The Game of Death (1972)
- For other uses, see The Game of Death (disambiguation)
The Game of Death (traditional Chinese: 《死亡的遊戲》; simplified Chinese: 《死亡的游戏》; Jyutping: Sei5 Mong4 Dik1 Jau4 Hei3; pinyin: Sǐwáng De Yóuxì) is an incomplete Hong Kong martial arts film, of 39 minutes, filmed in 1972, directed, written, produced by and starring Bruce Lee. Distributed in 2000 by two documentaries, Bruce Lee: A Warrior's Journey and Bruce Lee in G.O.D 死亡的遊戯 and in 2019 distributed from a short film Game of Death Redux.
- For quotes at the storyline of The Game of Death, see also the Bruce Lee's script notes on The Story (2000 short film)
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- Do you understand? This sword becomes a whip!
- You are my brother! I will let you do this first deed of merit. You go ahead. Wish you success
(5 rd Floor Guardian)
- His big advantage is that he gives no thought to life or death. And with no distracting thoughts, he is therefore free to concentrate on fighting against the attack from outside. [from dialogue cantonese (螳螂嘅最高優點，就係佢能將生死置諸度外，心無一念，全心全意去對付外來嘅侵犯。) with the English subtitles]
- With his great size, he is going to find it difficult to keep getting up each time I knock him down. [from dialogue cantonese (呢個巨人越係身形高大，當我每次打中佢，跌低時，佢龐大嘅身體就越捱唔起。) with the English subtitles]
- Look at him. Give him the fatigue bombing! [from dialogue cantonese (睇佢個樣，實行疲勞轟炸！) with the English subtitles]
- I'm so tired. No, no! Hai Tien, he must be much more tired than you. Calm down your soul. [from dialogue cantonese (我已經好攰喇。唔係，唔係！海天，佢比你更攰，定吓神。) with the English subtitles]
- 4rd Floor Guardian: As you gentleman know red means danger. Therefore, I advise to you people not to step into this warning arena. If you want to go an living, stop here. Go back downstairs. Life Is precious.
- Hai Tien: Do you speak any Enlgish?
- 3rd Floor Guardian: Of course I speak English.
- Hai Tien: I hope you don't mind if we move our man so we could have more room to groove.
- 3rd Floor Guardian: [indicates that It's okay] But... Have your men stay as far away from the stairway as possible.
- Hai Tien: [as Tien moves an unconscious Cheh out of the way Hai Tien prepares to fight with his bamboo whip] You know baby, this bamboo is longer, more flexible and very much alive, and if your flashy routine cannot keep up with the speed and elusiveness of this thing here, all I can say is you will be in deep trouble.
- 3rd Floor Guardian: That we will have to find out.
- Hai Tien: [during the fight Hai Tien gains the upper hand] I am telling you it is difficult to have a rehearsed routine to fit in with broken rhythm [they fight and Hai Tien hits yhe guardian again]
- Hai Tien: see, rehearsed routines, lack the flexibility to adapt.
Quotes about The Game of Death
- I am currently working on a script for my next film . I have not really decided the title yet, but what I want to show is the need to adapt one - self to changing circumstances . The inhability to adapt brings destruction . I already have the first scene in my mind . As the film opens , the audience sees a wide expanse of snow . Then the camera closes a group of trees while the sound of a strong wind fill the screen . There is a huge tree in the center of the screen and that's all covered with thick snow . Suddenly you hear a loud pop and a huge branch of the tree falls to the ground . you can not give in to the force of snow so it breaks . Then the camera moves to a willow tree that bends with the wind . Why adapts to the environment , the willow survives.
- (Bruce Lee), The Tao of Gung Fu. A Study in the Way of Chinese Martial Art and The Warrior Within: The Philosophies of Bruce Lee, to: page 55
- I'm in the midst of preparing my next movie, Enter the Dragon a coproduction between Concord and Warner Bros., plus another Concord production, The Game of Death, which is only halfway done.
