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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Says ‘As soon as Upon a Time … in Hollywood’ Disrespects Bruce Lee

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Quentin Tarantino’s As soon as Upon a Time … in Hollywood has attracted its share of vitriol concerning the film’s remedy of Bruce Lee, however its fiercest critic is somebody who educated with Lee in actual life—Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The retired basketball titan asserts in his Hollywood Reporter column that Tarantino’s portrayal of Lee isn’t solely racist, but additionally disrespectful to the person and his legacy.

Within the movie, Lee seems in flashback—performed by Mike Moh—behind the scenes of The Inexperienced Hornet. He’s showboating, criticizing Muhammad Ali and selecting a combat with tuxedo-clad stuntman Cliff Sales space (Brad Pitt). Within the ensuing combat, the 2 are evenly matched till Cliff throws Lee right into a automotive, then the 2 are damaged aside earlier than they end one other spherical.

Abdul-Jabbar writes that the fictionalized portrayal corrupts our picture of the person as he actually was, as a substitute reminding him of a time when Asian-People solely performed one-dimensional characters on movie and in tv. “The John Wayne machismo angle of [Cliff], an growing old stuntman who defeats the boastful, uppity Chinese language man harks again to the very stereotypes Bruce was attempting to dismantle. In fact the blond, white beefcake American can beat your fancy Asian chopsocky dude as a result of that international crap doesn’t fly right here.”

Life Recommendation From Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Abdul-Jabbar’s relationship with Lee started when the basketball participant was finding out at UCLA and sought out Lee’s martial arts studio. There, he discovered Jeet Kune Do, Lee’s hybrid martial arts model. His philosophy was to keep away from combating until there was no different choice: “The artwork of combating with out combating,” he says in Enter the Dragon.

The 2 educated collectively and have been good pals for a number of years till Lee’s dying in 1973. Lee had even helped Abdul-Jabbar begin his appearing profession, casting him as a villain in Recreation of Loss of life, Lee’s remaining movie function. Their completely insane combat scene might be seen in full right here:

In his Hollywood Reporter article, Abdul-Jabbar credit Lee for his lengthy NBA profession: “He taught me the self-discipline and spirituality of martial arts, which was tremendously accountable for me with the ability to play competitively within the NBA for 20 years with only a few accidents.”

Abdul-Jabbar’s criticism of As soon as Upon a Time … in Hollywood joins a refrain of different dissenting voices, together with Lee’s personal daughter, Shannon. “It was actually uncomfortable to take a seat within the theater and hearken to individuals chortle at my father,” she mentioned in an interview with The Wrap.

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After preliminary pushback to the scene, Tarantino defended Lee’s portrayal, calling him “sort of an boastful man” in actual life. And to the critics who doubt that Cliff might beat up Lee, he mentioned, “When you ask me the query, ‘Who would win in a combat: Bruce Lee or Dracula?’ It’s the identical query. It’s a fictional character. If I say Cliff can beat Bruce Lee up, he’s a fictional character so he might beat Bruce Lee up.”

However Abdul-Jabbar writes a few man who wanted neither the problem of instigating fistfights, nor the validation of beating up loudmouth aggressors. “He felt no must show himself,” he writes. “He knew who he was and that the true combat wasn’t on the mat, it was on the display in creating alternatives for Asians to be seen as greater than grinning stereotypes.”

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