In Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, a fictionalised version of the martial arts star, played by Mike Moh, is shown to be offended when Brad Pitt’s character, Cliff Both, mocks him for claiming he could beat Muhammad Ali in a fight.
It’s because of this that, in front of a crowd of people, Lee challenges Cliff to a fight, following which he is humiliated after Cliff beats him by throwing him into a car door.
At the time, Lee’s daughter, Shannon, criticised Tarantino for the “disrespectful” depiction, stating in The Hollywood Reporter: “I’m tired of white men in Hollywood mistaking his confidence, passion, and skill for hubris and therefore finding it necessary to marginalise him and his contributions.”
She added: “I’m tired of white men in Hollywood finding it too challenging to believe that Bruce Lee might have really been good at what he did and maybe even knew how to do it better than them.”
While acknowledging Shannon’s upset over the scene, Tarantino defended the way he wrote the character of Lee, stating on Joe Rogan’s podcast: “The stuntmen hated Bruce on The Green Hornet. It’s in Matthew Polly’s book. Bruce had nothing but disrespect for stuntmen.”
Yen, who appears in John Wick: Chapter 4, was asked about the matter during an interview this week.
He told Variety: “Everybody is entitled to their opinions. Quentin Tarantino is a very renowned filmmaker, and he’s entitled to his status – and I’m entitled to state my own view.
“Obviously, he was making fun of Bruce. It was cartoonish.”
Tarantino’s next film, which is rumoured to be his last before he retires from directing, is expected to be announced as The Movie Critic, a 1970s-set drama inspired by write Pauline Kael.
The filmmaker, whose credits include Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill, turned 60 earlier this month.
John Wick: Chapter 4 is in cinemas now.