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The Game of Death


Bruce Lee's unfinished project

In Their Own Words

Pang Him (producer 2003) : When I was in Korea, my boss (Raymond Chow) called me and told me that he had hired a movie star from the USA, his name was Bruce Lee. Bruce came back to star in some action films. He was in Thailand, taking the film, The Big Boss. He said he'd like to take a chance to visit Korea. He liked Tae Kwon Do very much, as well as Aikido, so I collected a lot of information about that and told it to Bruce Lee.

South China Morning Post (December 1971) : Shooting begins next month with Bruce Lee starring and directing from his own script. Though set mostly in Hong Kong, the film will have some outdoor scenes in South Korea. Bruce says, 'The story is about a young man who matures in to a boxer with firm principles. It's not about myself as some rumours have said but it concerns a subject that I know best.'

Sammo Hung (co-star 2002) : Before we shot Enter the Dragon, Bruce wanted me to be involved with the film, Game of Death. Bruce asked me if I was available to do the film, and I told him yes. 8 months went by without me hearing anything regarding Game of Death, so I took another project that filmed in Bangkok and then Korea. I missed the chance to be a character in the Game of Death. Bruce was very angry with me because I promised to do the film. I had not heard from anyone on the production so I had to decide to find work. The production of Game of Death came to a stop because Bruce started work on Enter the Dragon. I received a call from Bruce and he told me that he wanted me to fight him in Enter the Dragon. I told Bruce that I could not do the film because I was shooting in Bangkok. At that time in my career I could not tell the director, producers, etc., that I had to leave to do something else. Bruce kept on me for a while and eventually I was given permission to go shoot the scene with Bruce. I told Bruce I could only stay two days of shooting and I would have to come back to Bangkok on the second night. Bruce agreed and I went back to Hong Kong. When Bruce and I met up, we had rehearsal at his house. Rehearsal was very quick. We worked out some moves and talked a lot and Bruce said to me, "We shoot tomorrow." The next thing that happened was kind of funny. Bruce and I were on the set hanging around and we were not talking much. I said to him, "How do you feel about me?" Bruce told me that he was very angry and he did not like me. I said, "Why!" I told him we did not have any arguments or problems with each other. Bruce said, "You lied to me, you told me you would do the Game of Death." I told Bruce that I waited around for 8-to-9 months and did not hear from anyone. I told him that I was not rich and did not have the luxury to wait around for work. We both spoke for a while and then we began to rehearse our scene. The two days of shooting went very quick. On the second day of shooting Bruce and I were in make-up and he came up to me and told me, "Yesterday I did not like you, but now I like you very much." We became good friends. After that, Bruce came by a few times to see me work on other projects. He and I would be in his office and he would show me weapons and martial arts moves. He was great. It's funny; Bruce liked to dress in a Chinese costume in which he did not wear underpants. That was pretty funny. We always talked about weapons and martial arts. Those were great times.

Bruce Lee (August 1972) : At present I am working on a script for my next film. I haven't really decided on the title yet, but what I want to show is the necessity to adapt one-self to changing circumstances. The inability 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 in on a clump of trees while the sounds of a strong gale fill the screen. There is a huge tree in the centre of the screen and it is all covered with thick snow. Suddenly there is a loud snap and a huge branch of the tree falls to the ground. It cannot yield to the force of the snow so it breaks. Then the camera moves to a willow tree which is bending with the wind. Because it adapts itself to the environment, the willow survives."

Linda Lee (ex-wife 2001) : This was his 'martial arts baby', you might say, in that he had an idea of how he wanted to show his martial art to the viewing public; these are the various steps in finding your own way in martial art. The different styles and what styles mean and more important, what they don't mean. That was Bruce's big message, the style of no style. The Game of Death was going to be the platform for these expressions. Bruce had done a great deal of writing about the martial arts in the years before the making of The Game of Death, before he went back to Hong Kong. Many of his writings appeared in magazines such as Black Belt, where he wrote a definite expression of what his way of martial art, Jeet Kune Do, meant. I believe that this background of research and a building of a philosophy of JKD is what Bruce intended to relate through The Game of Death - how all knowledge, as Bruce often said, is self-knowledge. Bruce used martial art as a vehicle to learn about himself and to be able to express himself. So everything he had learned to that point about himself he wanted to express in The Game of Death to show people what it meant to live life as a martial artist. In other words, all of his life was interpreted through the vehicle that he chose for self-expression, which he called Jeet Kune Do.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (student/co-star 1993) : In the summer of 1972 Bruce called me and asked if i wanted to be in this film. He called looking for me and got my number. We had 3 weeks from when school ended and i had to go to the training camp for the NBA. So he said, 'Come on over and we'll shoot. I have a scene, i have several scenes all mapped out and the set has already been built. We can knock this out in about 10 days.' So that's all it took and i flew over there and we did it. We didn't even have any working agreement. We did the film and he said that we'd get the particulars worked out later.

