died in 1973, was a real-life person, and is still beloved worldwide as the most influential martial artist ever, and as one of the most iconic Asian American movie stars. He braved Hollywood’s racism and became a global superstar, decades before the American film industry would begin to improve upon its historically bigoted and emasculating depiction of Asian men.

    In short, his legacy is worthy of the respectful good taste with which Tarantino treats the other real-life figures that appear in the film, including Manson victims Sharon Tate and Jay Sebring, and Lee’s fellow Hollywood legend Steve McQueen. But Moh’s Lee is written as a bloviating ass whose presence was played for laughs and to give Booth’s character credibility as a skilled fighter. And while the fight is technically a draw, Booth loses his round with a pretty dignified fall on his butt—while Lee is thrown into a car by an anonymous, middle-aged stuntman.

    "There’s nothing else to call him but the butt of the joke, because everything that makes him powerful is the very thing that makes him laughable in the film,” film scholar Nancy Wang Yuen told the LA Times. “His kung fu becomes a joke, and his philosophizing becomes a fortune cookie, and the sounds that he makes as he does kung fu are literally made fun of by Cliff. They made his arrogance look like he was a fraud.”

    While Sharon Tate’s family signed off on her portrayal in the film, Shannon Lee wasn’t consulted on her late father’s depiction. "It was really uncomfortable to sit in the theater and listen to people laugh at my father,” she told The Wrap. "What I’m interested in is raising the consciousness of who Bruce Lee was as a human being and how he lived his life,” said. “All of that was flushed down the toilet in this portrayal, and made my father into this arrogant punching bag.”

    On Monday, it emerged that an early version of the scene would have seen Moh’s Lee even more decisively humiliated. In an interview with HuffPost, Once Upon a Time’s stunt coordinator revealed that the original script saw Booth’s fight with Lee going a full three rounds—with Lee losing in the end. "I know that Brad had expressed his concerns, and we all had concerns about Bruce losing,” said Alonzo.

    Being an Asian American myself, I definitely related to how Bruce was a symbol of how Asians should be portrayed in movies, instead of the old Breakfast at Tiffany’s model that was really prevalent back in the day. … I had a difficult time choreographing a fight where he lost. Everyone involved was like, "How is this going to go over?" Brad was very much against it. He was like, "It’s Bruce Lee, man!”
    "I love Quentin Tarantino. I absolutely adore his films, and I think every filmmaker has the right to do whatever they want with history,” said Polly. "What bothered me was that he was very reverential and sympathetic with Steve McQueen, Sharon Tate, and Jay Sebring, but Bruce’s portrayal was more mocking. And given that Bruce was the only non white historical figure in the whole film, I thought that was problematic."
    continued next post
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  4. #49
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    Continued from previous post

    What do the Tarantino’s defenders say?

    Defenders of the portrayal point out that Tarantino is an avowed Bruce Lee fan, who even based Uma Tarantino’s Kill Bill jumpsuit on an outfit Lee wore in his last film.

    And critic Walter Chaw, who counts Lee as his hero, found that Moh’s Lee felt humanized. "I would argue Tarantino’s decision to have Booth fight Lee to a draw doesn’t doesn’t take the air out of Lee; it takes the air out of the constructed mystique that Lee was forced to maintain,” he wrote for Vulture. "That by allowing Lee to regain a portion of his humanity, Tarantino is offering a different, more generous kind of Asian-American representation onscreen.”

    He was concerned, however, by hearing audience members in the theater laughing at Moh’s portrayal of the Chinese-accented Lee. "If you watch the new Tarantino, and there's any kind of audience, take note of how the audience reacts to the Bruce Lee impersonation,” Chaw tweeted. "This is what systemic racism looks like. Not the performance which is perfect, the reaction which is hard-wired into members of this culture."

    Sony Pictures' "Once Upon A Time...In Hollywood" Los Angeles Premiere - Arrivals
    Mike Moh arrives at the Sony Pictures’ "Once Upon A Time...In Hollywood" Los Angeles Premiere on July 22, 2019 in Hollywood, California.
    Steve Granitz

    Mike Moh also spoke about the scene. In an interview with Birth. Movies. Death, he also expressed feeling torn about the sequence. “When I first read it, I was like, wow,” he told the website. "I’m not going to tell you what the original script had exactly, but when I read it, I was so conflicted because he’s my hero—Bruce in my mind was literally a God.”

    But like Chaw, he described the scene as humanizing Lee:
    I can see how people might think Bruce got beat because of the impact with the car, but you give me five more seconds and Bruce would have won. So I know people are going to be up in arms about it, but when I went into my deep dive of studying Bruce, he more than anybody wanted people to know he's human. And I think I respect him m
    ore knowing that he had these challenges, these obstacles, just like everybody.

    Why did Tarantino write the scene like that?

