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 pisses 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.