True Game of Death
Other // Unrated // $14.95 // January 29, 2001
Review by J. Doyle Wallis | posted February 17, 2002
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For those that don't know, "Bruceploitation" has to be one of the strangest sub-genres in movie history. The untimely death of a rising star is probably the quickest way to make a legend, and there was nothing stranger than the way Chinese and Asian cinema handled the death of Bruce Lee. I always draw the parallel between Lee and James Dean. Both were basically known for and had their stardom based on three major films, for Dean East of Eden, Rebel Without a Cause and Giant, for Lee The Big Boss, Fists of Fury and Enter the Dragon. Both died at the height of their rising fame, and while Hollywood did grab a bunch of actors, calling them the "Next James Dean", the way Hong Kong and independent Asian studios handled Lee's death was far stranger. They went so far as to re-name men Bruce Li, Bruce Le, Dragon Lee, and they were all, for the most part, eerily physically similar, like a bunch of clones of this dead hero. This went on for the better part of a decade, a chorus line of various stars with Lee-like monikers, starring in films titled like Bruce Lee movies. The biggest shame of this genre is not the low quality and disrespecting the name of the dead nature of the films, it is that many of these guys were pretty charismatic or good martial performers and probably could have had good careers on their own if given the chance. Instead, they were relegated to being Bruce Lee clones, aping Lee's style in no-budget productions. Sure, some of them got to be in movies outside the "Bruceploitation" box, but as far as history is concerned they are, first and foremost, known as studio created Bruce wannabes.

True Game of Death represents the worst of this genre. The basic story is about a Bruce clone, Shao Lung (played by a no-name, never did much, Bruce-clone), who is pressured by the mob to do movies for them, to let them run his career. At various points they try to drug him, with the help his white girlfriend (the Chinese never accepted the real Bruce's white wife), and eventually are lead to believe he is dead. His supposed death leads to various scenes in which the Bruce-clone is able to ape other Lee films like disguises from The Big Boss, and he confronts a tower full of goons like in Game of Death, even including a tall black guy, who is no Kareem Abdul Jabar.

Not only is a bad film for its horrible story, and lack of any action worth noting, it tramples Bruce's name like no other, inserting stock footage of his press conferences, his funeral, newspapers reporting his death, and using Bruce film clips (under a horrible saturated, polarized color effect) as signs that the Bruce-clone daydreams and is inhabited by the spirit of the real Bruce.

Unless you are the most die-hard of Bruceploitation fans/completists, its really not worth a second of your life.

The DVD: EPI/Gotham Entertainment Picture- Fullscreen. Your usual wear and tear, specks and dirt. Good color and the sharpness varies, some scenes look fine others are very soft. Sound- 2.0 Mono English dub, overall nice and loud, with some reverb, especially in the tacked on voice-overs for the stock footage. Extras- 6 Chapters, and it completely blacks out for several seconds as it changes between them.



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