    The Bruce Lee fight had a clear purpose. Booth is an underemployed stuntman who spends his day-to-day running errands for his boss, which doesn’t provide a lot of opportunity for the character to showcase his fighting skill before the film’s bloody finale. Depicting him as being at least as good, and potentially even a better fighter than Bruce Lee makes it a bit more credible when—spoiler—he takes on murderous Manson cultists in the film’s finale. But again, that boils down to tearing down an Asian-American icon in order to build up a fictional white guy.

    It also fits in with the film’s allegiances, which lie with the fading Western stars of the late 1960s. "I suspect the reason Tarantino felt the need to take Bruce down a notch is because Lee’s introduction of Eastern martial arts to Hollywood fight choreography represented a threat to the livelihood of old Western stuntmen like Cliff Booth, who were often incapable of adapting to a new era,” Polly told The Wrap, " and the film’s nostalgic, revisionist sympathies are entirely with the cowboys.”

    But as the end of the film serves as a rather sweet revisionist history, a portrait of a world in which the Manson Family never made it to 10050 Cielo Drive, the movie itself has an altogether more troubling eye for the past. In the world of Once Upon a Time, beautiful women like Sharon Tate dance often and speak little, and the old guard of white men squash all challenges to their dominance.

    "In a movie where Tarantino changes history to fit his violent wish fulfillment,” wrote filmmaker Joseph Kahn on Twitter, "it's odd that his revisionist fantasy of Bruce Lee is that he is a fraud who can easily be overpowered and smacked around by his cowboy avatar."

    GABRIELLE BRUNEY
    Gabrielle Bruney is a writer and editor for Esquire, where she focuses on politics and culture.
    THREADS
    Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
    Bruce Lee: A Life by Matt Polly
    Gene Ching
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  5. #50
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    Bruce Lee v Dracula

    Here is exactly my point. Anyone who knows Bruceploitation knows that Bruce Lee defeated Dracula in Dragon Lives Again (1977).

    Quentin Tarantino Defends ‘Hollywood’ Bruce Lee Fight From Claims It Mocks the Late Action Star
    Tarantino's depiction of Bruce Lee in "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" has become the film's most controversial topic.
    Zack Sharf
    Aug 12, 2019 2:25 pm
    @zsharf


    Mike Moh and Quentin Tarantino
    Michael Buckner/Variety/Shutterstock

    Quentin Tarantino broke his silence on the backlash to “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” during the film’s recent Moscow press conference. One of the biggest points of controversy surrounding the film is the scene in which Bruce Lee (Mike Moh) and Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) fight each other on the set of “The Green Hornet.” Bruce Lee’s daughter, Shannon, condemned Tarantino for portraying the martial arts legend as an “arrogant ******* who was full of hot air,” while Lee’s protégé Dan Inosanto said the film did not accurately portray the late action star. Inosanto pointed to a line in Tarantino’s script where Bruce Lee makes a dig at Muhammad Ali and said Lee “would have never said anything derogatory about Muhammad Ali because he worshiped the ground Muhammad Ali walked on.”

    “Bruce Lee was kind of an arrogant guy,” Tarantino told press about depicting the actor in such a cocky manner. “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 Mohammad Ali,’ well yeah he did. Alright? Not only did he say that but his wife, Linda Lee, said that in her first biography I ever read. She absolutely said that.”

    Bruce Lee fans have also taken Tarantino to task for the outcome of the fight scene. Bruce challenges Cliff to a three round fight, easily winning the first round by kicking Cliff to the floor within seconds. Cliff takes the second round in more brutal fashion by throwing Bruce into the side of a car. The two are neck and neck in the third round when the fight is broken up. There’s no actual winner of the fight, although many found it distasteful that Tarantino could diminish Bruce Lee’s fighting skills by having him thrown into a car by Cliff.

    “Could Cliff beat up Bruce Lee? Brad would not be able to beat up Bruce Lee, but Cliff maybe could,” Tarantino said. “If you ask me the question, ‘Who would win in a fight: Bruce Lee or Dracula?’ It’s the same question. It’s a fictional character. If I say Cliff can beat Bruce Lee up, he’s a fictional character so he could beat Bruce Lee up. The reality of the situation is this: Cliff is a Green Beret. He has killed many men in WWII in hand to hand combat. What Bruce Lee is talking about in the whole thing is that he admires warriors. He admires combat, and boxing is a closer approximation of combat as a sport. Cliff is not part of the sport that is like combat, he is a warrior. He is a combat person.”

    Tarantino summed up the fight by adding, “If Cliff were fighting Bruce Lee in a martial arts tournament in Madison Square Garden, Bruce would kill him. But if Cliff and Bruce were fighting in the jungles of the Philippines in a hand-to-hand combat fight Cliff would kill him.”

    “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” is now playing in theaters.

    Gene Ching
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  6. #51
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    I also read about Bruce Lee saying he could beat Muhammad Ali...then revealing that he was joking by saying (and I'm paraphrasing), "Of course I couldn't beat Muhammad Ali; look at his hands and look at my little Chinese hands." I read that decades ago.

