Friday, 31 December 2010
Tale of wax dummies and stock footage: THE GAME OF DEATH
Plot in one sentence:
A Brue Lee stand-in is fighting his way through a third-rate story towards the magnificent leftovers of what THE GAME OF DEATH was originally intended to be...
Bruce Lee would have kicked both producer Raymond Chow and writer/director Robert Clouse through a concrete wall had he witnessed the atrocity they released in 1979.
What doesn't work:
-Billy Lo's girlfriend is hateful;
-There's no real Bruce Lee until the last twenty minutes;
-There's too much plot and it's pretty dumb.
-certainly, Bruce Lee.
THE GAME OF DEATH is one of the best-known cut-and-paste films of all time. Released five years after Lee's death the film turned out to be a bastardized version of his original concept.
Cinematography is rather lavish in places, but it does not redeem the complete brucelessness of the first hour.
There is some mild fun to be had spotting bits and snippets of archive footage inserted here and there but overall THE GAME OF DEATH is a let-down.
THE GAME OF DEATH wouldn't have felt like such a shameless cash-in had it delivered action goods. Instead it's a cliched drama with some fighting thrown to pass it off as a martial arts epic.
The fights involving Bruce Lee's stand-in aren't all that bad(Bob Wall getting killed in a locker room being a highlight), but they're few and far between. Even the trashy GAME OF DEATH 2: TOWER OF DEATH had a lot more going for it in that respect.
John Barry's score is excellent and moving. But it doesn't belong here. It's not martial arts film music. It's big mainstream drama music and often feels inappropriate in this tasteless trash masquerading as Bruce Lee's final film.