Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
Theatrical Release Date: January 1, 1978
DVD Release Date: July 3, 2001
Run Time: 105 minutes
Production Company: Twentieth Century Fox
Package Type: Keep Case
Bruce originally intended Game of Death to be a more philosophical treatment of martial arts. He started working on the film in 1972, after completing Way of the Dragon. Reportedly he shot about 90 minutes of footage for the end of the film (of which 23 minutes can be used today). He never wrote a screenplay for it.
He envisioned a pagoda set on an island off the coast of Korea, with each level guarded by a different martial arts stylist. Three challengers - Bruce's character (Jeet Kune Do), Chieh Yuan (traditional Kung Fu) and James Tien - fight their way to the top of the pagoda and ultimate victory. The footage he shot only covers the upper 3 levels, guarded by Dan Inosanoto (Escrima), Chi Hon Tsoi (Hapkido) and Kareem Abdul Jabbar respectively. There is a sign at Dan Inosanto's floor which reads "Fu Deen" (Tiger Palace) and one at Chi Hon Tsoi's which reads "Lung Deen" (Dragon Palace).
Bruce Lee died after shooting only a few scenes of his ambitious Game of Death, but that didn't stop greedy producers from finishing and releasing "Lee's last film," even if he's doubled for most of it. Lee planned an ambitious expression of his fighting philosophy, and his story culminates in the rigorous challenge of the "Game of Death," in which combatants take on successively greater and greater masters as they fight their way to the top of a tower.
Only a few fight scenes were completed, and the released film is about a martial arts movie star who takes on a syndicate of drug dealers. Lee faces down the towering Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in an impressive battle, one of the only surviving scenes from Lee's original shoot, while outtakes from his battle with Chuck Norris in Return of the Dragon are used along with real-life footage from Lee's funeral.
The rest of the film is a mishmash of car chases and clumsily edited fights, complete with awkward inserts of Lee's face. His double remains hidden behind a pair of dark glasses or a motorcycle helmet throughout, and he abruptly changes into a yellow jumpsuit for no reason other than to match Lee's costume in the final scene.