    If the version I read is the true one, then QT is cherry-picking, lying, or simply read a different version. But QT says he HEARD BL say that. No he didn't. If anything, he READ about it. Big difference. QT did not know BL, never met BL, and BL never said that on film or video.

    Of course there were people who could have beaten BL. Lots of people in this world. BL was not the best fighter or H2H combat expert in the world. Probably not even close. He was a superbly, naturally-talented MAist with a ton of natural charisma and swagger. IMO more of an artist. He was whatever he was. The point of the criticism QT is getting is the disrespectful depiction of BL as solely a petty A-hole to be made a laughing stock. Sure BL was, by all accounts, an A-hole at times, especially when he was younger. QT himself comes across as a bit arrogant, not much different. QT's "admiration" of BL is probably nothing more than derivative; using the yellow tracksuit in Kill Bill may be more of an appropriation than true admiration. Maybe he should ask Jackie Chan how BL treated his stuntmen and other "underlings".
    Last edited by Jimbo; 08-13-2019 at 02:07 PM.

  7. #52
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    he said she said?

    Is Shannon playing into QT's buzzworthy trap or is she coattailing on the buzz?

    Coincidentally I'm working on a Bruceploitation-related piece right now.

    AUGUST 14, 2019 4:01PM PT
    Bruce Lee’s Daughter Says Quentin Tarantino ‘Could Shut Up’ About Her Father’s Portrayal (EXCLUSIVE)
    By AUDREY CLEO YAP

    Bruce Lee’s daughter, Shannon Lee, is responding to director Quentin Tarantino’s latest comments regarding her father’s portrayal in the film “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.”

    “He could shut up about it,” she told Variety when asked how Tarantino could rectify the controversy. “That would be really nice. Or he could apologize or he could say, ‘I don’t really know what Bruce Lee was like. I just wrote it for my movie. But that shouldn’t be taken as how he really was.'”

    Tarantino recently defended his depiction of the Asian American martial arts legend (portrayed by Mike Moh) as an arrogant blowhard. “Bruce Lee was kind of an arrogant guy,” Tarantino said at a recent press junket in Moscow. “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.”

    Not the case, Shannon Lee says.

    “One of the things that’s troubling in his response is that, on the one hand, he wants to put this forward as fact and, on the other hand, he wants to stay in fiction,” she added.

    Lee said that her father’s confidence could be mistaken for arrogance and does not call him a “perfect man.” However, she noted that the kind of criticism Tarantino draws on is one that she has heard before, primarily from other white men who were in martial arts and in Hollywood.

    The passage in his wife Linda Lee Cadwell’s book, “Bruce Lee: The Man Only I Knew,” that Tarantino appears to refer to is a quote from a critic, who wrote that “Those who watched [Bruce] Lee would bet on Lee to render Cassius Clay senseless,” and not from the author herself (Clay was later known as Muhammad Ali).

    “[Tarantino] can portray Bruce Lee however he wanted to, and he did,” Shannon Lee said. “But it’s a little disingenuous for him to say, ‘Well, this is how he was, but this is a fictional movie, so don’t worry too much about it.’”

    Bruce Lee’s protégé and training partner Dan Inosanto also rejected the idea that Lee would have bragged about being able to defeat Muhammad Ali in a previous interview with Variety.

    A former TV host and current executive producer of Cinemax’s “Warrior” (based on a TV treatment Bruce Lee wrote), Shannon Lee is the caretaker of her father’s estate and charity foundation.

    Lee was returning from a trip to Hong Kong where she had been working with the Hong Kong Heritage Museum on refreshing its Bruce Lee exhibit and expanding a martial arts summer camp program when she heard about Tarantino’s response to criticism about the film’s portrayal of her late father.
    Gene Ching
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  8. #53
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    Kareem

    Man, this just keeps on going...not a day goes by when I don't see QT in my newsfeed now.

    Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Bruce Lee Was My Friend, and Tarantino's Movie Disrespects Him
    8:08 AM PDT 8/16/2019 by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar


    Alamy Stock Photo
    Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bruce Lee during the filming of 1978’s 'Game of Death.'

    The NBA great and Hollywood Reporter columnist, a friend of the late martial arts star, believes the filmmaker was sloppy, somewhat racist and shirked his responsibility to basic truth in 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.'

    Remember that time Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. kidney-punched a waiter for serving soggy croutons in his tomato soup? How about the time the Dalai Lama got wasted and spray-painted “Karma Is a Beach” on the Tibetan ambassador’s limo? Probably not, since they never happened. But they could happen if a filmmaker decides to write those scenes into his or her movie. And, even though we know the movie is fiction, those scenes will live on in our shared cultural conscience as impressions of those real people, thereby corrupting our memory of them built on their real-life actions.

