Game of Death 死亡遊戲 (1978)
Country: Hong Kong
Production company: Golden harvest
Bruce Lee, Gig Young, Dean Jagger, Hugh O’Brian, Colleen Camp, Bob Wall, Mel Novak, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Dan Inosanto, James Tien…
- The Game of Death
- Bruce Lee’s Game of Death
- Le jeu de la mort (France)
- Bruce Lee – Mein letzter Kampf (Germany)
- L’ultimo combattimento di Chen (Italy)
- Juego con la muerte (spain)
BEHIND THE SCENES
The production of Game of Death began in 1972 following Bruce Lee’s directorial debut in The Way of The Dragon. After filming several fight scenes, production stopped when he was offered the chance to star in Enter The Dragon. Filming was due to restart again but his sudden death in 1973 left the film uncompleted.
The original plot involved Bruce Lee playing the role of a retired champion martial artist who is confronted by the Korean underworld. They tell him about a pagoda that is under heavy guard by highly skilled martial artists. Guns are prohibited at the pagoda and it seems that they are protecting something held on the top level. Bruce and four other martial artists, then fight their way up a five-level pagoda and encounter a different challenge on each floor.
The footage Lee shot was left in the Golden Harvest studio vaults for five years before they finally it cobbled together for release. The movie was completed using three doubles to replace Bruce, Hollywood B-list actors, and Enter the Dragon director Robert Clouse taking the helm.
Bruce Lee’s student Dan Inosanto was the only cast member from the original 1972 production to return. Chuck Norris was offered the role of Steiner, but turned it down. Instead he is given a screen credit in the final version after footage from his epic fight scene against Bruce in The Way of the Dragon was used. He threatened legal action against Golden Harvest. Another of Bruce Lee’s students, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar , also refused to return and instead a double was used for his extra scenes.
The movie was successful at the box office but was not well received by fans. Criticism of the revised story and the incorporation of footage of Lee’s actual funeral was all done in bad taste. Most noticeable was the lack of actual new Bruce Lee footage. A large portion of the footage Bruce had shot was not included in the final 1978 version. Thankfully, years later, most of the footage Bruce Lee originally shot was found in the vaults of Golden Harvest and re-edited into a more complete form for the documentary, A Warriors Journey so that fans could get a glimpse at Bruce Lee’s vision for he had in mind for Game of Death.
After gaining international success as a martial arts movie star, Billy Lo (Bruce Lee) is approached by gangsters who want a piece of the action. When Billy refuses to be intimidated by henchman Steiner (Hugh O’Brian) and his gangs of thugs, the syndicate’s owner Dr. Land (Dean Jagger) orders his assassination to serve as an example to others.
Disguised as an extra, Land’s assassin Stick (Mel Novak) sneaks onto the set of Billy’s new film, and shoots Billy during filming. A fragment of the bullet passes through Billy’s face, leaving him alive but in need of plastic surgery which alters his facial features. Billy takes the opportunity to fake his death and disguise himself so that he can exact revenge against those who wronged him one at a time.
When the syndicate threatens and kidnaps his fiancee, Ann Morris (Colleen Camp), Billy is forced to come out of hiding and must fight each of Dr Land’s expert fighters to save her.