- While we may never know how The Game of Death would have turned out had Bruce Lee lived we do know, with unimpeachable certainty, the vision Lee had for the film during the time that he was filming its finale. According to his 12-page storyline the film would begin on an airplane that hade departed from Hong Kong. The character that Bruce Lee was to play in the film was named Hai Tien a retired, undefeated martial arts champion. Accompanying him on the flight would be his sister and young brother. The family are preparing to take a tour of Southheast Asia. When en route an annoucement is made that there will be a one-hour stopover in Korea. The plane then touches down and taxis into the gate at South Korea's Kimpo Airport.
- [ Dialogue of The Story ]
- Later, in the training garden of the Boss,s home avery member of the team is training but Hai Tien who is still reticent and worried about the safety of his family.
- [ Dialogue of The Story:
- Hai Tien: I want you to remember me
- Hai Tien's brother: Why? I see you everyday
- Hai Tien: Good morning Fellas! ]
- Upon arriving at the compound the team must first fight their way through 10 guards all black belts in Karate. After dispatching the Karate men, the team heads for the pagoda. On man, the locksmith, opens the door to the temple. The martial artists enter the pagoda to do battle while the locksmith stands watch below. It was within the pagoda that the epic battles in The Game of Death were to take place as each floor of the pagoda was to be guarded by as killed martial arts stylist. On the first floor, one of the team would be killed. The second floor, The Floor of the Praying Mantis would see what was now the quartet lose another member of the team. Fortunately, the battle on the third floor of the pagoda and on the remaining floors as well, Bruce Lee captured on film.
- [ 1972 original footage: Game of Death Redux ]
- At the end of the film an exhausted Hai Tien Staggers down the steps from the pagoda and departs the village. Although Bruce Lee never finalized the details for the ending of the film it is evident from his scene breakdowns that the boss would be arrested. Hai Tien, his sister and brother would be reunited after returning of the Korean airport. The storyline perfectly justified the action that would be required in the film while the choreography of the fight sequences served to related Lee's message of personal liberation in the art of combat.
- In 1972, Bruce Lee began working on his second directorial project, Game of Death. The Plot involved Lee playing the role of Hai Tien, a retired martial arts champion who is confronted by a Korean crime syndicate that Kidnaps his sister and younger brother and force him to partecipate in a raid on a five-story pagoda located in South Korea.
- Guns are prohibited on the grounds, and the pagoda, known as the Temple of the leopard, is guarded by highly skilled martial artists who are protecting an unidentified object of value held on the top level of the tower. Hai Tien, along with four companions, must fight his way up the temple, facing a guardian of a different martial art style on each floor. Two of his companions are killed prior to the group reaching the third floor.
- Complete scenes were filmed for the final three floors of the pagoda: the Hall of the tiger, featuring Dan Inosanto as the Escrima master; the Hall of the Dragon, featuring Ji Han-Jae as the Hapkido expert; and the Hall of the Unknown - the final level, featuring Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the practitioner of an unorthodox and formiess style of combat.
- The footage begins in the Hall of the tiger, where a battle is already in progress with the remaining members of Hai Tien's team... The Game of Death 死亡的遊戲 Redux.
- Some assumed that it was a trailer narrator, but it’s really the American mercenary who befriends Bruce’s character prior to the mission. This role was going to be played by Bob Baker. The V.O. is Kincaid speaking to Hai Tien the night before they leave for the temple [...] exclusively for the trailer.