    That’s why filmmakers have a responsibility when playing with people’s perceptions of admired historic people to maintain a basic truth about the content of their character. Quentin Tarantino’s portrayal of Bruce Lee in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood does not live up to this standard. Of course, Tarantino has the artistic right to portray Bruce any way he wants. But to do so in such a sloppy and somewhat racist way is a failure both as an artist and as a human being.

    This controversy has left me torn. Tarantino is one of my favorite filmmakers because he is so bold, uncompromising and unpredictable. There’s a giddy energy in his movies of someone who loves movies and wants you to love them, too. I attend each Tarantino film as if it were an event, knowing that his distillation of the ’60s and ’70s action movies will be much more entertaining than a simple homage. That’s what makes the Bruce Lee scenes so disappointing, not so much on a factual basis, but as a lapse of cultural awareness.

    Bruce Lee was my friend and teacher. That doesn’t give him a free pass for how he’s portrayed in movies. But it does give me some insight into the man. I first met Bruce when I was a student at UCLA looking to continue my martial arts studies, which I started in New York City. We quickly developed a friendship as well as a student-teacher relationship. He taught me the discipline and spirituality of martial arts, which was greatly responsible for me being able to play competitively in the NBA for 20 years with very few injuries.


    SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT
    Mike Moh as Bruce Lee in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

    During our years of friendship, he spoke passionately about how frustrated he was with the stereotypical representation of Asians in film and TV. The only roles were for inscrutable villains or bowing servants. In Have Gun - Will Travel, Paladin’s faithful Chinese servant goes by the insulting name of “Hey Boy” (Kam Tong). He was replaced in season four by a female character referred to as “Hey Girl” (Lisa Lu). Asian men were portrayed as sexless accessories to a scene, while the women were subservient. This was how African-American men and women were generally portrayed until the advent of Sidney Poitier and blaxploitation films. Bruce was dedicated to changing the dismissive image of Asians through his acting, writing and promotion of Jeet Kune Do, his interpretation of martial arts.

    That’s why it disturbs me that Tarantino chose to portray Bruce in such a one-dimensional way. The John Wayne machismo attitude of Cliff (Brad Pitt), an aging stuntman who defeats the arrogant, uppity Chinese guy harks back to the very stereotypes Bruce was trying to dismantle. Of course the blond, white beefcake American can beat your fancy Asian chopsocky dude because that foreign crap doesn’t fly here.

    I might even go along with the skewered version of Bruce if that wasn’t the only significant scene with him, if we’d also seen a glimpse of his other traits, of his struggle to be taken seriously in Hollywood. Alas, he was just another Hey Boy prop to the scene. The scene is complicated by being presented as a flashback, but in a way that could suggest the stuntman’s memory is cartoonishly biased in his favor. Equally disturbing is the unresolved shadow that Cliff may have killed his wife with a spear gun because she nagged him. Classic Cliff. Is Cliff more heroic because he also doesn’t put up with outspoken women?

    I was in public with Bruce several times when some random jerk would loudly challenge Bruce to a fight. He always politely declined and moved on. First rule of Bruce’s fight club was don’t fight — unless there is no other option. He felt no need to prove himself. He knew who he was and that the real fight wasn’t on the mat, it was on the screen in creating opportunities for Asians to be seen as more than grinning stereotypes. Unfortunately, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood prefers the good old ways.


    Photofest
    Lee and Kareem's 1978 Game of Death fight sequence, which can be seen here.

    This story appears in the Aug. 21 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
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  9. #54
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    IMO, Kareem has put the real truth about it out there better than anybody else.

  10. #55
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    Another side of this 'controversy'

    I'd heard this tale before but didn't consider it until reading this story which refreshed my memory.


    Brad Pitt in 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
    SONY/ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD

    TRUE STORY
    DEBUNKING QUENTIN TARANTINO'S 'MOCKERY' OF BRUCE LEE
    By Eugene S. Robinson

    WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
    Because real-life tough guys need to be heeded.

    Bob Calhoun
    Berkeley, California

    The real story of Bruce Lee’s confrontation with a grizzled Hollywood stuntman is far more complex than what’s depicted in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood.

    The scene ****es me off, but there’s a grain of truth to it.

    Brad Pitt as broken-down stuntman Cliff Booth kicks Bruce Lee’s (Mike Moh’s) ass on the set of The Green Hornet in Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood, Tarantino’s epic revisionist history of Tinseltown. Pitt gets to look cool, while Bruce Lee — a breakthrough Asian film star — is turned into kooky Asian comic relief akin to Mickey Rooney sporting yellowface as the Japanese landlord in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. And with all of Pitt’s punchlines and Moh’s pratfalls, the older White dudes in theater 11 at the Century 16 Bayfair in San Leandro cackled like crazy.

