DirectorHarold B. Swartz, Pin Lin WriterLu-Yueh Lin (screenplay) Release date22 October 2000 (2000-10-22) (Incomplete DVD release) CastBruce Li (Lee Hon Hung), Wei Hung-Sheng (Ngai), Lung Fei (Manager K) GenresAction Film, Martial Arts Film, Thriller, Action/Adventure Similar moviesTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Blackhat, Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones, The Matrix Revolutions, The Matrix Reloaded, Kill Bill: Vol. 1 TaglineLong live the king!
trailer game of death ii
The Game of Death is an incomplete 1972 Hong Kong martial arts film directed, written, produced by and starring Bruce Lee, in his final film attempt. Lee died during the making of the film. Over 100 minutes of footage was shot prior to his death, some of which was later misplaced in the Golden Harvest archives. The remaining footage has been released with Lee's original Cantonese and English dialogue, with John Little dubbing Lee's Hai Tien character as part of the documentary entitled Bruce Lee: A Warrior's Journey. Most of the footage that was shot is from what was to be the centerpiece of the film.
During filming, Lee received an offer to star in Enter the Dragon, the first kung fu film to be produced by a Hollywood studio (Warner Bros.), and with a budget unprecedented for the genre ($850,000). Lee died of cerebral edema before the film's release. At the time of his death, he had already made plans to resume the filming of The Game of Death.
The original plot involves Lee playing the role of Hai Tien, a retired champion martial artist who is confronted by Korean underworld gangs. They tell him the story of a pagoda where guns are prohibited, and under heavy guard by highly skilled martial artists who are protecting something (which is not identified at all in any surviving material) held on its top level. The gang boss wants Hai to be a part of a group whose purpose is to retrieve said item. They would be the second group to try to do so as the first attempt with a previous group had failed. When Hai refuses, his younger sister and brother are kidnapped, forcing him to participate. Hai, as well as four other martial artists (two of which were played by James Tien and Chieh Yuan), then fight their way up a five-level pagoda, encountering a different challenge on each floor. The setting of the pagoda was at Beopjusa temple in Songnisan National Park in South Korea.
The pagoda, called Palsang-jon, is the only remaining wooden pagoda in South Korea. At the base of the pagoda they fight 10 people, all black belts in Karate. While inside the pagoda, they encounter a different opponent on each floor, each more challenging than the last. Although his allies try to help out, they are handily defeated, and Hai must face each of the martial artists in one-on-one combat. He defeats Filipino Eskrima master Dan Inosanto, Korean Hapkido master Ji Han-jae, and finally Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who fights with a free and fluid style mirroring Lee's Jeet Kune Do. Because Abdul-Jabbar's character has great size and strength in addition to a fighting style as potent as Lee's, he can only be defeated once Hai recognises that an unusually high sensitivity to light is his greatest weakness.
Immediately after defeating the giant guardian, Hai turns around and descends the staircase, heading out of the pagoda. Despite all the talk of something awaiting up top of the (now unguarded) flight of stairs, there is no mention of anyone going up to retrieve it. No surviving material explains how this will affect Hai or his captive siblings.
Although the pagoda was supposed to have five floors, complete scenes were only shot for three of the floors: the "Temple of the Tiger," where Lee faced Inosanto; the "Temple of the Dragon", where he fought Ji Han-jae; and the final floor, where he fought Abdul-Jabbar was the "Temple of the Unknown". Hapkido master Hwang In-Shik was slated to play the guardian of the first floor, a master of a kick-oriented style, while Bruce's long time student and good friend Taky Kimura was asked to play the guardian of the second floor, a stylist of praying mantis kung fu.
The goal of the film's plot was to showcase Lee's beliefs regarding the principles of martial arts. As each martial artist is defeated (including Lee's allies), the flaws in their fighting style are revealed. Some, like Dan Inosanto's character, rely too much on fixed patterns of offensive and defensive techniques, while others lack economy of motion. Lee defeats his opponents by having a fighting style that involves fluid movement, unpredictability, and an eclectic blend of techniques. His dialogue often includes comments on their weaknesses.
Bruce Lee: A Warrior's Journey
Several years later, Bruce Lee historian John Little released Bruce Lee: A Warrior's Journey, a documentary revealing the original footage and storyline of The Game of Death. The documentary also includes a fairly in-depth biography of Lee and leads into the filming of The Game of Death. Fans still believe there is more footage to be found. Originally meant to be a documentary in its own right, now it can be found on the second disc of the 2004 Special Edition DVD release of Enter the Dragon, along with the documentary Bruce Lee: Curse of the Dragon.
