Bruce Lee's Daughter Slams His 'Caricature'-Like Portrayal in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
"It was really uncomfortable to sit in the theater and listen to people laugh at my father," Shannon Lee told The Wrap of the late Bruce Lee
Warning: Spoilers for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood follow.
In Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Bruce — played by Mike Moh — is seen standing up to Brad Pitt‘s fictional character, stuntman Cliff Booth, on the 1969 set of The Green Hornet. The two duke it out for one round where Bruce bests the newcomer, but in the following round, Booth easily overtakes the martial arts legend — appearing to be the supreme sportsman.
Speaking with The Wrap, Shannon expressed disappointment in how her father was treated onscreen “in the way that white Hollywood did when he was alive.”
“He comes across as an arrogant a–hole who was full of hot air,” Shannon, 50, an actress and martial artist herself, explained to the outlet. “And not someone who had to fight triple as hard as any of those people did to accomplish what was naturally given to so many others.”
PEOPLE has reached out to Sony, the film’s studio, for comment.
Lee’s daughter added in her interviewthat while she “can understand all the reasoning behind what is portrayed in the movie,” it covers “a period of time that clearly had a lot of racism and exclusion.”
“It was really uncomfortable to sit in the theater and listen to people laugh at my father,” she said. “Here, he’s the one with all the puffery and he’s the one challenging Brad Pitt. Which is not how he was.”
As for Moh’s performance, the late star’s daughter praised the 35-year-old actor’s accurate voice and mannerisms but noted, “I think he was directed to be a caricature” — and pointed out that Moh’s hairstyle and sunglasses were based on the look Bruce donned during his Enter the Dragon era in the early ’70s, before his death in 1973 at age 32. (Enter the Dragon was released posthumously.)
As Shannon previously recounted to PEOPLE, she was only 4 years old when she lost her father.
She said she has vivid memories of him and still feels a close connection.
“When he focused his attention on you, it was like having the sun shine on you,” Shannon said. “That feeling has stayed with me my whole life.”
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is now playing.