NBA star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar criticizes Quentin Tarantino's depiction of Bruce Lee
The former NBA player and close friend of Bruce Lee calls the depiction a 'failure'
NBA all-timer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has commented about the situation. Abdul-Jabbar met Lee and became close with him when he was a UCLA student—even starring in the unfinished martial arts film, The Game of Death, together. In the op-ed, Abdul-Jabbar arugues that any depiction of a real-life person—however outrageous it is—leaves a lasting impression of them in our culture.
“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,” he wrote. “Quentin Tarantino’s portrayal of Bruce Lee in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood does not live up to this standard. 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.”
The NBA Hall-of-Famer does acknowledge, though, that Tarantino is one of his favorite filmmakers—it’s just that he was upset by the “one-dimensional” portrayal of Lee, whom he reminds us fought throughout his career to change stereotypical representations of Asians in pop culture.
Written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood has been receiving postive feedback from the worldwide audience.