Quentin Tarantino has defended the portrayal of Bruce Lee in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood by claiming the depiction is based on the action star's own words.

In Tarantino's latest movie, Mike Moh portrays the martial arts legend, who died in 1973 aged 32, as a cocky actor who challenges Brad Pitt's stuntman character Cliff Booth to a physical fight, only to be beaten down and thrown into a stationary car.

The portrayal has been criticised by media outlets as well as Lee's daughter Shannon, and the Pulp Fiction filmmaker has now defended his depiction at a press junket in Moscow, Russia by saying, "Bruce Lee was kind of an arrogant guy."

He continued to explain that the portrayal was based on biographical research.

"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," he explained, according to Variety. "If people are saying, 'Well he never said he could beat up Muhammad Ali,' well yeah, he did. Not only did he say that, but his wife, Linda Lee, said that in her first biography I ever read. She absolutely said that."

Shannon criticised the way her father was "marginalised" in the movie in the same way he had been in Hollywood, and Bruce's protege Dan Inosanto has taken issue with the scene, saying his mentor would never have behaved so arrogantly.

"He was never, in my opinion, cocky," Dan told Variety. "Maybe he was cocky in as far as martial arts because he was very sure of himself. He was worlds ahead of everyone else. But on a set, he's not gonna show off. Bruce Lee would have never said anything derogatory about Muhammad Ali because he worshipped the ground Muhammad Ali walked on."

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