Last week, we reported that Shannon Lee—daughter of legendary martial arts master/actor Bruce Lee—was offended by the way her father was depicted in Quentin Tarantino’s movie biz- throwback celebration Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood. In the film, Mike Moh’s Bruce Lee challenges Brad Pitt’s stuntman character Cliff Booth to a three-round fight, with Lee kicking Booth’s butt in the first round, Booth knocking him into a car in the second, and then the production crew on the set of Green Hornet running in to stop the fight before the third round (meaning there’s no definitive answer about who won). Shannon Lee’s reaction was that it made her father look like an “arrogant asshole” because he started the fight, which is something he never would’ve done in real life, and reducing Bruce Lee to a joke character was disappointingly similar to the way he was often written off by “white Hollywood” when he was alive.
Now, speaking with The Huffington Post, Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood stunt coordinator Robert Alonzo revealed that Tarantino’s original script had the fight scene go on for much longer, with Pitt’s character winning the third round and emerging as a “more clear-cut winner” after dropping Bruce Lee with a “cheap-shot move.” On set, though, it sounds like pretty much everyone had a problem with this. Alonzo says that Pitt in particular “expressed his concerns” about Bruce Lee losing the fight, and Alonzo—as a man who “has looked up to Bruce Lee as an icon”—thought it could’ve easily been “disheartening.”
In the end, after months of training that involved teaching Pitt and Moh how to avoid making a “concentration face” while fighting, the full fight was trimmed into the abbreviated version in the final film.