Once Upon A Time In Hollywood is still getting play in American theaters, but the international release of the Quentin Tarantino film will apparently be a bit smaller than anticipated.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the film won’t be shown in China. But unlike the NBA’s current business relationship
Rather, according to THR it’s the depiction of Bruce Lee in the film that’s upset people in China.
As is typical in China, no official explanation for the cancellation has been offered by Beijing regulators. Bona didn’t reply to text messages and emails, and Sony’s China office could not immediately be reached.
But the story swirling through the executive ranks of China’s film industry Friday was that the decision stemmed from Tarantino’s somewhat controversial portrayal of martial arts hero Bruce Lee, the only character of Chinese descent in the movie. Friends and family of the late Lee have blasted the director for the depiction, saying the real-life action star didn’t behave as he’s portrayed in the film.
In the film Lee, played by Mike Moh, is extremely cocky and essentially picks a fight with Brad Pitt’s stuntman character. He also claims to have “crippled” Muhammed Ali, but in the fight Lee is thrown into a car. The damage to the vehicle gets Pitt’s Cliff Booth fired from his job, and though there was no true “winner” to the fight it’s not a great look for Lee no matter how you look at it.
The film’s release sparked a bit of a controversy stateside when Lee’s daughter, Shannon Lee, was upset by the “arrogant” portrayal of Lee. Moh defended his portrayal but that didn’t satisfy Lee’s family. And as The Hollywood Reporter indicated on Friday it was Lee’s family who may have put pressure on those in China to ban the film.
According to sources close to Bona and China’s Film Bureau, Bruce Lee’s daughter, Shannon Lee, made a direct appeal to China’s National Film Administration, asking that it demand changes to her father’s portrayal.
If Lee’s family did impact what happened with the Chinese release, it would mean a significant box office hit for a film that was expected to be Tarantino’s first release in the Asian country.