Doug Palmer (student 2003) : I visited Bruce on The Game of Death set. He was in between scenes; we didn't actually see any of the filming, as I recall. He showed us the first movie he made after he returned to Hong Kong in the private screening room at the studio (we hadn't seen any before), and he showed us still photos of the fight scenes with Kareem, etc. Bruce explained the plot of the movie. It was mostly completed by that time, I think. I guess he didn't complete it before he died, but I believe it was still mostly completed when we visited, at least the climactic scene with Kareem had been shot, so he had a pretty good sense of what he wanted the film to be at that point.


'Beopjusa Temple' in South Korea which was to be the location for the finale of The Game of Death

Chan Wai Man (actor) : I knew Chieh Yuan, he was a karate man. He died not too long after Bruce, of a brain tumour. I went to visit Bruce when they were preparing the sets for Game of Death, but not when they were filming.

Nora Miao (co-star 2005) : Bruce told me that i had a role in The Game of Death but in the end i wasn't in it. He told me that the character was a girl, the whole plot developed around me, everything happened because of me. He said, 'It's a good story.' An independant company in Taiwan, borrowed me from Golden Harvest, for a romance. So i chose to make that romantic film (The Story of Daisy - Nick Clarke). I didn't want to appear in Bruce's films all the time.

Pang Him (2003) : He wrote the script in English. At that time, we seldom had a Chinese script. The place where we wanted to build the set, I had to prepare 30 bulls and feed them. They were for those who acted as villains to eat. They wanted it raw, there were over 100 fighters, all of them good at Kung Fu, Aikido, Tae Kwon Do and Karate. Many foreigners were added in. Bruce told the boss that he loved Korea much. Those boxers gave him a sense of reality, he liked everything real, so he wanted me to provide him with some powerful men.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (2001) : The plot to The Game of Death was that Bruce was trying to save someone, and he had to get to the top of this pagoda in order to do whatever he needed to do, and save someone. I was at the top of the pagoda because i was supposed to be the most effective fighter. I don't have any style. And i was also in a place where my strengths were enhanced by the environment, so it was dark up there. Bruce's idea was that i was supposed to be light sensitive, my eyes were light sensitive and that was a problem for me. But other than that i was supposed to be this incredible human specimen, that was the whole idea about it. And in the film, Bruce started knocking out the panes in the walls so that more light came in and i couldn't see and that's when he got his advantage in the fight.

George Lazenby (actor 1994) : The movie he did with the basketball player - The Game of Death. And he was going to finish it with me and he wasn't going to kill me off. It was about different levels and we're talking about spirituality and different levels of awareness. As you get to the higher levels in this temple that he had built. I think he'd done the first two levels or something at the time and we were going higher.

Pang Him (2003) : It was March 1973 when Bruce asked me to prepare the filming in Korea. He wanted to film The Game of Death in Korea. I had to do many things, say the fighters Tae Kwon Do, Aikido, Karate or anything but these were not important. The fighters were the most important. He was willing to work with them and the tower, it should be 7 floors. There was a different danger in each floor and he had to fight one after another. On the top floor, the most powerful villain was waiting. He had to fight with that powerful guy on the top floor. He told me many things, so I went there to prepare for it.

Bob Wall (co-star 1999) : I was in the original film in 1973 (The Game of Death). When we were doing the original story, it was like Hercules and the 7 doors but here, there was a 7 floor building, each floor had a bigger, meaner, monster and I was on level 5, Kareem Abdul Jabbar was on level 7. Thats why when you see the great Kareem fight scene, Bruce is so heavily out of wind, there is no explanation for it because in the original he had come up 7 flights and fought 6 monsters.