Bruce Lee in G.O.D.: Shibōteki Yūgi
In 2000, the Japanese film Bruce Lee in G.O.D 死亡的遊戯 was released on DVD. This film shows Lee's original vision of the film through the existing footage that was shot for the film before he died, interviews, and historical re-enactments of what went on behind the scenes. A "special edition" DVD was released in 2003.
Bruce Lee as "Hai Tien" (also called "the Yellow-Faced Tiger")
The 1978 version uses portions of the original footage married to an entirely new plot involving a new character, Billy Lo (盧比利), struggling against a racketeering "syndicate" after gaining international success as a martial arts movie star. When Billy refuses to be intimidated by syndicate henchman Steiner (Hugh O'Brian) and his gangs of thugs, syndicate owner Dr. Land (Dean Jagger) orders his assassination to serve as an example to others.
Disguised as a stuntman, 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, exacting revenge against those who wronged him one at a time. When the syndicate threatens and kidnaps his fiancée, Ann Morris (Colleen Camp), Billy is forced to come out of hiding to save her. In the revised film, Bruce Lee's fight scenes inside the pagoda are assumed to take place in the upper floors of the Red Pepper restaurant, where Dr. Land and his thugs have laid an ambush. In the end Billy survives the ambush, rescues Ann, and destroys each of the main mobsters one-by-one.
Bruce Lee as "Billy Lo" (archive footage from incomplete 1st version)
Fung Hak-on as Thug Wearing The Yellow Suit Fighting in Henry Lo's Opera Place (US version only)
The revised version of the film uses only 11 minutes and 7 seconds of the footage from the original The Game of Death, and for the vast majority of the film, the role of Billy Lo was shared by Yuen Biao and taekwondo master Kim Tai-jong and was voiced by Chris Kent. The plot of the film allowed Kim and Yuen to spend much of the film in disguises, usually involving false beards and large, dark sunglasses that obscured the fact that they bore little resemblance to Lee. Many scenes, including fight scenes, also included brief close-up bits of stock footage of the real Bruce Lee from his pre-Enter the Dragon films, often only lasting a second or two. These clips are easily recognisable due to the difference in film quality between the old and new footage. At one point in the movie, real footage of Lee's corpse in his open-topped casket is used to show the character Billy Lo faking his death. There is even a scene, taken place in Billy's dressing room, where a cut-out of Lee's face was taped to a mirror, covering the stand-in's own face.
Several actors associated with previous Lee movies were included in the re-shoot for the final 1978 film. For example, Robert Wall, a villain in both The Way of the Dragon and Enter the Dragon, plays a kickboxer named Carl Miller who must battle with Billy Lo. Sammo Hung, who appeared in Enter the Dragon, served as the fight coordinator for the re-shoot of Game of Death, and also appears in the scene as a ring opponent for Miller. To maintain continuity with the fight footage taken from the original film, Dan Inosanto (renamed Pasqual) and Ji Han-jae (whose character was unnamed and was not shown until near the end of the film) were given small parts as additional enforcers for the syndicate. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar refused to participate in the re-shoot, with another tall African-American stand-in (renamed Hakim) included instead. Although Chuck Norris is credited as starring in the film, his role is limited to clips from Way of the Dragon inserted into the film.
The film quality of the Clouse-directed footage was noticeably higher than that of Lee's earlier Hong Kong films, and John Barry provided an original soundtrack. The film also featured performances by experienced actors as well as up-and-coming stars, including two recipients of the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor (Dean Jagger and Gig Young) and several who have been honoured with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, including Bruce Lee, Dean Jagger, Chuck Norris, Hugh O'Brian, and Gig Young (in his final film).
For Chinese-speaking audiences, the film was dubbed into Cantonese and Mandarin, and had significant changes, such as the inclusion of a fight in a greenhouse with Casanova Wong and a different opening and closing credits sequence, featuring a new theme song, plus a couple of minor scenes. Unlike the English version, they use Lee's actual battle sounds. Several scenes were removed, also, including the fight in the opera house dressing room.
