Hello again empire! Today, we will actually be looking at two different versions of the film. The original version that was never completed, and the Warner Brothers shame version that was completed after Bruce's death. I'll say right now that the Original is the better one, and it doesn't even have a plot. Its just 45 straight minutes of the real Bruce Lee doing fight scenes(guess what your video for today is!). So, without further ado, lets get into it.
The Warner Bros. Plot
This follows the character Billy Lo, who is an actor and martial artist. He is constantly threatened by a crooked talent agency(at least thats what I think it is) to get him to sign with them. When he refuses, they beat him up in an alley(Its all good because this scene was filmed using a fake Bruce Lee) and threaten to kill his girlfriend. When he still refuses, they try to kill him on a movie set. They replace the prop gun with a real gun so he gets shot. Shockingly enough, that is exactly how Brandon Lee, Bruce's son, died. Except with Brandon it was accidental. So anyway, when Billy is in the hospital, he has the doctors tell everyone that he is dead. They then show footage from the funeral, but this is more shocking than the gun scene because they used real footage from Bruce Lee's ACTUAL FUNERAL! They even went as far as to show Bruce's real corpse in the casket. Do these people have no decency or shame? That was completely uncalled for. But anyway, he then puts on a disguise and starts taking out the gang one by one. Bob Wall shows up in this movie and has a fight with Billy in a locker room. So he fights his way to the bad guys' hideout, fights one master fighter on each floor, and takes out the boss. The End. Before we move on though, I'd like to point out that the first opponent in the iconic pagoda sequence (the guy who uses weapons) is none other than Dan Inosanto, Bruce's close friend and one of the men who took over teaching Jeet Kun Do (Bruce's custom martial art) after Bruce died. And he actually went up against the real Bruce in that scene. I saw that moment especially touching, and was a breath of fresh air compared to the rest of the movie. The final opponent is none other than the basketball player Kareem Abdul Jabar, another of Lee's students.
What I Got Out Of The Original Plot
What I gathered is that the title Game of Death was much more literal in this version. There is some kind of game where you fight to the death with opponents to gain access to the next floor and at the top there is a prize of sorts. So Bruce plays a guy who competes. He runs into two other competitors who are less skilled and are having a hard time with the first opponent. Bruce then helps out and they move along together. These two guys don't seem to like Bruce's character very much, and they seem to use him to cheat and get to the next floors early while he is fighting. Both are killed by Kareem on the top floor while Bruce is still fighting on the floor below. Bruce beats Kareem by finding his weakness(which doesn't appear in the Warner version): sunlight. He is blinded by it because he has weird snake eyes or something. After Kareem is defeated, Bruce refuses to go on and goes back down the stairs, despite some random guy outside yelling at him to continue. And that's it. That's all I could get from it.
This movie, and Bruce's other movie Enter the Dragon(That ones next)are the two most referenced kung-fu movies of all time. One great example of both is the episode of Spongebob called "Karate Island". It takes the martial arts island setting from Enter the Dragon and puts in a pagoda scene with Sandy dressing up in Lee's famous yellow jumpsuit. Speaking of the jumpsuit, it has become one of Bruce's trademark images. Most references to Bruce are through that outfit. It is worn by the main character of Kill Bill in the sword fight scene(I have no idea which one since I haven't seen the movie). In the UFC game that featured Lee as a playable character, his shorts are yellow with double black stripes running down the sides. The Warner version of the film spawned countless "Bruceploitation films" where they would make a kung fu movie with a look-alike and claim it was the real Bruce Lee, as well as sequels to Lees earlier films, a few of which starred Jackie Chan.
What I Thought Of Them
The original was great. Wouldn't change a thing. Its a good movie even if it stayed incomplete. But as for the Warner Brothers version, I found it very wrong and disrespectful to Bruce. Writing this, I realized that Billy Lo is just a lame Bruce Lee knockoff. I bet you're wondering "But it is Bruce Lee right?" Wrong. You see, the only scenes that the real Bruce Lee filmed were the fight scenes in the pagoda at the end. So we have to deal with a guy commonly refereed to as Bruce Lie. In some scenes they used footage from Lee's other movies. There is only ten minutes of real footage of Bruce in the whole film. Thats right, of the whole 45 minutes he had, only ten minutes were used. and they even repeated some of the shots. What the hell? Then the two worst offenses appeared within seconds of each other. The first was supposed to be a shot of him walking into his trailer and greeting the man inside. They simply put a shot from Enter the Dragon in there and drew a towel around his neck. Then, they have a close-up of his Face. For that shot they taped a cardboard cutout of Bruce's face to the actor's face. It was terrible.
I won't give a rating for the incomplete original version but I will give one to the Warner version. 6/10. Just flat-out disrespectful. Tomarrow I'll be reviewing my second favorite movie of all time Enter the Dragon, Bruce's best, most famous, and final film. After that Ill be reviewing the biography film Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story. After that, I still don't know. Its a surprise.For now though, I'm out. Be water my friends.