There’s been much discussion of famed director Quentin Tarantino’s portrayal of martial arts legend Bruce Lee in his latest movie, “Once Upon A Time…in Hollywood.” Now it’s time Joe Rogan weighs in on the controversy.
In the popular film set in late 1960s Los Angeles, star Brad Pitt’s character, fictional stuntman Cliff Booth, faces off with Lee on the set of a movie. Lee, who was played by Mike Moh in the film, spouts off about his martial arts prowess, claiming he would badly defeat Muhammad Ali were they to fight. Booth takes offense to the statement. It results in a showdown between the two after Lee levels a challenge.
At first, Lee lands a jumping kick that knocks Booth down. But seemingly beset with superhuman fighting skills himself, Pitt’s character responds by throwing Lee into a car. The two engage in a stalemate of strikes on the feet before getting broken up, and Booth is fired from the set. Some found it entertaining, while many others found it outright disrespectful to Lee’s legacy. His daughter Shannon Lee has echoed that sentiment vehemently on social media.
Rogan Defends Bruce Lee’s Honor
A longtime martial arts practitioner himself, Rogan agrees with her. Speaking up on a recent episode of his “Joe Rogan Experience” podcast (transcribed via BJPENN.com), Rogan told Brendan Schaub why he disliked how Lee was pictured:
“That was fu**ed up. He was a dummy in the movie. The problem was in real life, there was no evidence that he was an egomaniac dummy. He was a very interesting guy. Very insightful.”
Lee brought his hybrid style of Jeet Kune Do to California during the film’s era. Because of that and man other reasons, he is highly respected as the father of modern mixed martial arts. But despite that fact, Lee was never tested in professional fighting. Some doubt his actual fighting ability. Rogan acknowledged that yet focused on the dynamic that Lee was nonetheless a very insightful authority on martial arts.
The movie, on the other hand, made him look far from intelligent. Therein lies the problem, according to Rogan:
“He was a philosopher and he’s brilliant. But when it comes to actual toughness, we don’t know. And you’ve heard that narrative before — that he’s not an actual tough guy.
“The problem was they made him look like a buffoon. There was no evidence that he was a buffoon…It’s a movie about a real person who has a real legacy and a bunch of people love him.”
No Evidence To Support Film
Lastly, Rogan argued there was simply too much proof that Lee was a highly intelligent thinker whose personality was twisted for the purposes of production. He spoke out against making Lee look like someone he was not:
“There was a lot of evidence that Bruce Lee was this brilliant, insightful guy and in that movie, they made a character of that. I didn’t like it.
“You’re making the guy looking like a fu**ing idiot when he wasn’t an idiot.”
Do you agree with Rogan’s view of Bruce Lee’s portrayal in Tarantino’s latest film?