In the original Hong Kong version, the fight with Ji Han-jae is included (during the middle of the film though), whilst the ending did not show Billy Lo being arrested. Instead, both he and Ann share their good-byes to Jim as they appear to depart Hong Kong on a boat. The Singaporean version ended with Billy's arrest, and it did not feature the Ji Han-jae fight. This is the version commonly found in Chinese.
The Mandarin dubbed version of the film featured a different theme song to that of the Cantonese version. The theme song sounded familiar to the main theme of Way of the Dragon. This version also included the scene where Billy and Ann share their good-byes to Jim. The Cantonese dubbed version shows the commonly found scene where Billy is arrested by the police.
The film was successful at the Hong Kong box office, grossing HK$3,436,169, but was not well received. Criticism of the revised version included the inclusion of scenes that could be considered in bad taste, such as the incorporation of footage of Lee's actual funeral. Another scene, often pointed out by critics of the film, involved a shot of Kim looking at himself in the mirror, with an obvious cardboard cut-out of Lee's face pasted onto the mirror's surface.
The action directed by Sammo Hung for the scenes with the Bruce Lee lookalikes and the footage that Lee shot for the original footage with the final three fights helped to alleviate the movie's problems. Apart from the cheesy techniques used to disguise the fact that Lee was being played by stand-ins, the movie enjoyed respectable production values.
Bey Logan points out a few logic issues with the 1978 film. In order for the henchmen to remain low key, they should be wearing more casual clothes instead of the multicolored tracksuits seen at various parts of the film. But as a rationale, this explains why Lee wears the yellow tracksuit. Also in the fight between Lee and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the scene near the vase in Logan's opinion appears to look choppy along with the short fight with Hugh O'Brian. Perhaps the most important thing on the first half of the English version, Lee's fight sequence has been taken down to a more realistic level and unlike previous films, he is seen to be beaten down instead of making short work of these henchmen.
However, despite those major flaws, for the western audiences, the story narrative is easier to follow through compared to his earlier films like The Big Boss, Fist of Fury and Way of the Dragon. Compared to the Hong Kong films, it has western characters and the story structure is more straightforward than the Hong Kong structure which has action, but the story's humor and drama might not work for the people in the west like the US and the UK.
Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports the film as holding an overall 75% approval rating based on 8 reviews, of these six were fresh and two were rotten.
Other Game of Death films
After the death of Bruce Lee, several studios exploited the situation by making their own versions of Game of Death based on what they had learned of the story from production stills and magazine articles. Some of these films pre-dated Robert Clouse's official Game of Death (1978).
Goodbye Bruce Lee: His Last Game of Death (1975)
Enter the Game of Death (1978)
The True Game of Death (1979)
Game of Death II (Tower of Death) (1981)
Clouse's film had a sequel in 1981 kung fu action mystery film, Game of Death II, which used cut footage from Lee's Enter the Dragon film to have him make an appearance in the beginning of the film, only to be killed off midway, allowing his on-screen brother to take on the role of protagonist. Aside from the English dub giving the "Bruce Lee" character the name Billy Lo, this movie would seem to have no connection with Clouse's film, and it was directed by Ng See-yuen.
Wong Jing's film City Hunter also has a similar premise. Jackie Chan as Ryu Saeba takes on two tall black men and the film uses clips of Lee's fight scene against Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to get the better of the two.
The yellow-and-black one-piece tracksuit which Lee wore in the film has come to be seen as something of a trademark for the actor, and is paid homage to in numerous other media. In the Clouse-directed remake, the filmmakers rationalised its presence by including a scene where Billy Lo disguises himself as one of Dr. Land's motorcycle-riding thugs, who all wear striped jumpsuits.
In the warehouse scene, Billy Lo wears a pair of yellow Adidas shoes with black stripes and white shelltoes. Towards the end of the film, Billy wears a pair of yellow Onitsuka Tiger shoes, with black stripes. This was because the real Bruce Lee wore the latter when he was filming, and the double wore the former in the 1978 version to resemble his shoes.
Uma Thurman wears a similar suit in Kill Bill: Volume 1 when she travels to Japan to take on an underworld boss and assassin played by Lucy Liu. In homage to both the film and the remake, Thurman wears a two-piece suit and the Onitsuka Tiger sneakers as part of her motorcycle-riding gear, and keeps the suit on during her battle with Liu and her gang, the Crazy 88.
