Game of Death

Game of Death

This movie is fucking unreal. There's a whole subgenre of Bruceploitation, but GAME OF DEATH is truly a new level of distasteful. Quick recap: Lee was filming a movie called GAME OF DEATH that was left incomplete when he died. Five years later, Golden Harvest and ENTER THE DRAGON director Robert Clouse crafted a new movie around that footage (side note: the initial film and completed film have different plots). So all told, Lee is in about 11 minutes of this disaster. GAME OF DEATH fills in the rest by having lookalikes with poorly disguised faces--through either fake facial hair or gaudy sunglasses or other cheap gimmicks like footage from Lee's other films or a fucking cardboard cutout taped to a mirror! And the plot that Clouse comes up with is super-lame and low-stakes: A martial arts actor is being shook down by a racketeering gang! He's shot in the face on set, survives, but fakes his death to go after them. (oh yeah they also use real footage from his funeral because why the fuck not.) It's just so cheap and lazy and leaves a bitter aftertaste because there's no attempt to honour Lee's intentions, they just use his corpse like it's WEEKEND AT BERNIE'S. There's also a weirdly incongruent second-rate Bond score by John Barry himself with a title song sung by Colleen Camp.

But that Lee footage.... maaaaaan, that's some killer stuff with him in that iconic yellow jumpsuit and sick sneakers. The fight with Abdul-Jabar is as good as anything he's done. I suppose it's worth sitting through the rest to see it, because on a whole GAME OF DEATH is a fascinating wreck of a picture.