Kareem Abdul-Jabbar BLASTS Quentin Tarantino’s portrayal of Bruce Lee

NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar BLASTS Quentin Tarantino’s ‘sloppy and somewhat racist’ portrayal of Bruce Lee in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

More than 40 years after starring alongside Bruce Lee in his final film, Game of Death, NBA legend and actor Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is speaking out about Lee’s portrayal in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

The 72 year old wrote an editorial for The Hollywood Reporter, where he’s served as a columnist and contributing editor since February 2017. 

Abdul-Jabbar contends that filmmakers like Tarantino have a responsibility in regards to scenes featuring characters based on real people, because even those scenes in a fictional movie will, ‘live on in our shared cultural conscience as impressions of those real people.’

Speaking out: More than 40 years after starring alongside Bruce Lee in his final film, Game of Death, NBA legend and actor Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is speaking out about Lee’s portrayal in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

No standard: ‘Quentin Tarantino’s portrayal of Bruce Lee in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood does not live up to this standard,’ he continued

‘That’s why filmmakers have a responsibility when playing with people’s perceptions of admired historic people to maintain a basic truth about the content of their character,’ Abdul-Jabbar said.

‘Quentin Tarantino’s portrayal of Bruce Lee in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood does not live up to this standard,’ he continued. 

‘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,’ he added.

Right: ‘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,’ he added

Torn: Abdul-Jabbar added that his direction of Mike Moh playing Lee left him ‘torn’ because Tarantino is one of his favorite filmmakers

Abdul-Jabbar added that his direction of Mike Moh playing Lee left him ‘torn’ because Tarantino is one of his favorite filmmakers.

He said that he goes into each Tarantino movie as an ‘event,’ but still he found the Bruce Lee scenes, ‘disappointing, not so much on a factual basis, but as a lapse of cultural awareness.’ 

Abdul-Jabbar described Lee as his, ‘friend and teacher,’ adding he first met Lee when he was a student at UCLA and wanted to continue his ‘martial arts studies.’

Torn: Abdul-Jabbar added that his direction of Mike Moh playing Lee left him ‘torn’ because Tarantino is one of his favorite filmmakers

Fast friends: Abdul-Jabbar described Lee as his, ‘friend and teacher,’ adding he first met Lee when he was a student at UCLA and wanted to continue his ‘martial arts studies’

‘We quickly developed a friendship as well as a student-teacher relationship,’ Abdul-Jabbar added. 

‘He taught me the discipline and spirituality of martial arts, which was greatly responsible for me being able to play competitively in the NBA for 20 years with very few injuries,’ he continued.

He said that Lee often spoke ‘passionately’ about how, ‘frustrated he was with the stereotypical representation of Asians in film and TV.’ 

Passion: He said that Lee often spoke ‘passionately’ about how, ‘frustrated he was with the stereotypical representation of Asians in film and TV’

Abdul-Jabbar added that he may not have been so bothered by Lee’s scene if that wasn’t ‘the only significant scene’ but it was.

He added there were numerous times he was in public with Bruce where, ‘some random jerk’ would challenge Lee to a fight, but he would never take the bait.

‘He always politely declined and moved on. First rule of Bruce’s fight club was don’t fight — unless there is no other option. He felt no need to prove himself,’ he said.

‘He knew who he was and that the real fight wasn’t on the mat, it was on the screen in creating opportunities for Asians to be seen as more than grinning stereotypes. Unfortunately, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood prefers the good old ways,’ Abdul-Jabbar concluded.

 

 

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