Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is shaping up to be one of his most interesting projects, which is saying a lot considering his movies have involved revenge driven Jewish Nazi-killers and a slave-turned-bounty hunter. He describes the film as a Pulp Fiction-eque tale involving the Mason Family Murders, Hollywood actors and stuntmen (perhaps references to Stuntman Mike from Death Proof), and the changes the movie industry was going through in the late ’60s. Margot Robbie has been getting plenty of publicity as she released a photo of her as Sharon Tate, an actress who was victim to the Manson Family. But it’s been announced Mike Moh has joined the cast as none other than the legendary Bruce Lee.
Mike Moh’s previous credits are mostly TV roles including Inhumans, Street Fighter: Resurrection, and Empire. Not exactly a household name yet, but Tarantino knows talent when he sees it. Tarantino has referenced many of Bruce Lee’s films in his martial arts magnum opus Kill Bill, including the iconic yellow jumpsuit worn by The Bride from Lee’s last film Game of Death. Tarantino even stated that had Lee been alive, he would have written a part for him in Kill Bill.
This is not the first Lee has been portrayed in a movie. Jason Scott Lee took on the role in 1993’s Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story and most recently Philip Ng in 2016’s Birth of the Dragon. While serviceable performances, none of those actors have been able to accurately capture the IT Lee had on-screen. And the scripts and direction surrounding those performances were just as lukewarm, if not more so. This portrayal will be the “TV Years” of Lee when he was starring The Green Hornet and Batman before he was a megastar with Way of the Dragon and Enter the Dragon. It’s hard to say at this point just how much the Lee character will be involved in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Could be a brief cameo or a full-blown side character. And even if Tarantino decides to “re-write” history as he has in his past movies (how cool would it be to see Lee take out the Mason Family?), I have no doubt he and Moh will give Lee the respect and definitive performance he deserves.
Mike Moh’s training video only encourages this casting choice.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood in released July 26, 2019