Game of Death

Game of Death

Game of Death (1978)

Billy Lo is a champion martial artist and movie star who fakes his own death to escape the crime syndicate that wants to control him.  Then he’s able to stalk them to exact deadly revenge.

This film is an examination of “what could have been”.  It’s helpful to have a little history to understand how this movie got so awful.

Bruce Lee began working on the concept for this film and shot a couple of the fight scenes before “Enter the Dragon”.  Those were the good parts of this movie.

In 1973, Bruce Lee died.  Five years later, someone decided to make this movie.  You can see where that might pose a problem.

Bruce Lee’s filmed scenes built to a great finale, but they needed another hour or more to get there.  The solution?  Find someone who looks sort of like Bruce Lee (assuming you’d never really seen Bruce Lee), give him giant sunglasses and hope nobody notices.  Add some old footage of Bruce Lee from other movies, have your character get shot in the face (requiring plastic surgery to alter his appearance) and have him use bad disguises from time to time.

The result somehow manages to be even worse than one might expect.  Bruce Lee’s vision of a deadly trial in which he must battle his way through seven floors of an ancient pagoda filled with masters of different martial arts turns into the most ridiculously elaborate Chinese restaurant ever.  As real and fake Bruce Lee footage is used, things like the background in certain fights changes along the way.  In a particularly jarring scene, someone had the laughably brilliant idea of sticking a picture of Bruce Lee’s face onto a mirror.  In the film’s most egregious act, footage from Bruce Lee’s funeral is used when the character fakes his own death.

In a creepy twist, Bruce Lee’s son Brandon would die years later he same way that Billy Lo faked his death in this movie.  The final victim of this awful, awful movie’s legacy.  The movie gets a couple of stars simply because it has a “train wreck” feel that makes it hard to look away and not feel at least a little amused.

Stars: 2.5/5



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