Betty Ting Pei (1983) : On July 20th, 1973, Bruce visited my home to discuss the screenplay for The Game of Death which was to star us both.

Tony Liu/Lau Wing (co-star 2003) : We were still in the midst of filming and discussing The Game of Death in which i was going to have a part. I never did it.

Dan Inosanto (2005) : I was supposed to play a Filipino from the South Philipinnes and that's the way he wanted it. That's what he portrayed me as and he was constantly changing the script. I don't know if i was on the 4th floor or the 3rd floor because he was constantly changing it and the last floor was the style of the unknown which was played by Kareem. I liked it because it was new to me and i wasn't in to film work and i'd never worked in that atmosphere before so i enjoyed it very very much.


Bruce Lee's drawings and notes courtesy of David Tadman

Ji Han Jae/Chi Hon Tsoi (2001) : Andrews airforce base i met Jhoon Rhee. Taekwondo master Jhoon Rhee had an international championship and i did a demonstration. This is where Jhoon Rhee introduced me to Bruce Lee. He looked at my technique and he liked my technique. That's why he came to Andrews airforce base and he leaned to do several of my techniques. Then when he went back to Hong Kong, he invited me.

Pang Him (2003) : Chi Hon Tsoi/Ji Han Jae is wonderful! He was actually the head of the security force of the President's house. He was the head of the royal guards. Actually, they can't film in movies, and it's hard for me to reach him. I don't know what to say but it was really tough. At last, I brought him to Hong Kong and introduced him to Bruce. They were Kung Fu lovers, both of them love to exercise, so they communicated well. Bruce had honey lips and I translated his words. At last, they reached a deal. Chi Hon Choi took the job to star in the film. The scene wasn't that smooth. The Korean actor - Chi Hon Tsoi/Ji Han Jae hadn't taken any film before, that was his first time. Bruce was demanding. Sometimes he asked his student to show him once. When they acted in front of the camera, they couldn't take many shots in one day. It was really hard for them. Bruce Lee didn't blame him but said 'sorry,' he said, 'Let's take a rest and try again.' Chi was moved and they made it at last.

Linda Lee (2001) : Bruce was a perfectionist on a film set. He always choreographed all of his own fights in detail. Writing them down - every single movement. Rehearsing them endlessly with the stuntmen and having many many takes so it was always just perfect. Bruce was very aware of how camera angles worked in fight scenes. I visited him on The Game of Death set on more than one occassion. The children, Brandon and Shannon and I were always welcome on the film sets and we enjoyed going there because he was having a lot of fun with it. First of all, Kareem was his good friend as was Dan Inosanto and some of the other martial artists were his good friends and he had worked with them many times in the past. Kareem was his student, Dan was his student and assistant instructor so he had a real fun time working with these fellows and constructing the fight scenes.

Henry Wong (camera-man/photographer 2003) : When filming The Game of Death, the most difficult part was taken in the tower. We didn't sleep for 7 days and nights, it was really a hard time for us. Bruce had to film Enter the Dragon first but the script wasn't that satisfactory so he took The Game of Death first. In the middle of that he made Enter the Dragon again.

Li Kun/Lee Quin/Lee Kwan (co-star 2003) : I acted as a locksmith. There were 10 floors total in that tower. He went up and up facing different challengers. He did 3 floors and then he died. There were 7 floors left to film. When he reached the top floor he couldn't open the safe. I am the one to open the safe. More or less, I'm a thief, I could open all sorts of locks. When he reached the 9th floor, he was exhausted. I got that script and I got the money too but he died before finishing the movie. I was paid so I couldn't stop acting.

Carter Wong (actor) : Bruce Lee asked me to be in his movie The Game of Death but unfortunately he died. I would be on his side fighting together going up a tower. Every level has one master you have to pass to go up to the top.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (2001) : After we saw the first days rushes, we had to slow everything down because we were moving too fast and it looked too jerky on film. So we had to slow it down so the camera could follow us and people could see things because we were doing things like we practiced it. Practice with Bruce - we'd do several things in a split second and the audience would miss the subleties in what he was trying to do if we didn't slow it down.