In the Jet Li film High Risk, Jacky Cheung plays an action film star who is losing his fighting ability due to his cowardice. When he regains his courage at the end of the film, he wears a copy of the yellow tracksuit. The role is generally felt to be a parody of Jackie Chan, but the references to Bruce Lee are also obvious.
The 1985 film The Last Dragon, produced by Motown founder Berry Gordy, centred around a Bruce Lee fan, (Taimak), in search of reaching martial arts enlightenment who instructed his students wearing the same tracksuit.
The 1984 arcade video gameKung-Fu Master was inspired by Game of Death. The player protagonist fights bosses at the end of each level before climbing the stairs to the next, more difficult stage in a "Devil's Temple" with five floors.
Marshall Law and Forrest Law, from the Tekken series of fighting games, resemble Bruce Lee with their move set, whoops and yells and wear a sleeveless version of the tracksuit.
In Dead or Alive 4, Jann Lee's third costume is none other than the tracksuit, and his ending movie includes him watching Bruce Lee films to help him practice Jeet Kune Do.
In the Playmore fighting game Rage of the Dragons, Mr. Jones (who already bears a striking resemblance to Kareem Abdul Jabbar) wears a suit very similar to the famous yellow jump suit.
The suit is present in the MMORPG Anarchy Online as a piece of equipment for powerful martial artist characters.
In Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow, one equippable item is the "kung fu suit", whose icon is a yellow tracksuit with black vertical stripes along the sides.
In Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4, the character Chie Satonaka's Persona is dressed in the same yellow jumpsuit, and fights with a combination of spears and Jeet Kun Do.
In Street Fighter IV, the character Rufus wears a yellow and black tracksuit. The suit matches his personality of having a great love for martial arts movies, leading to his style being adopted from imitating martial arts movies and mail order courses.
In the online game Dragon Fist 3: Age of the Warrior, one of the characters from martial arts films is Billy Lo (with Lee being animated out) from this film, dressed in the yellow-and-black jumpsuit, fighting with Jeet Kune Do, using a yellow nunchaku (which is not found in the Character Editor) as a weapon, and the one inch punch as a special move.
In most servers of the Dragonica online game, the gladiator class can summon a Bruce Lee-styled character named Bro Lee who wears the jumpsuit to perform some Kung Fu moves. The players can also buy the suit from the cash shop to equip on their characters.
In Animal Crossing: New Leaf, there are several pieces of clothing that resemble this iconic outfit. They are referred to as the "Dragon Suit".
In My Talking Tom at level 30, Tom can unlock the "Jumpsuit Fur".
In EA Sports UFC and EA Sports UFC 2 the unlockable Bruce Lee character wears yellow and black compression shorts modeled after the yellow track suit.
A short promotional video for the virtual band, Gorillaz, showed the fictional animated guitarist, Noodle, taking on a pack of thugs while dressed in the tracksuit and imitating Lee's fighting style. Noodle also wore the suit in the Game of Death short clip from Phase One: Celebrity Take Down.
The band, Sugar Ray, in their video for the single "When It's Over", included a segment in which one of the band members fantasizes about having a kung fu battle similar to the fight scene between Lee and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The band member wears Lee's tracksuit, his opponent wears a beard, clothes, and sunglasses similar to Abdul-Jabbar's, and the video duplicates the scene in which a seated Kareem kicks Lee in the chest, knocking him down and leaving a huge footprint on his chest.
Canadian hard rock duo Indian Handcrafts' song "Bruce Lee" uses the film as lyrical inspiration, while the music video features the two band members performing an over-the-top fight scene, with guitarist Daniel Brandon Allen wearing the signature yellow jumpsuit.
In the Iggy Azalea's song Black Widow featuring Rita Ora music video that is based on Kill Bill, Azelea wears a white & black tracksuit and Ora wears a black & red tracksuit. Both suits resemble Uma Thurman's version of the tracksuit.
In manga, anime, and other cartoons
In "Karate Island", a fourth-season episode of SpongeBob SquarePants (which is itself a take-off of Game of Death), Sandy Cheeks wears a yellow tracksuit similar to Bruce's.
In the Urusei Yatsura episode titled "The Mendo Family's Masquerade War", Ataru was wearing a yellow tracksuit with black stripes while trying to court Mendou's sister who is sporting nunchakus. Both Ataru's yellow tracksuit and the Mendou sister's nunchakus are a homage to Bruce Lee.