    LEBELL LIFTED [BRUCE] LEE ONTO HIS BACK IN WHAT’S CALLED A FIREMAN’S CARRY AND RAN AROUND THE SET WITH HIM. “PUT ME DOWN OR I’LL KILL YOU!” LEE SCREAMED.
    Bruce Lee’s daughter, Shannon Lee, called the portrayal of Lee in Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood a “mockery.” While she’s not wrong, there actually was a stuntman who locked horns with Lee on the set of The Green Hornet in 1966.

    He’s now 87 years old and enjoying semiretirement in Sherman Oaks, California, after a career crashing cars, being set on fire and wrestling bears. “Judo” Gene LeBell was known in the business as the toughest man alive, and I should know since I co-authored his autobiography, The Godfather of Grappling.

    According to LeBell, Lee was a working stiff on the set of The Green Hornet but was kicking the **** out of the stuntmen. They couldn’t convince him that he could go easy and it would still look great on film. The show’s stunt coordinator, Bennie Dobbins, needed a ringer to deal with Lee, so he called in Judo Gene.


    Gene LeBell on the set of ‘Bionic Woman.’
    SOURCE GETTY IMAGES

    LeBell says when he got to the set, Dobbins told him to put Lee “in a headlock or something.”

    So LeBell went up and grabbed Lee. “He started making all those noises that he became famous for,” LeBell said, “but he didn’t try to counter me, so I think he was more surprised than anything else.”

    Then LeBell lifted Lee onto his back in what’s called a fireman’s carry and ran around the set with him.

    “Put me down or I’ll kill you!” Lee screamed.

    “I can’t put you down or you’ll kill me,” LeBell said, holding Lee there as long as he dared before putting him down, saying, “Hey, Bruce, don’t kill me. Just kidding, champ.”

    Back on his feet again, Lee didn’t kill LeBell. Instead, Lee recognized that the lack of grappling was a deficiency in the Jeet Kune Do style of martial arts he was developing. So Lee trained with LeBell for a little over a year with LeBell showing Lee armbars, leg locks and takedowns, and Lee schooling LeBell in kung fu kicks.

    After training with LeBell, Lee incorporated grappling moves into his film fighting. He finishes off Chuck Norris with a chokehold in Way of the Dragon (1972) and beats a young Sammo Hung with an armbar in Enter the Dragon (1973).

    “I didn’t go to Hong Kong with him for Enter the Dragon, but when he came back, he told me, ‘I did this armbar to show you,’” LeBell recalled. Lee died before Enter the Dragon — his ultimate career accomplishment and posthumous breakthrough as a global movie and martial arts star — but he did return to Hollywood after completing the film in a frantic bid to line up his next projects.

    While they trained together, LeBell became Lee’s favorite kicking dummy in episodes of The Green Hornet and Longstreet. “He really liked the way I took falls for him,” LeBell says.


    Quentin Tarantino behind the scenes of ’Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.’
    SOURCE SONY/ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD

    When I talked to LeBell last night, he was blissfully unaware that Brad Pitt was playing a cowboy fantasy version of him in Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood.

    “It’s a lot of bull****,” LeBell said. “But you can’t eat glory.”

    But actually knowing LeBell makes Tarantino’s fiction all the more galling. In his cute little scene, Tarantino sells both Lee and LeBell short.

    When LeBell scooped Lee up on the set of The Green Hornet, he was already a world-class martial artist when there weren’t that many in the United States. LeBell was a two-time national judo champion. He had also trained and wrestled at the Kōdōkan in Tokyo, the mecca of judo. He had fought and won what many consider to be the first mixed martial arts fight when he took on ranked light heavyweight boxer Milo Savage in 1963.

    LeBell’s mother, Aileen Eaton, was the top boxing and wrestling promoter in Los Angeles, so LeBell was learning chokeholds from guys like Ed “Strangler” Lewis when he was just 7 years old. LeBell parlayed his pain-inducing skills into careers in martial arts, professional wrestling and Hollywood stunt work, making him the ultimate ass-kicking Renaissance man, as well as a true son of the City of Angels.

    And this is what it took to just pick up Bruce Lee and clown him during a TV shoot. Somebody like Brad Pitt’s Cliff Booth would have just been one of the guys begging the show’s stunt coordinator to call in Judo Gene. So when LeBell asks me to track down Tarantino to set the record straight, the only thing I can do is say yes.

    “You’ve gotta put Bruce Lee over,” LeBell said during our phone conversation. “He means so much to martial arts. You’ve gotta put him over, Bob.”

    Eugene S. Robinson, Editor-at-Large
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  11. #56
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    I've been aware of the Gene LeBell/Bruce Lee story for years, and yes, I believe it. LeBell himself mentioned it, and I highly doubt he would lie about that. I have doubts that QT was aware of it, though, or else he most likely would have brought it up when 'defending' himself from his critics.

