Game of Death (1978) Poster


Alternate Versions

New Zealand theatrical and videotape versions were originally cut to remove the entire nunchaku battle between Bruce Lee and Dan Inosanto, although the censors later allowed this sequence to appear intact in the documentaries The Curse of the Dragon (1993) and Bruce Lee: A Warrior's Journey (2000). In 2005 the cut was also waived for the Region 4 DVD release of "Game of Death".
Chinese print credits Bruce Lee with scriptwriting and martial arts choreography and Sammo Hung Kam - Bo as director and martial arts choreographer. U.S print credits 'Jan Spears' as scriptwriter and just 'Robert Clouse' as the director. Sammo Hung gets sole fight choreographer credit in this version (as Hung Kim Po)
The original UK cinema version removed the entire nunchaku battle between Bruce Lee and Dan Inosanto, as well as the re-editing of the opening and closing credits. Video versions received a further cut to a close up shot of the back-break of Han Jai Ji and although the cinema version had the opening and closing credits re-edited, the video versions instead had freeze framing to scenes of nunchaku and violence. The cuts were fully restored for the 2001 Hong Kong Legends release although the 2005 Universal DVD featured the heavily cut video version.
The Japanese theatrical cut of the film is virtually identical to the American cut, except that it uses Bruce Lee's real battle cries during the fight scenes as opposed to the fake ones by Chris Kent. Also, there is an extra bit of Cantonese dialogue from the second fighter in the finale (played by Ji Hon Jae) in which he warns Billy Lo that he must defeat him to continue. This cut has been released as a bonus feature on the 2012 Japanese Blu-ray from Paramount Japan and the 2013 American Blu-ray from Shout Factory.
A sequence showing Bruce Lee grabbing Kareem Abdul Jabbar between his legs from behind causing him to fall to the ground and hold his groin was removed from Pan and Scan video versions due to cropping issues.
The 4K restorations by L'Immagine RItrovata (as seen on the 2017 Shout Factory blu-ray) cut a half-second freeze frame shot of Billy Lo towards the end of the film when he thinks he has found Dr. Land's corpse.
In July 2019, Alan Canvan premiered "Game of Death Redux", a new edit of the fight footage Bruce Lee shot in 1972 for "Game of Death". This version is included as a special features extra on Criterion Collection's Bruce Lee Bluray/DVD box set released on July 14, 2020. Produced by Alan Canvan, "Redux" re-frames Lee's extended fight footage ( of which only approx 12 minutes were used in the original film) with composer John Barry's riveting score for the 1978 film, to reveal the hidden symbolism and themes within the narrative of the story. The result is a powerful and resonant cinematic novella that explores classical mythology and Jungian psychology, honoring the artistry of both Bruce Lee and John Barry. The more noticeable differences between "Game of Death Redux" and "Game of Death" (1978) include: The footage incorporates accurate missing dialogue not available in any previous versions. The opening uses a written narrative of the plot leading to the fight footage in the Pagoda. Newly dubbed voices for Bruce Lee, James Tien and Ji Han Jae's characters. New Title sequence and end credits. Running time of 34:26.
Roy Chiao appears only in the English language version and Casanova Wong appears only in the Chinese language version.
The Hong Kong version is missing the entire fight scene between Bruce Lee and Han Jai Ji.
The Platinum Edition DVD from Hong Kong Legends includes a feature length documentary on the life of Bruce Lee on its second disc. One of the major parts of this DVD is a meticulous recutting and rearanging of "Game of Death", said to be the closet version to the "Game of Death" movie Bruce originally intended to be made. It has a completely different plot, as the plot of the most typical verson was created after Bruce's death.
An unofficial DVD release circling the Internet entitled "Game of Death: Integral" features a 127 min cut of the film featuring:
  • A large majority of Bruce Lee's original footage not used in the official release. This is most notable in the final three fights as there is now dialog between Billy Lo and Pasqual as well as with Hakim. The final three fights added up to only 10 minutes in the 1978 release, but the combined length of the fights in this cut is 25 minutes.
  • The greenhouse fight in the Hong Kong version is also in this cut along with an extended scene before the fight in which Billy Lo is training on his outdoor balcony as he hears banging noises from the other room. This is actually footage from Meng Long Guojiang with new sound effects added. Also, when Billy comes back to his apartment after the fight, he finds a note reading "Have you two made out your wills?" along with a phone call from Dr. Land in which all he says is "You bastard!" with a follow up villainous laugh.
  • The opening theme is replaced with an updated version of the Game of Death theme originally created for the Japanese film Bruce Lee in G.O.D.
  • The infamous "cardboard cutout head" shot shown in all other versions has been replaced with a close up shot of Bruce Lee from Jing Wu Men.
  • The even more infamous shot of the real corpse of Bruce Lee from his actual funeral has been replaced with a horizontally flipped shot of the outside of the funeral parlor with all of the fans standing outside.
  • All of the fake Bruce Lee yells have been replaced with real yells from stock audio.
  • The film's ending is an extension of the Hong Kong ending in which Billy Lo is arrested. However, the scene inter-cuts with Billy Lo (from the original Bruce Lee footage) walking back down the stairways of the Red Pepper Restaurant complex ending with him yelling out to the police in Cantonese "Help me!" One officer looks up and replies "Hurry down!" The scene ends with Billy Lo being taken away by the police, then fading to a tracking shot revealing the yellow and black tracksuit laying over top of a chair in an editing room and a narrator reading from Lee's Tao of Jeet Kune Do discussing "The Void".
  • The film also ends with a large number of bloopers and outtakes from Bruce Lee's original Game of Death footage.

See also

Trivia | Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Connections | Soundtracks

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