- Five years after his passing, excerpta from the film Lee had worked so feverishly on during the final months and hours of his Life, are edited into a film featuring Lee's title, The Game of Death. But the film bears no comparison to Lee's original multi-level vision. Without Lee's choreograghy notes, script-outline and motif the producers are uncertain what to do with the 100 minutes of footage they have in their possession. Moreover, they discovery that Lee was such a perfectionist that of the 100 minutes of footage they have in hand, two-thirds turn out to be outtakes and retakes, shot that Lee himself had discarded for sequences in the film that he felt were beneath his standard of quality. They deem only 11 minutes and 7 seconds of the footage ti be worthy of inclusion in their film. The rest, approximately 21 minutes worth, they discard. Intercutting actual footage of Lee into fight sequences involving lookalikes and even using cardboard cutouts of Lee's head, the end result Is viewed by many as an exploitive and grotesque joke played on the great artist's legacy. By now, even Lee's most zealous fans are beginning to believe that the original footage Is gone. And that It will never be possible to see the footage Lee shot in its entirety nor to ever learn what his original storyline for the film was. In the fall of 1994, during research conducted for a multi-volume book series based on Lee's surviving writings, Lee's original script and choreograghy writings for The Game of Death are recovered. The writings confirm what had long been suspected thath Lee had shot considerably more footage for The Game of Death than had been seen to date. Another unexpected surprise Is discovered among his choreography writings. His hand-written storyline, 12 pages in length and containing all scene breakdowns and select dialogue passages the original storyline stands in sharp contrast to the one presented in the film released under the same name. After the discovery of Lee's script notes a search to find the missing footage Is launched. It will last some six years, but then the miraculous happens. The original 35mm film footage Is located. After having been separated for over a quarter of a century Bruce Lee's original footage and script notes are finally reunited. Over the course of this film, you'll see this footage as Bruce Lee had intended for It to be shown, and you'll also come to understand the struggle he had to undergo in order to bring It to the big screen. And perhaps along the way, you'll come to know the real Bruce Lee the man behind the legend, a little better as well.
- In the battle of the third floor, Lee's character makes use of a green bamboo whip. The whip represents flexibility, an attribute which Lee felt a martial artist must possess if he was to be successful in combat. Since combat, like Life, Is not predictable, Lee held that one must possess a pliable adaptability in order to change with change. Lee has his charactery dressed in a one-piece yellow track suit to symbolize no affiliation with any known martial arts style.
- [Lee had chosen his real-life senior-most student, Taky Kimura to play the guardian of the second floor. According to Kimura, Lee wanted him to utilize praying mantis gung fu as well as some elements of wing chun, both arts that emphasize infighting use of hands predominately, with kicks limited to below the waist] I think It was in October of '71-'72, in that era. He called me and said he wanted me to be in that movie. I said, Look, Bruce, I've got two left front feet. You know it and I know it. There's probably 1,000 people in Hong Kong that can do It better. Just let me sit here and enjoy the fruits of your success. You know me, I don't need ti be in that. He said, No, I want you in it. I'm the techical director and the co-producer. Don't worry about it. So, I reluctantly, for fear that he'd kick my butt if I said no, at that point, I said okay. He'd already sent me an airline ticket. And really, I think at this point in his life. I think he had transcended the gimmicks that are usually in these movies. And I think that he had gotten to that plateau where you could just simply do the simple, you know, normal things and yet create that excitement within that simplicity.
- The hero of this movie The Game of Death learns everything in martial arts he also invented his own style he has purpose to the 5 level pagoda there is a martial arts master at each level 5 level older the goal of the hero is to reach the highest level and the martial arts of Chester at each level is higher than the other a life-death gate at each level and finally he beats the martial art master at the highest level and reaches the boundary of being invincible where the gods the pakoda it's the best martial art master such as karate, Taekwondo, praying mantis, HapKido wing turn and many others
- Bruce Lee — Hai Tien
- James Tien — (Tien)
- Chieh Yuan — (Yuan)
- Dan Inosanto — (3rd Floor Guardian)
- Ji Han-jae — (4rd Floor Guardian)
- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar — Mantis (5rd Floor Guardian)
- Hwang In-shik — (1rd Floor Guardian: only a 1972 short footage outdoors without dialogue. Candidate also Wah Yuen)
- Taky Kimura — (Candidate as 2rd Floor Guardian)
- Bob Baker — (Candidate as American Fighter)