Quentin Tarantino refuses to bend to Chinese censors in new film after backlash over Bruce Lee

(Screengrab from “Once Upon a Time In Hollywood,” Sony Pictures Entertainment)

While Lebron James and the NBA may be willing to crouch down and lick the hand of Communist China, filmmaker Quentin Tarantino says to count him out.

Chinese censors have reportedly taken issue with Tarantino’s new flick, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” which was released stateside in July.

The film was pulled from the schedule in China days before its release and Tarantino has not intentions of recutting it to appease communist regulators, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The film, a Sony Pictures Entertainment production starring Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio, has been put on hold indefinitely by the Chinese, the entertainment news site reported.

And while no reason was reportedly given to Sony for the decision, the speculation is that Tarantino’s portrayal of the late martial arts hero Bruce Lee, who was of Chinese descent, is driving the decision.

Lee’s daughter has expressed harsh criticism about how her father is depicted in the film and she may have appealed to the Chinese government.

More from THR:

As THR previously reported, sources close to Beijing-based Bona Film Group, which is one of the investors in the film, and China’s Film Bureau, say Bruce Lee’s daughter, Shannon Lee, made a direct appeal to China’s National Film Administration, asking that it demand changes to her father’s portrayal. Friends and family of the Hollywood action star have criticized Tarantino for his portrayal of Lee, saying it doesn’t resemble the real-life man and is instead a caricature.

The daughter, Shannon Lee, told The Wrap it was “disheartening” to see Tarantino depict her father as “an arrogant a**hole who was full of hot air.”

The scene in question involves Pitt’s character, stuntman Cliff Booth, trading insults with the Bruce Lee character, played by Mike Moh.

The two engage in a best two-out-of-three rounds fight on the set of “The Green Hornet” TV show. Lee bests Pitt’s character in the first round, but is stunned in the second round when he’s slammed into a car. The third round is interrupted before coming to an end.

The scene can be viewed below:

In her objection, Shannon Lee made race part of the equation.

“I can understand all the reasoning behind what is portrayed in the movie,” she said. “I understand that the two characters are antiheroes and this is sort of like a rage fantasy of what would happen … and they’re portraying a period of time that clearly had a lot of racism and exclusion.”

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

As for his portrayal of Lee, Tarantino is not apologizing.

“Bruce Lee was kind of an arrogant guy,” the filmmaker said. “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 it.”

The NBA effectively surrendered to China by issuing an apology following a pro-Hong Kong tweet from Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey, and this prompted a number of NBA stars, including James, to back the league’s play.

“South Park” creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker have had their own problems with Chinese censors, but unlike the NBA, they weren’t about to cower to the communists.

Instead, they offered up a mock apology for an episode, titled “Band in China,” of their show.

Needless to say, Beijing wasn’t pleased, booting “South Park” from all Chinese streaming services and social media.


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