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Game of Death
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My hand is nigh-invincible! Bruce Lee in Game of Death.
Chinese: 死亡遊戲  
Year: 1978
Director: Robert Clouse, Bruce Lee (uncredited)
Producer: Raymond Chow
Cast: Bruce Lee, Kim Tai-Jung, Gig Young, Dean Jagger, Colleen Camp, Hugh O'Brien, Chuck Norris, Dan Inosanto, Mel Novak, Bob Wall, Roy Chiao, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Sammo Hung, Chung Fat, Mars, Fung Hak-On
The Skinny: Though Game of Death features Bruce Lee in his final onscreen appearance and even sports a rousing final act, the majority of the film can only really be deemed entertaining in a cheesy Mystery Science Theater 3000/Ed Wood kind of way.
Review by

After Way of the Dragon, Bruce Lee began filming the ending battle sequence for a film he planned to call Game of Death. But Hollywood came calling so Lee shut down production on the film to begin Robert Clouse's Enter the Dragon instead. After completing the American film, Lee had hoped to finish the postponed Game of Death, but sadly it was not to be - two weeks before Enter the Dragon's premiere, the "Little Dragon" abruptly died of a cerebral edema. Enter Raymond Chow, the famous Golden Harvest producer who owned the rights to the rare footage. Wanting to make a tribute to Lee (and make a little money in the process), Chow persuaded a reluctant Robert Clouse to reshoot the film with doubles and create an entirely different script from Lee's original idea. As good as the filmmakers' intentions may have been, in hindsight Game of Death comes off less like a fitting tribute to the master and more like a crass, shockingly amateurish disaster.

In the film, Bruce Lee (though it's mainly Korean actor Kim Tai-Jung) plays Billy Lo, a sensational martial artist on the verge of superstardom in the Hong Kong film industry. Billy's got it all: fame, money, and a pretty (pretty unbelievable, that is) pop singer girlfriend named Ann (Colleen Camp). But, all is not as peachy as it seems. Into the plot comes the Syndicate, a dastardly group of crusty old white men led by the improbably named Dr. Land (Dean Jagger). Apparently, the sinister Syndicate wants to exploit Billy and take advantage of his burgeoning film career. Or something like that.

To be honest, I wasn't really paying that much attention. Most of the movie is pretty much a blur: a bad Kareem Abdul Jabbar double makes a couple appearances, former Wyatt Earp star Hugh O'Brien tries to act menacing by carrying around a pimp cane, HK actors Roy Chiao and Sammo Hung come and go, and old footage from Lee's previous flicks is cut into the film with absolutely no regard for continuity. But the biggest eyesore is "Billy Lo" himself, supposed Bruce Lee look-alike Kim Tai-Jung. Huge sunglasses and exaggerated battle cries do not a hero make.

Truly, the only moments that stand out are during the climactic duel in a pagoda, which, as those who saw Bruce Lee: A Warrior's Journey know, is cut down tremendously in Game of Death. But still, though containing only a truncated performance, Game of Death is still the last real movie to showcase the charismatic presence of the legendary Bruce Lee. And for many, that's good enough. (Calvin McMillin 2002)

Notes: • Billy Lo's faked funeral is, in reality, the actual Hong Kong funeral of Bruce Lee.
• The most ridiculous scene in the movie occurs when Billy Lo is confronted by Hugh O'Brien's character. It's blatantly obvious that Lee's face in the mirror is a cardboard cutout. Watch the neck closely.
• The Chinese language version has many different scenes (none of which are noteworthy), including an extended ending in which Billy is arrested.
Availability: DVD (United States)
Region 1 NTSC
20th Century Fox
English Dubbed
Removable English Subtitles
*Also Available on Blu-ray Disc
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image courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Video Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen