China cancels release of ‘Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood’

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Though Quentin Tarantino‘s ninth movie Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood has dominated the North American box office since July, it’s still yet to be released in one of the world’s biggest markets: China.

The two-hour, 41-minute flick was scheduled to come out in the Communist country on Friday, Oct. 25. According to the Hollywood Reporter, however, the film’s release has been put on hold.

It’s currently unclear why the move was made, but it’s being speculated that the delay has something to do with Tarantino’s portrayal of Bruce Lee, the late martial arts master and actor.

Lee is the only character of Chinese descent in Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood, and is portrayed by Asian-American actor Mike Moh as “cocky” and “hot-headed,” which, according to Bruce’s daughter Shannon Lee, was “not how he was.”

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the younger Lee (50) — who has previously criticized Tarantino, 56, for his portrayal of the Enter the Dragon star — made a direct appeal to China’s National Film Administration, demanding that they force the Kill Bill director to alter or censor the onscreen portrayal of her father.

During an interview with the Wrap, Shannon claimed that watching the film was a “disheartening” experience for her.

“It was really uncomfortable to sit in the theatre and listen to people laugh at my father,” she said.

The scene to which she was referring involves a fight between her father and the fictional Hollywood stunt double Cliff Booth, played by Brad Pitt.

In the film, Bruce picks a fight with Booth after being made fun of on set. He loses the fight after only two rounds by being thrown violently into the side of a car.

“He comes across as an arrogant a–hole who was full of hot air and not someone who had to fight triple as hard as any of those people did to accomplish what was naturally given to so many others,” Shannon said.

She later suggested that Tarantino might have been trying to accurately portray how her father was stereotyped by the film industry in the 1960s, but added that “it doesn’t come across that way.” She said she believed “[Bruce] was directed to be a caricature.”

Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood was set to be Tarantino’s first proper cinematic release in China, according to NME.

Tony Simon

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