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Film review — Game of Death

It was a fairy common practice in the 1970s (and before and after) to Frankenstein bits of different Asian action movies into something that would sell to the US grindhouse circuit. Sometimes this worked out in our favour; it’s arguable, for instance, that Shogun Assassin is a better, stronger movie than the two Lone Wolf and Cub flicks it’s butchered from. But most of the time the results were more like the American version of Godzilla, which replaced its integral post-war angst with a hamming Raymond Burr, or like Game of Death. Despite the highfalutin aspirations beyond 42nd Street, with its John Barry score and other Bond allusions, this is a hamfisted effort to remix footage from Bruce Lee’s unfinished final directorial effort into a film with a completely different plot, with poorly disguised doubles to replace the by then six-years deceased star. The rest of the cast is almost uniformly white and American, despite its ostensible setting in Hong Kong. The only positives are the fight scenes, thanks to choreography by Sammo Hung, and the performance of Colleen Camp who lifts a rote love-interest role with a remarkable degree of range that the project doesn’t really deserve. ★★½

Cross-posted from Letterboxd