    It's also a fact that during a single private training session on the mat, LeBell easily defeated three famous MAists one after the other; Chuck Norris, Bob Wall, and legendary Australian MAist/former bodyguard Richard Norton. IIRC, Richard Norton even screamed and passed out from the pain at one point. And lots of people know about Steven Seagal soiling himself after being choked out by LeBell.

    As the article mentioned, LeBell was and is far more than only a stuntman. Stuntmen are a very tough breed, but LeBell was in a whole other category in terms of his MA knowledge and actual fighting ability.
    Last edited by Jimbo; 08-20-2019 at 08:50 AM.

  12. #57
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    $$$ out

    Quentin Tarantino's 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood' Nears $200M Globally
    1:14 PM PDT 8/18/2019 by Pamela McClintock

    The movie — which has finally begun rolling out overseas — could end up nearly matching or even surpassing the filmmaker's biggest film to date, 'Django Unchained.'

    Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is headed for a fairy tale ending at the worldwide box office.

    The movie — affirming the filmmaker's enduring popularity, as well as the star power of Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt — will likely end up being the second-biggest movie of Tarantino's career behind Django Unchained at the worldwide box office, not adjusted for inflation. There's also a chance it could overtake Django.

    However, most box office analysts predict that Once Upon a Time will ultimately earn between $375 million and $400 million globally, surpassing Pulp Fiction ($212 million) and Inglourious Basterds ($316.9 million). Through Sunday, its worldwide cume stood at $180.2 million — and it's only just begun its overseas rollout.

    "The movie is arguably the most accessible and entertaining of all of Tarantino's films and given its collective star power, great marketing campaign and generally great reviews, it should be no surprise that the film has become a global breakout hit," says Paul Dergarabedian of Comscore. "And Once Upon a Time in Hollywood certainly has the potential to become the highest-grossing Tarantino movie ever."

    Tarantino's Django Unchained, also starring DiCaprio and released over the Christmas holidays in 2012, grossed $162.8 million domestically and $262.6 million overseas for a career-best global haul of $425.4 million.

    Once Upon a Time transformed into an instant success story in North America late last month upon launching to $41.1 million on its way to earning a stellar $114.3 million to date (it is the only original summer tentpole to cross the century mark domestically).

    How Once Upon a Time would fare overseas wasn't clear until this weekend, when it finally rolled out in earnest. The pic topped the international chart with $53.7 million from 46 markets for an early foreign total of $66.2 million (it launched in Russia and two small markets a week ago).

    According to Sony, Once Upon a Time opened notably ahead of Django — by 30 percent — in those foreign markets where it has landed, a promising sign. It also debuted ahead of The Wolf of Wall Street and on par with The Revenant, both starring DiCaprio.

    Once Upon a Time placed No. 1 in 28 markets. The U.K. turned in a five-day total of $8.9 million, while France launched with $6.9 million, followed by Germany ($5.6 million) and Australia ($4.4 million).

    Tarantino's film continues to hold well in Russia, where it opened to a career-best $7.7 million last weekend. Total ticket sales there have grown to $13.3 million, while Hong Kong and Taiwan have turned in $1.2 million and $1.1 million, respectively.

    Major markets yet to open include Mexico (Friday), Japan (Aug. 30), Italy (Sept. 18) and South Korea (Sept. 26). There's no word yet on a China release date. China's Bona Film Group co-financed Once Upon a Time and is handling distribution duties in such Asian markets as Hong Kong.
    Hong Kong is a pre-occupied right now, but I'm really curious how they will react to the depiction of their favorite son.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
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  13. #58
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    Still part of the conversation...

    ...is this due to the influence of QT...or Bruce?



    Once Upon a Time in... Hollywood’s Bruce Lee: When revisionist history goes awry
    Quentin Tarantino’s vision of 1960’s Los Angeles includes a less than flattering re-imagining of one of martial arts’ most notable practitioners.
    By Carolyn Lee Adams Aug 21, 2019, 12:00pm EDT

    Spoiler Alert: Details of a scene in the film ‘Once Upon a Time in... Hollywood’ involving Bruce Lee are revealed below.

    Thelonious Monk once said, “A genius is the one most like himself.” By that measure, Quentin Tarantino is most certainly a genius, for he is relentlessly himself—be it for good (Kill Bill Vol.2) or bad (Death Proof). Tarantino’s latest film, Once Upon a Time in... Hollywood, boldly mixes fact and fiction as it takes on Charles Manson and the tail end of the golden age of Hollywood. It is an ambitious work of cinema, but Tarantino’s willingness to play fast and loose with the truth isn’t always successful. Case in point, an unfortunate sequence involving martial arts legend, Bruce Lee.

    The scene, involving an extended monologue from Lee and an eventual fistfight, feels gratuitous—and it’s hard not to wonder what prompted Tarantino to include it. It establishes Cliff Booth – played by Brad Pitt – as a bad ass, but there were likely far easier and more efficient ways to do that. Clearly there were things Tarantino wanted to express about Bruce Lee and martial arts, while making use of a true story about Lee getting bested by a stuntman.

