Quentin Tarantino’s movie Once Upon a Time in Hollywood has a small episode featuring the famous actor Bruce Lee, and this appearance has caused a lot of controversies. The film, in which the main roles are played by Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt, takes place in 1969.
The film explores the conflict between film industry veterans and the counter-cultural movement. For dramatic purposes, Tarantino uses the infamous story of Manson’s so-called “family” as a plot. In general, the movie Once Upon a Time in Hollywood shows that all professionals from Los Angeles crave fame and respect.
During his short appearance in the film, Lee demonstrates the skills that made him famous, as well as his involvement in the Hollywood film industry. But in fact, this episode helps to more clearly reveal the character of the hero Pitt.
Pitt’s character, stuntman Cliff Booth, agrees to fix Rick Dalton’s television aerial while he is busy working on a project. This happens shortly after Dalton tells Booth that it’s almost impossible to find a stunt man on the set because Randy (Kurt Russell) is the organizer of the stunts and Cliff has a bad relationship with him. It was then that Cliff remembered the story when they last worked with Randy on the set of The Green Hornet.
However, it is unclear whether Cliff recalls a past event or, perhaps, it’s just his fantasy. Mike Mo plays Bruce Lee in the movie Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Lee made his Hollywood debut as Kato in The Green Hornet in 1966, which means that this incident takes place in a picture in the not so distant past.
At that time, Lee was trying to make a career in Hollywood. The future icon, performed by Mo, boasts on the set that his fists have declared themselves to be “deadly weapons.” Unimpressed, Booth does not agree with Lee’s statement about Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali), after which Lee challenges him, and both agree to a friendly match.
Booth gets a kick in the chest. From his retaliatory strike, Lee flies into the car behind. The fight ends in a draw, it is interrupted by the incoming Randy and his wife Janet (Zoë Bell). For Bout, this is a moment of triumph and defeat. He was convincingly asked not to upset Janet because she believes in rumors that Booth killed his wife.
However, Booth realizes that he can still compete with the young hot stuntman. This particular scene provoked the ire of the audience, who believed that Lee’s image was distorted in the film. Although this is so, perhaps it’s just the memories of Booth or his fantasies. Perhaps his memories are not true. In the end, memories can be distorted over time.
In real life, Lee taught martial arts to celebrities Jay Sebring and Sharon Tate, who was tragically killed by Manson’s “family” in 1969. In fact, Polanski, according to some sources, suspected for many years that Lee was involved in Tate’s death.
In Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, the character Lee emphasizes the authenticity of the story and helps create the myth of Cliff Booth. Rumors have destroyed the reputation of a fictional stuntman, but in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, there is no evidence that Booth really killed his wife. However, there is evidence that Booth is completely confident in his skills and is completely calm.
When Bout is taken to extremes, he reacts accordingly, as evidenced by the dramatic scene at Span’s ranch. It is important to note that the hero of Lee and the fight scene allow Tarantino to play with the audience, mixing facts with fiction. It is a matter of perception and what everyone wants to see. Bruce Lee was not a Hollywood icon in 1969, but he certainly became one of them later.