Game of Death (1978) - Rotten Tomatoes

Game of Death (1978)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

In this martial arts tale, a talented kung-fu fighter finds himself entangled with a murderous syndicate that uses such performers for its own nefarious ends. Containing only about 20 minutes of actual Bruce Lee footage filmed in 1972, The Game of Death was not released until five years after the star's untimely death. Most of the movie features doubles filmed from behind, interspliced with close-ups of Lee's eyes or face. Fortunately, the smashing finale is classic Lee, as he takes on such villains as basketball star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.more
Rating: R (violence)
Genre: Art House & International, Action & Adventure
Directed By:
Written By: Jan Spears
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jul 3, 2001
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment

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Bruce Lee
as Billy Lo
Colleen Camp
as Ann Morris
Gig Young
as Jim Marshall
Dean Jagger
as Dr. Land
Hugh O'Brian
as Steiner
Robert Wall
as Carl Miller
Mel Novak
as Stick
Chuck Norris
as Fighter
Dan Inosanto
as Pasqual
Hung Kim Po
as Lo Chen
Roy Chaid
as Henry Lo
Roy Chaio
as Henry Lo
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News & Interviews for Game of Death

Critic Reviews for Game of Death

All Critics (8)

To cash in on footage from a film Lee did not finish before his death, producer Chow puts in a double and uses out-takes for this kung-fu mess.

Full Review… | April 15, 2008
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Bruce Lee's last movie contains his best fighting sequences.

December 5, 2005

Aside from a few clumsy insert shots, Bruce Lee doesn't even appear until the final 20 minutes!

Full Review… | November 18, 2005
DVD Clinic

A bizarre, entertaining, disjointing and strangely discomforting film that marked the end of Bruce Lee's career.

Full Review… | May 24, 2003

More classic kung-fu from the genre's legendary master.

September 6, 2002
Flipside Movie Emporium

...the standard of the choreography is excellent, and the final 20 minutes - which are almost all of Bruce fighting - are well worth holding out for.

Full Review… | September 26, 2001

Audience Reviews for Game of Death

'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.

Cassandra Maples

Super Reviewer


Filmed primarily after Lee's death using a stunt double in his place throughout the movie. Most fans, myself included, disregard this film because it is not really Lee, more of a studio trying to cash in on his image. The only scene worth watching is the final fight sequence, which is edited and is in its full state in a documentary, A Warrior's Journey. Its probably best not to watch this movie at all.

Lenny Muggsy

Super Reviewer

The climactic 20 minutes of Bruce Lee in action fighting Kareem Abdul-Jabber and Danny Inosanto are thrilling. But the rest of the film is not.

Dean McKenna

Super Reviewer

Game of Death Quotes

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– Submitted by Chris P (4 years ago)

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