    Let’s begin with that true story.


    Van Williams (left) and Bruce Lee (right) on the set of the Green Hornet.

    There was trouble on the set of The Green Hornet. Bruce Lee kept hurting the stuntmen. Wanting to make the fight scenes look as real as possible, Lee wasn’t exactly pulling his punches. And the stuntmen were complaining. Bennie Dobbins, the stunt coordinator for the show, decided Lee needed a lesson. He called in ‘Judo’ Gene LeBell, the toughest stuntman Dobbins knew, to teach it.

    LeBell had come by the reputation honestly. He was the son of Aileen Eaton, a boxing and wrestling promoter in Los Angeles. From a young age, LeBell learned how to fight from the best. He’d gone on to become a two-time national judo champion, and had trained in Tokyo at Kōdōkan. He’d even competed in a true mixed martial arts contest, taking on ranked light heavyweight boxer Milo Savage in 1963.



    When LeBell showed up on set, he did exactly what Dobbins hoped he’d do—he got the better of Bruce Lee. LeBell simply picked Lee up, threw him over his shoulder, and carried him around. Lee didn’t take it very well, screaming out death threats all throughout.

    In the end, however, the only thing injured was Lee’s pride—and he recognized that LeBell’s grappling skills gave him a fighting advantage. He set about learning from LeBell. In terms of entertainment, this new knowledge culminated in Lee’s use of an armbar in Enter the Dragon.

    But, obviously, Bruce Lee wasn’t just an entertainer. He was also a martial artist. His desire to create a truly effective fighting style resulted in the development of Jeet Kune Do. Before his death, he decided style itself hindered fighting, and left behind his newly developed form.
    In 2004, and a few times since, Dana White credited Bruce Lee as the “father of MMA.” Although Bruce Lee was certainly a strong influence, it seems strange to call him the father of the sport. The fact LeBell competed in a true mixed martial arts contest prior to meeting Lee belies the point. Even Lee himself, while still just a kid in 1950’s Hong Kong, was inspired by the mixed martial arts exploits of Mas Oyama. Decades earlier, Mitsuyo Maeda traveled the world taking on boxers, wrestlers, and street fighters with his ‘jiu-do’—making it to Brazil in 1914 and taking on a student named Carlos Gracie.



    But sure, let’s go ahead with the idea that Bruce Lee was the father of MMA, as this seems to be an idea Tarantino is also invested in. Mike Moh, who plays Lee in Once Upon a Time in... Hollywood, gets an opportunity to chew the scenery for two minutes and nine seconds (I timed it). An unheard of amount of cinema real estate for one soliloquy that really has nothing to do with anything, as far as the plot is concerned.

    In this monologue, Lee expresses his distaste of martial arts tournaments and an appreciation for the real world danger of boxing. He then essentially describes MMA, saying, “That’s beyond athletics. Beyond the Wide World of Sports. That’s what I admire. Two warriors, facing each other.” An unseen stagehand asks Lee who would win such a fight, Lee or Muhammed Ali. Lee says he’d “cripple” Ali.


    Mike Moh (right) as Bruce Lee, fighting Brad Pitt (left) as Cliff Booth on the set of Once Upon a Time in... Hollywood.

    Enter Cliff Booth, a war hero and who apparently got away with murdering his wife. Booth scoffs at the idea of Lee beating Ali, prompting Lee to challenge Booth to combat. Although technically no winner is decided, Booth throws Lee into a car – a car built in the 1960’s, no less – and Lee’s body makes a massive dent in the door. Lee is fine.

    Adding to the cartoon-ish veneer of the entire thing, is the cringe-inducing stereotypical way that Lee is portrayed.

    Tarantino defended his caricature of Bruce Lee, calling him “arrogant,” and claimed, “I heard him say things like that, to that effect. If people are saying, ‘Well he never said he could beat up Muhammad Ali.’ Uh, yeah, he did.”

    If Bruce Lee did say that, the record of it has been well hidden.

    Much easier to find is a story told by Robert Clause, director of Enter the Dragon. Lee was in the business of studying Ali and speculating as to what would happen if they ever fought. Lee raised his fist and said, “That’s a little Chinese hand. He’d kill me.”

    Was Bruce Lee arrogant at times? No doubt. It takes a big sense of self to take on the creation of a new approach to martial arts, while also becoming an entertainment icon. But it also took humility to seek out wisdom from the stuntman who embarrassed him in public.

    Along with his depiction of Lee, Tarantino also addressed the film’s assertion that Cliff Booth could beat up martial arts star. To recap the fictional character, Booth is a WWII veteran and war hero with hand-to-hand combat experience. As far as the audience can tell, he’s spent much of the last twenty years of his life driving Leonardo DiCaprio around, doing some stunts, handyman jobs, and drinking a lot. Meanwhile, Lee, a superior athlete, has been pursuing martial arts excellence with extreme dedication.

