FOOT FIST FRIDAYS: It’s East Vs West as Cliff Booth Takes on Bruce Lee in ONCE UPON A TIME IN… HOLLYWOOD!

By: The Cinema Drunkie

Welcome to FOOT FIST FRIDAYS! A weekly dose of fight action where the experts share their thoughts on some of the greatest scenes of fisticuffs in action cinema history!

This week, Action Flix resident The Cinema Drunkie takes on the controversial and highly entertaining fictional bout between Brad Pitt’s Cliff Booth and Mike Moh’s Bruce Lee From Once Upon a Time in…Hollywood. Everyone has an opinion about the film and this altercation in general and whether you like it or not there’s no denying that it’s entertaining.

So recently, I was finally able to sit down and watch master filmmaker Quentin Tarantino’s most recent epic, Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood. And like a majority of his work, I enjoyed it. He’s done better, but it was a real good time.

I especially loved Brad Pitt’s Oscar Winning portrayal of Stuntman Cliff Booth. Cliff, without a doubt, has become my favorite character Tarantino has ever created. Loyal, charming, and badass, Cliff Booth is easily the best thing in a film filled with great moments. And unsurprisingly, a lot of those moments contain Cliff.

But one particular moment is the subject of today’s edition of Foot Fist Friday. One of the more controversial moments in the film. The one that had everybody talking. No, not the wild as hell climax, although that could end up being the subject of a later edition. No… I’m of course talking about the fight scene… with Bruce Lee.
After scoffing at a claim that he could beat Muhammad Ali (aka Cassius Clay) in a fight, stuntman Cliff Booth finds himself engaging in a duel with the one and only Bruce Lee on the set of The Green Hornet…

Now, when the trailer was first released, and a brief snippet of the confrontation was shown, I was just as astonished as the rest of you at the very notion that Quentin would think we’d be ok with him having Brad Pitt last more than a second against Bruce in a fight, let alone hold his own against the man. I mean, the idea was absolutely ludicrous in the mind of action fans everywhere. Probably one of the reasons why it took me so long to see it.

And you guys know me: I’m a Bruce Lee fan to the core. Remember, not only did I relate to you all that the Bruce vs Robert Baker fight in The Chinese Connection was my all time favorite fight scene a few editions back, but the inaugural edition of this very segment was about Brandon Lee. So, as you can see, my love for the Lee men runs deep.

But, after seeing the movie, I’m ok with how his portrayal in the movie turned out. I guess what helped was I knew I was looking at something that was pure fantasy. This is the elseworlds version of Bruce, and is not meant to be taken seriously. Besides, even if you do see it as being mega disrespectful to Bruce, I suggest you watch Game of Death. Robert Clouse practically spits on Bruce’s grave with that one.

Another reason why I enjoyed the scene, other than Tarantino’s utterly impeccable dialogue, simply comes down to… the fight between them is excellent. Although very brief, the confrontation between Cliff & Bruce is a masterclass of action filmmaking by director Tarantino.

Just look at 4:32 to 4:42 in the clip provided below. That’s how you do a fight scene. The way they’re perfectly in frame. No shaky cam. The deliberate sequence of shots and cuts. The beautiful rhythm. The perfect flow of it all. Tarantino, with his expert crew of cinematographer Robert Richardson, editor Fred Raskin, fight choreographer Robert Alonzo and stunt coordinator Zoë Bell, as well as actors Brad Pitt & Mike Moh (who plays Bruce), have put forth some damn fine fight action, all in about a minute. Bravo.

And now, without further ado, I present to you, Cliff Booth vs Bruce Lee.

P.S. If you want to see just the fight by itself, skip to 3:45 in the clip. Otherwise, enjoy!

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