In the anime/manga Tenjho Tenge, there is a short appearance of a character named "Inosato Dan" who is the leader of the "Jun Fan Gung Fu club" (Jun Fan is Bruce Lee's Chinese name). He resembles Bruce Lee very much, and wears the jumpsuit. However, in the anime the colors of the jumpsuit are switched to a black suit with yellow stripes.
Duel No. 25 of the Yu-Gi-Oh! manga features some references to Bruce Lee. Yugi's fighting-game character of choice is a Bruce Lee clone called Bruce Ryu. His opponent, the villain of the chapter, wears the yellow jumpsuit and calls his fight with Jonouchi a "Game of Death". The subsequent "Death-T" arc then follows a similar structure to the movie with Yugi fighting his way up to the top stage where he has a one on one bout with Seto Kaiba.
The second episode of the anime series Cowboy Bebop, "Stray Dog Strut", further plays homage with the episode's main antagonist being named Abdul Hakim (after Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's character) and bearing a strikingly similar appearance.
The character Mr. Tanaka from Sonic X wears the suit in an episode.
The character Sasshi, from the anime Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi, also gets a uniform called the Game of Death suit, later imitating Lee in both appearance and mannerisms.
Another reference is found in Great Teacher Onizuka, where the main character, Onizuka Eikichi, wears the same suits when performing feats of strength like breaking a baseball bat with a kick in front of his class.
In episode 18 of the anime, Gin Tama, Kagura wears a suit similar to Bruce's suit in this movie.
The character, Mandy, from The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy wore a yellow jumpsuit in the episode "Modern Primitives / Giant Billy and Mandy All-Out Attack". The episode also had parodies from Akira (Mandy drives a bike similar to Kaneda's in the series), the "Godzilla" franchise (there are several giant monsters that parody monsters from the franchise including the name of the episode), and Kill Bill (a check off list plus a red screened close-up mimicking the bride).
A game sprite resembling an Asian man can be seen wearing Bruce Lee's yellow suit during the first and third season's of ReBoot.
A Gorillabite from the band Gorillaz is titled Game of Death. In the bite, Noodle, the guitarist, dons the yellow tracksuit to take on Russel.
The cover for the third volume of the American DVD release of the anime, PaniPoni Dash!, features the main character Rebecca Miyamoto wearing a track suit similar to Bruce Lee's. The subtitle for the DVD, "Class of Death", also pays homage to Game of Death.
In episode 20 of Hayate the Combat Butler, Hayate asks Maria if she knows "the art of assassination". She denies it, but Hayate does not believe her and Nagi imagines what Maria would look like wearing a yellow jumpsuit and holding nunchucks.
Episode 100 of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon depicts Master Splinter's former owner, Hamato Yoshi, wearing the yellow tracksuit.
In The Boondocks episode "Let's Nab Oprah", Oprah's bodyguard Bushido Brown is seen as a reference to Jim Kelly's character, Williams in Enter the Dragon. Brown also tells main character Huey Freeman "You come straight out of a comic book", a reference to Enter the Dragon. However, he wears a Karate gi version of the yellow and black tracksuit in the episode "Stinkmeaner 3: The Hateocracy".
When cosplaying the character Hong Kong from the anime series Hetalia Axis Powers, fans love to portray him wearing the yellow tracksuit.
In episode 11 of HeartCatch PreCure!, the guest characters for the episode, brothers Masato Sakai and Yoshito Sakai, both wear the yellow tracksuit. Masato Sakai styles himself as a Kung Fu master and his brother is his pupil.
In episode 18 of Xiaolin Showdown The character of Kimiko Tohomiko is seen wearing yellow track pants with a black stripe. The rest of her outfit is yellow with long black gloves.
In "Tofu-Town Showdown", an episode of the second season of the TV show Chowder, the character Schnitzel wore a yellow tracksuit and a similar Bruce Lee's haircut, then he turns into a Super Saiyan, making a parody of Dragon Ball.
In episode 23 of Kuromukuro, the character Shenmei Liu wore a yellow tracksuit and does a flying kick similar to Bruce Lee's when her friends were filming a movie.
In episode 8 of Akiba's Trip: The Animation, the character Arisa Ahokainen wore a yellow tracksuit during her training days with her master.
As one of Bruce Lee's perennially popular handful of films to receive wide exposure to western audiences, Game of Death has seen many reissues on every home video format. It is particularly widespread on DVD and Blu-ray and in 2016 was released on the latter in a new 4K restoration, scanned from the original negative.