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Game of Death (1978)

R | | Action, Crime, Drama | 8 June 1979 (USA)
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2:22 | Clip
A martial arts movie star must fake his death to find the people who are trying to kill him.

Directors:

Robert Clouse, Bruce Lee (uncredited)

Writer:

Robert Clouse (as Jan Spears)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Bruce Lee ... Billy Lo / Hai Tien (original 1972 footage) (archive footage)
Gig Young ... Jim Marshall
Dean Jagger ... Dr. Land
Hugh O'Brian ... Steiner
Colleen Camp ... Ann Morris
Robert Wall ... Carl Miller
Mel Novak ... Stick
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar ... Hakim / Mantis (original 1972 footage) (archive footage)
Chuck Norris ... Fighter (archive footage)
Dan Inosanto Dan Inosanto ... Pasqual / Third Floor Guardian (original 1972 footage) (as Danny Inosanto)
Billy McGill Billy McGill ... John
Sammo Kam-Bo Hung ... Lo Chen (as Hung Kim Po)
Roy Chiao ... Henry Lo
Tony Chiu-Wai Leung ... David (as Tony Leung)
Jim James Jim James ... Surgeon
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Storyline

In this movie, Bruce Lee is a very famous martial-arts master who stars in many films. After an unsuccessful murder attempt against him, everyone thinks his is dead, but he's just hiding, preparing his revenge... Written by Chris Makrozahopoulos <makzax@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Bruce Lee challenges the underworld to a Game of Death.


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Hong Kong | USA

Language:

English | Mandarin | Cantonese

Release Date:

8 June 1979 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Game of Death See more »

Filming Locations:

Hong Kong, China See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$850,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (original premiere) | (current existing footage) | (2000 incomplete) | (2000 incomplete) | (original cut) (1972)

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Robert Wall had also been slated to appear in the early 1970s version, as intended by Bruce Lee. See more »

Goofs

After the mansion fight scene. Stick says, "There was something there I recognized." Yet he clearly wasn't there when the fight happened. If he was there then why didn't he help him? See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Director: Cut! Okay, that's a print. That was great, Billy! Okay everybody...
[stage light collapses, crew gasps]
See more »

Alternate Versions

An unofficial DVD release circling the Internet entitled "Game of Death: Integral" features a 127 min cut of the film featuring:
  • A large majority of Bruce Lee's original footage not used in the official release. This is most notable in the final three fights as there is now dialog between Billy Lo and Pasqual as well as with Hakim. The final three fights added up to only 10 minutes in the 1978 release, but the combined length of the fights in this cut is 25 minutes.
  • The greenhouse fight in the Hong Kong version is also in this cut along with an extended scene before the fight in which Billy Lo is training on his outdoor balcony as he hears banging noises from the other room. This is actually footage from Meng Long Guojiang with new sound effects added. Also, when Billy comes back to his apartment after the fight, he finds a note reading "Have you two made out your wills?" along with a phone call from Dr. Land in which all he says is "You bastard!" with a follow up villainous laugh.
  • The opening theme is replaced with an updated version of the Game of Death theme originally created for the Japanese film Bruce Lee in G.O.D.
  • The infamous "cardboard cutout head" shot shown in all other versions has been replaced with a close up shot of Bruce Lee from Jing Wu Men.
  • The even more infamous shot of the real corpse of Bruce Lee from his actual funeral has been replaced with a horizontally flipped shot of the outside of the funeral parlor with all of the fans standing outside.
  • All of the fake Bruce Lee yells have been replaced with real yells from stock audio.
  • The film's ending is an extension of the Hong Kong ending in which Billy Lo is arrested. However, the scene inter-cuts with Billy Lo (from the original Bruce Lee footage) walking back down the stairways of the Red Pepper Restaurant complex ending with him yelling out to the police in Cantonese "Help me!" One officer looks up and replies "Hurry down!" The scene ends with Billy Lo being taken away by the police, then fading to a tracking shot revealing the yellow and black tracksuit laying over top of a chair in an editing room and a narrator reading from Lee's Tao of Jeet Kune Do discussing "The Void".
  • The film also ends with a large number of bloopers and outtakes from Bruce Lee's original Game of Death footage.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Bruce Lee, the Legend (1984) See more »

Soundtracks

Will This Be the Song I'll Be Singing Tomorrow?
Music and Lyrics by John Barry
Sung By Colleen Camp
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
A total hack job, but still quite entertaining
13 July 2007 | by mjscarfaceSee all my reviews

'Game of Death' is the equivalent of having your dog swallow a gold ring - you've got to sift through the cr*p to find the polished stuff.

Completely different to Bruce's original vision, the 1978 version is hugely controversial. To some, it's a shameless cash-in and insult, to others it's a curiosity. To me personally, it's a guilty pleasure. Obviously, with such limited footage of Bruce Lee to use, the film was always going to suffer. Not only that, but how do you incorporate the footage into a film and give it context? The stand-in's that are used to fill the time leading up to the Lee footage are never going to fool anyone. Even as a kid, I could tell it someone else. The techniques used to have Bruce Lee on screen range from awful (superimposed heads) to tasteless (his real funeral) to fairly good (quick cuts from old footage). The disguises that Billy Lo and Bruce's doubles wear throughout the film are hokey but nothing that we haven't seen in Lee's films before (Fist of Fury), so that didn't bother me too much.

Despite some awful dubbing and a poor script, 'Game of Death' is still watchable for it's action. Fight choreographer Sammo Hung makes the non-Lee fight scenes entertaining even if the doubles don't match Bruce Lee's speed or technique. However, they do capture some traits of Lee's fights including the slow motion finishing move. Also, the film's budget allows for a number of locations ensuring that Billy's quest for revenge keeps moving. In this regard, the Hollywood frills that are added give the film a degree of watchability, especially the classy score which appears throughout and heightens the final scenes.

But of course, the main point of watching 'Game of Death' is to see Bruce in action. Although criticised for cutting down the "pagoda sequence", I think it still contains enough to satisfy. You have to remember that this original footage included two companions of Lee's who don't feature in the 1978 film, meaning a lot had to be left out. The nunchuk duel is unique while the fight with Kareem Abdul Jabbar is bizarre but thrilling.

There are some moments of bad taste, but on the whole the film is a cheesy and quite fun attempt to build up to the final 20 minutes. Whether you think this was a cash-in or a tribute, you still need to see it in order to understand the 'Game of Death' phenomenon.


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