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. The trailer was in 1973 from documentary Bruce Lee, the man and the legend. In 1978 was released Game of Death and other Game of Death films. The 1978 version uses portions of the original footage married to an entirely new plot. The revised version of the film uses only 11 minutes and 7 seconds of the footage from the original The Game of Death, but after 2000 the original version, with the original cast, was distributed in films and documentaries from various parts of the world. 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 after also others documentaries (The Final Game of Death ...) and films (Game of Death Redux ...).
- For quotes at the storyline of The Game of Death, and prequel and sequel of 1972 original footage, see also the Bruce Lee's script notes on The Story (2001 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]
- Ji Han-jae (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?
- Dan Inosanto (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.
- Dan Inosanto (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.
- Dan Inosanto (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.
- The movie would open with a shot of a reed bending in the wind; this from many statements Bruce made at the time. Then on to a plane just landing in Korea. Bruce is aboard, as Hai Tien, a retired martial arts champion, known as the “Yellow-Faced Tiger” in the West. With Hai Tien are his sister and very young brother. A co-traveler recognizes Hai and asks him about his tournament days. Here we get a promising mention from Bruce of Hai Tien’s “blank face” as he remembers his days as a martial arts champion, fighting in a crazed manner in the ring.
- During the fight with Kareem’s character, Bruce wrote a voiceover for himself that begins: “The advantage of Mantis is that he doesn’t fear death.” [...] the fighters practice in the yard. Hai Tien’s sister comes out and tearfully warns him about someone called Mantis, most likely referring to Kareem’s character. Hai tells her to watch out for the kid, should anything happen to him. Then Hai tells the kid to be careful, requesting that the kid remember his face. “Why should I?” asks the kid. “I see you every day.” That night after a group dinner, the American fighter takes Hai Tien aside and tells him about “The Game of Death.” Bruce leaves this part vague
- The next morning the fighters gather onto a touring bus, ready to go to the pagoda. Finally Hai Tien arrives, casually strolling onto the bus: “Morning, fellas.” They arrive at the pagoda, and here Bruce finishes his outline by merely writing: “The big fight. An arrest is made. The airport. The end.” The big fight obviously refers to the pagoda raid. I’m assuming the crime lord gets arrested, though Bruce doesn’t detail how this comes about
- Bruce illustrated the pagoda, describing who was on each floor. The ground floor was to be guarded by a group of kung-fu fighters
- Little had Bruce’s dialog notes for Bruce Lee: A Warrior's Journey [...] however Little [...] didn’t have dialog notes for one of Bruce’s lines, Little chose to leave the audio portion silent, with a “dialog missing” legend appearing on-screen [...] Bruce seems to say is, “Do you understand? This sword becomes a whip,” [...] Little used Jabbar and Ji Han Jae to dub their own voices [...] Bruce Lee: A Warrior's Journey features the dialog Bruce actually wrote for the movie [...] both English and Cantonese.
- Nora signed on for The Game of Death shortly before Bruce stopped filming. No one knows what part she would’ve played [...] Most likely she would’ve played Bruce’s sister, as Bruce’s script outline, shown in Little’s “Bruce Lee: A Warrior’s Journey” book, states that Bruce was to play Hai Tien, a retired martial arts champion who travels to Korea with his sister and little brother.
- The picture quality is phenomenal [...] is presented in PAL [...] Dan Inosanto, however, does a fine job dubbing his own voice [...] of Kareem's normal eyes; then we get a quick close-up and his eyes become like those of a lizard's.[...] And the longer scenes [...] make the fights seem like they're occurring in real time.
- Bruce’s tracksuit is orange-yellow in this movie because Clouse darkened the film print, thus resulting in a change in its color from bright yellow to orange. Clouse darkened the film because in his version of Game of Death, Bruce fights Kareem at night, whereas in Bruce’s version of the movie, the pagoda battle is during the day.
