NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the latest figure to criticize Quentin Tarantino’s portrayal of Bruce Lee in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
In a column for The Hollywood Reporter, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar pens his criticism against Quentin Tarantino’s take on the martial arts legend. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar previously worked with Bruce Lee on the martial arts film The Game of Death, and considered him his “friend and teacher”.
You can read an excerpt from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s THR column down below:
“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.”
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar also expresses that this controversy in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood left him conflicted, because he’s an admirer of the filmmaker. However, he feels that based on Quentin Tarantino’s wealth of knowledge of cinematic history, this portrayal falls short for numerous reasons:
“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.”
This column from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the latest form of criticism made against this portrayal of Bruce Lee in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Shannon Lee, who is the daughter of the late martial arts legend, made headlines when she expressed her disappointment with how the film portrayed her father. Actor Mike Moh also responded to Shannon Lee’s dismay.
Do you agree with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar? What do you make of this controversy regarding Quentin Tarantino’s portrayal of Bruce Lee? Sound off in the comments below.
Here is the official synopsis for Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood:
Quentin Tarantino’s ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD visits 1969 Los Angeles, where everything is changing, as TV star Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his longtime stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) make their way around an industry they hardly recognize anymore. The ninth film from the writer-director features a large ensemble cast and multiple storylines in a tribute to the final moments of Hollywood’s golden age.
Written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Emile Hirsch, Margaret Qualley, Timothy Olyphant, Austin Butler, Dakota Fanning, Bruce Dern, Mike Moh, and Al Pacino.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is now playing in theaters.