Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Game of Death (1978) Review

Game of Death (1978) poster
Director: Robert Clouse
Stars: Bruce Lee (footage), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (footage), Robert Wall
Genre: Kung Fu, Bruceploitation

This is not a true Bruce Lee film. It's shameless Bruceploitation that used the footage of a dead Bruce Lee to make some money on his name. It's actually kind of disgusting.

Before I get to the story in the movie let me comment on the story behind the movie. Before Bruce Lee died he had been working on a new film called Game of Death and he had already shot some footage. It was to be the film that truly captured his philosophy and display his fighting as he would want it to be displayed. He had to put the project on hold though to go and make Enter the Dragon which, unfortunately, would prove to be his last film; dying before he could finish what would surely of had been his masterpiece.

So, with the Bruceploitation genre already up and running and such "Bruce Lee" films being released like The Legend of Bruce Lee or Bruce Lee Fights Back from the Grave or The Clones of Bruce Lee, it apparently occurred to someone that they could not only exploit Bruce's name but his unused footage from his uncompleted Game of Death also.

The result was a stitched together film with some scenes using footage from other Bruce Lee films, some scenes utilizing the unused Game of Death footage, some scenes using Bruce Lee stand-ins (who look nothing like Bruce), and some scenes of stand-ins actually using cardboard cut-outs of Bruce Lee's face. Oh, and they use actual footage from Bruce Lee's funeral as a plot device in here. The stitched together film which shamefully bares the name of Bruce Lee's unfinished film comes nowhere near matching Lee's vision and instead is just an awful film. 

The plot resembles nothing of Lee's original script and the film only makes use of about 11 minutes of the unused footage instead of the more than 30 that was available. The new story is about some mafia who harasses Billy Lo...who is supposed to be Bruce Lee since the film shows us Billy Lo working on Fist of Fury...so I dunno. It's a stupid fucking plot. It's a stupid fucking movie.

Bearded Bruce Lee stand-in in Game of Death

The only good thing about this film is the 11 minutes of actual Bruce Lee footage, which wasn't even used to the best of its potential. How can you take a film seriously when it actually tries to trick its audience into thinking some stand-in that looks nothing like Bruce Lee is actually Bruce Lee by use of false beards, sunglasses, and Bruce Lee cut-outs? It's silly, ridiculous, and quite insulting to audiences and to Bruce Lee's legacy. Also, I should add, they had to use a Kareem Abdul-Jabbar stand-in as well, being that he refused to partake in this "new" Game of Death.

Bruce Lee cardboard cut-out face in Game of Death

The non-Bruce Lee fighting is decent. It's nowhere near the level of Bruce Lee fighting and choreography but for what it is it's alright. The Robert Wall locker-room fight was pretty good. The motorcycle fight was kind of cool. Overall though it's just a pretty pathetic film. 

Robert Wall in Game of Death

There's really no necessity to watch this film. If you want to see the full 35 minutes of Lee's original footage for Game of Death check out the excellent documentary titled Bruce Lee: A Warrior's Journey. Also check out my review for the Unfinished Game of Death.

1.5/5 stars

Purchase Game of Death on Amazon: Blu-Ray - DVD
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