Tarantino: “If I Say Cliff Can Beat Bruce Lee Up…He Could.”

Tarantino: “If I Say Cliff Can Beat Bruce Lee Up…He Could.”

You knew this guy just couldn’t leave that alone, right?

Two weeks ago, Quentin Tarantino was supposed to celebrating his best opening weekend ever as Once Upon a Time in Hollywood surpassed $41 million in more than 3,600 theaters nationwide. Good times.

You may recall the polarizing scene in the movie where a fictitious Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) encounters a real (ish) Bruce Lee in a studio parking lot. Then, the former Green Beret turned Hollywood stuntman plows Bruce into a car door.

People were pissed (present company included slightly) and Tarantino has been silent. Until now.

You get all that?!

That was the problem from the very start. We have one very fake war hero who obviously knows how to handle himself in the event he was ever, you know, real. And that guy is about to scrap with one very non-fiction martial arts grandmaster who could beat the hell out of anyone he wanted.

Precisely. That’s Quentin’s argument.

“Could Cliff beat up Bruce Lee?

Brad would not be able to beat up Bruce Lee, but Cliff maybe could. If you ask me the question, ‘Who would win in a fight: Bruce Lee or Dracula?’ It’s the same question. It’s a fictional character.

If I say Cliff can beat Bruce Lee up, he’s a fictional character so he could beat Bruce Lee up. The reality of the situation is this: Cliff is a Green Beret. He has killed many men in WWII in hand to hand combat.”

Cliff is fake, so if the creator of said fake dude says he can wallop Bruce Lee, he can.

  • Can Thanos beat Bruce Lee? Yes.
  • Could Darkseid beat up Bruce Lee? Sure.
  • Could Superman…well, you get the idea.

Now, could some nerd named Bobby I met at the comic store last week beat up Bruce Lee? There aren’t enough steroids in Barry Bonds’ old baseball locker to make that a reality.

So What’s the Big Deal?


Nothing…if you ask movie fans. But, if you asked the millions of people who have researched, studied, and even lived with Bruce Lee, loads. That includes his only daughter Shannon who is known as the ambassador of Daddy’s legacy internationally.

After viewing the five minutes Mike Moh was on screen impersonating a rather hubristic martial arts master, Shannon liked to take some nunchaku and plant them sideways in Quentin’s Taran-taint.

“I can understand all the reasoning behind what is portrayed in the movie,” she said. “I understand that the two characters are antiheroes and this is sort of like a rage fantasy of what would happen… and they’re portraying a period of time that clearly had a lot of racism and exclusion.”

“I understand they want to make the Brad Pitt character this super bad-ass who could beat up Bruce Lee. But they didn’t need to treat him in the way that white Hollywood did when he was alive.

You see, Tarantino can get by with “I made him up. It’s my movie. So there.” If that’s where he stopped, sure. Of course, he didn’t.

Bruce Lee was kind of an arrogant guy. The way he was talking, I didn’t just make a lot of that up. I heard him say things like that to that effect. If people are saying, ‘Well he never said he could beat up Mohammad Ali,’ well yeah he did. Alright? Not only did he say that but his wife, Linda Lee, said that in her first biography I ever read. She absolutely said that.”

bruce lee a lifeWell, let’s ask the guy who literally wrote the book on Bruce Lee:

“I think it was John Saxon who asked Bruce if he could beat Ali, and Bruce laughed, “Have you seen the size of his fists? They are bigger than my head,” said Matthew Polly, author of Bruce Lee: A Life. “The story might be apocryphal, as it indicates a self-deprecating sense of humor, which was not Bruce’s forte,” Polly continued. “That’s why I didn’t include it in my book. But you can throw it with that caveat.”

Do you think a skosh of confidence and cockiness comes with creating your own martial art and believing you can stomp a mudhole and walk it dry in any person who looks at you cross ways?

Yes. There’s no way that won’t happen.

Was Bruce Lee so crazed with his own skill that he would talk that way to Cliff or anyone else? If you knew or even studied the man, no. Then again, we are dealing with someone no one knows. This is Cliff, cousin to the Chupacabra and nephew to the Yeti.

All we have to settle this is look back at the words of the one man we know was real. For me, I only have to go to my closet because this quote is on a shirt I wear proudly…and, if I’m honest, with a little bit of brash confidence too.

Can we call it a push, Quentin? 

bruce quote

Source for story/video: Variety


Written by:

437 Posts

I write for a living, among other things in the digital journalism and analytics universe. So I'm a little like a nerd unicorn. But no bronies. Move along.
View All Posts
Follow Me :

One thought on “Tarantino: “If I Say Cliff Can Beat Bruce Lee Up…He Could.”

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.