    While acknowledging Brad Pitt would be unable to beat up Bruce Lee, Tarantino asserts, “If I say Cliff could beat Bruce Lee up, he’s a fictional character, then he could beat Bruce Lee up.”

    Well, I say he couldn’t.

    So there.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  14. #59
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    Bruce Lee was an interesting person, no doubt. He was critical of karate tournaments, yet he attended a lot of them. He also said that he would NOT have wanted to face karate fighter/judoka Jim Harrison in a real fight. I believe he said the same about Mike Stone. Jim Harrison was a genuine badass, with real-life fighting experience far beyond tournaments. I have no trouble picturing Harrison either beating BL, or at least making BL look really bad.

    Which is a moot point for this movie, because QT, by all appearances, only relates to BL and MA in general as they appeared in movies, and almost certainly has never even heard of Jim Harrison (or Mike Stone).
    Last edited by Jimbo; 08-22-2019 at 09:20 AM.

  15. #60
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    I wouldn't quite call it 'moot' yet Jimbo

    As y'all know, I read the newsfeeds pretty much every working day scanning for martial arts news to poach and post here on our forum. It's been inundated with this discussion. For every article about this that I post, there are at least a dozen 'echo' articles - other websites that re-write an original interview piece to glean traffic (sure, that's kind of what I do here too, which is why this forum stays alive).

    That being said, there's this - what about Tate & Sebring and their families? I touched on the cluster of Tate projects coming in my review published over a month ago already.

    PEOPLE.COM
    CRIME
    Relatives of Sharon Tate and Jay Sebring 'Haunted' by Slayings 50 Years Later: 'There Is No Closure'
    The relatives of Sharon Tate and Jay Sebring speak out about the memories of their loved ones and the continued interest in their killers
    By Elaine Aradillas August 21, 2019 08:00 AM

    It has been half a century since the deaths of seven people during a two-day killing spree in Los Angeles terrorized a nation, but the loved ones left behind have been unable to leave their pain in the past.

    Murder victim Jay Sebring’s niece Mishele DiMaria has a vivid memory from the summer of 2009 when she saw her favorite band perform in Las Vegas. But when the band’s lead singer emerged onstage wearing a “Charlie’s Angels” T-shirt emblazoned with the image of infamous cult leader Charles Manson and three of his female followers, her excitement disappeared.

    “I felt like I got kicked in the gut,” she says. “The happiness ripped right out of me. To know that I had unknowingly supported someone who supports the killers of my uncle Jay made me physically ill. The scar was ripped open.”

    Sebring was among seven people murdered by Manson Family members. On Aug. 9, 1969, police discovered the bodies of Sebring, 8-months-pregnant actress Sharon Tate, Abigail Folger, Voytek Frykowski and Steven Parent at Tate’s house in Benedict Canyon.


    WOYTECK FRYKOWSK

    The next day, the slain bodies of Los Angeles grocer Leno LaBianca and his wife Rosemary were found in their Los Feliz home, about nine miles away.

    The murders have inspired books, television shows, such as the recent Netflix series Mindhunter, and movies, including the summer hit Once Upon a Time in … Hollywood, which features actors Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate and Emile Hirsch as Jay Sebring. And with every mention and new portrayal, the families of the victims are forced to grieve all over again.


    Debra Tate JORDAN STRAUSS/INVISION/AP/SHUTTERSTOCK


    • For more on how the victims of the Manson Family murders cope with their grief, subscribe now to PEOPLE or pick up this week’s issue, on newsstands Friday.

    Debra Tate, Sharon’s younger sister, has spent her life keeping Sharon’s memory alive while fighting to keep the killers in prison. Although Debra has tried to stay out of the spotlight, she says strangers fascinated with the case inevitably come knocking on her door.


    Anthony DiMaria GARY CORONADO/LOS ANGELES TIMES/GETTY
    Shortly before the 50th anniversary, a man walked up to her front door in Southern California and asked if she was related to Sharon. He said he had a message from Manson. She immediately grabbed her shotgun and let the stranger know she was armed. The stranger left — but the incident left her shaken.

    “I have death threats on Facebook, I have people breaching my gate, I’ve got weirdos on my own personal site,” she says. “It’s very alarming and I would be a fool if I didn’t pay attention to it and treat it as credible.”

    Despite the risks, Debra attends every parole hearing and speaks on behalf of family members who can’t attend (she submits signatures from her website, No Parole for Manson Family). Meanwhile, Sebring’s nephew Anthony DiMaria is preparing to release a documentary about his uncle’s life as a businessman and celebrity hairstylist. They are determined to make sure the lives of the victims are not forgotten.

    “Unless every one of the victims get out of their graves and live the 50 years they should have lived with us and all of their friends who loved them, there is no closure,” DiMaria says.


    By Elaine Aradillas
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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