Reviewed Aug 18, 2012
Jab Thenko’s review:
My review of 'Game of Death' fundamentally has one purpose; to respectfully dissuade prospective viewers from the thought of watching this disrespectful, ham-fisted and undignified stain on the short film legacy of Bruce Lee.
Of course, watch the film if you choose that is fine; try to convince me it is anything other than celluloid junk and I may just intercept that disagreeable impression with a stone cold strike of the type that felled Bob Wall in Enter the Dragon.
This film, which wasn’t actually completed until 1978, five years after Bruce Lee’s untimely death uses approximately just 12 minutes of the original footage shot by Lee in 1973, before Lee put the G.O.D project on hold to complete what was to become his final movie, Enter the Dragon.
The unused G.O.D footage shot by Lee was essentially useless to Golden Harvest, until it was employed into a new story. Raymond Chow however did not use Lee’s original screenplay and instead Robert Clouse redirected scenes of utter ineptitude and absurdity you wander how he managed to direct Enter the Dragon without it looking like a Fistful of Yen!
Bruce Lee’s original concept was simple but brilliant. The movie was to be set in Korea, his character Hai Tien would attempt to rescue his kidnapped sister and discover a secret artefact from the 5th floor of a Pagoda controlled by a criminal syndicate. Each level of the pagoda was guarded by an exponent of a different martial art. This premise gave Lee the ability to demonstrate his eclectic fighting philosophy of Jeet Kune Do.
J.K.D emphasised Lee’s real life preoccupation with a lean, deconstructed method of fighting, uniquely his own developed from his love of Wing Chun and created as a method of self defence and self development.
Lee was constantly attempting to free himself from the shackles of fear and doubt and believed mans ability to create something new and original was more important than to blindly follow traditional martial arts for tradition's sake.
During the original story, Lee’s fellow martial artists skilled also in traditional martial arts would fall one by one as the group made their way to the top floor where Lee would meet an exponent of a style that mirrors his own style.
Now to me that sounds like a great fucking action movie.
(This is NOT what the 1978 released version of game of death is about at all).
Instead this reworked abomination attempts to hack an idea that Billy Lo (The character assigned to Lee Posthumously) is a famous Asian movie star who fakes his own death, gets plastic surgery in order to .... oh it is just fucking awful. The parasites that cobbled this exploitative mess together had the (in)decency to include in this film Lee’s real life funeral, yeah that’s him in the open casket...dead, and even introduce a cut out of Lee’s face superimposed on the face of another actor. The story is an absolute kick in the balls to Lee and his legacy.
The charismatic Lee never considered himself to be a superstar and always preferred to be considered an actor, and a martial artist whose aim was to strive to improve the quality of Hong Kong movies and put into his movies elements of Chinese culture and most importantly to him, be able to express his personality, Chinese philosophy and Jeet Kune Do.
Ultimately Lee sought to express himself honestly through his work and in G.O.D was the lead actor, fight choreographer; it was to be his realisation of a Chinese movie made under his full directorial control based on his original screenplay. And he was coming back to it after finishing Enter the Dragon.
Guys this movie was a defining moment for the World’s biggest Asian movie star in 1973 I mean even his simple yellow and black jumpsuit became a cinematic icon. But Lee was struck down, the movie was forgotten about and then it was regurgitated by the parasites who had a vested interest in making just a little more off the back of Bruce Lee.
Fuck this film and fuck anyone who tries to say it has any merit. I threw my copies of this film away years ago.
There is a little light to be shone of this debacle....
Seek out John Little’s earnest documentary Bruce Lee: A Warrior’s Journey. It highlights the beauty of Lee’s original vision and includes the original footage in its entirety in the context it was intended. It gives you an insight into Lee’s character and attitude. It will make you realise who we lost in Bruce Lee.