- Just an all-around good, old-school kung fu flick, Tower of Death carries on the Game of Death concept by having Kim Tai-chung infiltrate an underground tower, each level housing a different guardian. Fast-paced action and quality direction and choreography make this one of the best Bruceploitation flicks of all.
- In 1975, before Clouse’s Game of Death or any of the Bruceploitation Game of Death movies came out, a book titled “Game of Death” was published in Japan. It told the story of a former martial arts champion whose sister and brother were kidnapped, and who was blackmailed into raiding a martial artist-filled pagoda to retrieve a priceless artifact. This book claimed to be based on Bruce’s original story, and John Little’s discovery of Bruce’s outline, twenty years later, pretty much confirms this. So how did the Japanese publishers know Bruce’s story? They even got minor details correct, like Kareem having lizard eyes. Bruce used a Japanese cameraman, Tadashi Nishimoto, for the Game of Death footage. Could he have had anything to do with the leaking of Bruce’s story to the book’s publishers?
- 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.
- [ Dialogues 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 (Hak-Kyu Kim): I want you to remember me
- Hai Tien's brother: Why? I see you everyday
- (The day after)
- Hai Tien (Hak-Kyu Kim): 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]
- 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.
- This Is The Temple of the Leopard. It Is located there hours from here. This Temple contains one of our national treasures - It's irreplaceable and worth many millions of dollars to the Korean government. Your job will be to get it for me. As no guns are allowed here, the temple is guarded by trained fighters - martial artist. The temple has five floors - and we believe that the treasure Is on the top floor. The martial artists guard each level of the temple. I have acquired footage of some of them to let you know what you'll be up against. This man's specialty Is Escrima - a Filipino stick fighting art. He Is very dangerous and, I'm told, guards the third level of the pagoda the Hall of the Tiger. He has also been known to be an exponent of the nunchaku - a weapon I'm sure most of you gentlemen are familiar with. This man is a Hapkido master, 7th degree. He guards the fourth level. His skill Is axtraordinary. It may take all of you to subdue him. The first floor will be protected by this man. As you can see, his kicks are devastatingly powerfull and incredibly fast. The entranceway will be blocked by karatemen. But you should be able to get past them. The real talent Is within the pagoda. If the door to the temple is locked Is locked - which It has been since our last attemp to get the treasure - our locksmith here should be able to pick the lock and let you in. Once inside the temple, I don't really know what you will be facing. There was a prior group that attempted to make It to the before you. Only one man from that group, Mr. Huang, survived. Seeing the members of his team killed by whomever guards that last level caused him considerable mental stress. He has since been committed to a local asylum. All he could tell us was Unbelievable agility and power. We don't know who guards the upper level, but whomever he is - he is extremely dangerous and skillful. Mr. Huang was a formidable martial artist in his own right - a very effective kicker - one of Hai Tien's students, I believe. I'm hoping that where the student fails, the master will succeed. Hai Tien and Mr. Tien will be in charge of the operation. That's It, gentlemen.
- 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.
- American Fighter: Legend has that man's greatest beard dwells and temple. The Game of Death is as old as time itself ... many attempt to challenge you survived. [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 (In The Story the character was also Hak-kyu Kim)
- James Tien — (In The Story the character was Byung-joo Kim)
- Chieh Yuan — (In The Story the character was Sung-woo Park)
- 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. Candidate also Bob Wall and George Lazenby. In The Story the character was Bill Katz)
- Nora Miao — (Candidate as Hai Tien's sister. In The Story the character was Hee-soo Hwang)
- Bruce Lee in G.O.D: Shibōteki Yūgi quotes at the Internet Movie Database
- Bruce Lee: A Warrior's Journey quotes at the Internet Movie Database and book quotes at the McGraw-Hill. ISBN 0-8092-9722-1
- The Story quotes at the Internet Movie Database
- Game of Death Redux quotes at the Internet Movie Database (on Game of Death)
- Game Over! quotes at the Cityonfire