George Lazenby (1994) : Bruce said, 'I wanna do a film with you.' Just like that. He said, 'I like you.' So i said, 'That's why i came over here.' And he said, 'Have you got any money?' And i said, 'Why do you ask?' He said, 'I just get the feeling when someone's waiting on a bus stop for a taxi or a bus that you don't have a lot of money.' And so i said, 'Well no, I'm not really flush right now.' He said, 'Raymond (Chow) give George a cheque for $10,000 now!' I said, 'Thanks Bruce, what's it for?' He said, 'You're going to do a picture and this is the deposit on the picture that you're going to do with me.' I said, 'Thanks very much,' and Raymond hesitately wrote out the cheque not knowing, 'What picture?' Bruce said, 'It don't matter. It's for a picture with George.' And so i took my cheque.


Unseen footage of Bruce Lee in The Game of Death. Photo courtesy of George Tan

Dan Inosanto (1975) : The Temple of Unknown sequence was finished before i got to Hong Kong (25th September, 1972 - Nick Clarke). I met Kareem leaving just as i arrived. I don't know how much of the film was finished but i think about half. Prior to filming, i had bought my own costume. We had discussed it and Bruce approved of it. That and the Moro head band used in the film are traditional of the escrima people of Moroland, that muslim area of the southern part of the Philippines. In both rehearsals and during shooting Bruce was the most intensive worker i've ever seen.

Wu Ngan (co-star/stuntman 2003) : What has been seen is basically what was filmed for The Game of Death, except for some outside footage we filmed on Kowloon side. There is also footage shot of practice sessions either at Bruce's house or studio. I am speaking of what I know, but maybe there is more when he filmed when I was not around.

Taky Kimura (student 2001) : I think it was October of 1972 that he called me and said he wanted me to be in that movie. And i said, 'Look Bruce, i've got two left feet. You know it, i know it. There's probably a thousand people in Hong Kong that could do better than i can. Just let me sit here and enjoy the fruits of your success. You know me: I don't need to be in that'. He said, 'No, i want you in it; i'm the technical director and the coproducer, so don't worry about it.' I was reluctant for fear that he would kick my butt if i said no, so i said, 'OK.' But the filming was to happen in October, and i was engaged in an import-export business with Japan at the time, and October was the month that i had to really get out to the various wholesalers to sell my product. So, i called back and got hold of Linda, and i said, 'Linda, i just can't make it.' 'Well,' she said, 'don't worry about it. Bruce has been called to go to Warner Bros. in California to talk about a new movie project they're working on together, and if it goes through, we're going to postpone The Game of Death until it's over with.' Of course that's what happened. But prior to that, he had already sent me an airline ticket and told me to bring my blue gung fu uniform. Weeks or maybe a month or so before he died, after Enter the Dragon was all done and over with, he called me and said, 'We are going to finish The Game of Death now.' He said, 'Send that old ticket back, and i'll get you a new one. I want you back in there again.' And very reluctantly, i agreed. I was really worried because Bruce was a perfectionist, and i just didn't think i had it in me to measure up to what he wanted me to do. But unfortunately, he passed away just prior to that, and so that was history.

Ted Wong (student 1997) : Herb Jackson and I went to visit Bruce Lee in December of 1972. We stayed at his home and shared Christmas and New Year of 1973 with Bruce and his family. At that time, he said, "Boy, you guys got here at just the right time. This is the most peaceful and relaxed moment I've had since I got here (in Hong Kong). I'm in between movies (The Game of Death / Enter the Dragon) and have a bit of spare time to relax and talk." We were actually there to attend the premiere of The Way of the Dragon. This was very exciting, they hold their premieres at midnight in Hong Kong. I enjoyed that movie very much.


Li Kun (2003) : Someone invited Bruce to take this challenge but he could only fight one level after the other. He couldn't open this lock. He hired me. I'm an old thief, I love wine, at the most critical time, he fought up to the 9th floor and was almost exhausted. It was dangerous until the 10th floor and when he had to open the lock, I was drunk. He was driven mad, it's funny. It's boring to watch them fighting all the time so you must add something, something funny to give them a break.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (2001) : I was at the top of the pagoda because, you know, i was the most effective fighter; i didn't have any style. And i was also in a place where my strengths were enhanced by the environment: it was dark. I was supposed to be light sensitive - that was a problem for me - but other than that, i was an incredible human specimen, etc. That was the whole idea about it. And he started knocking out the panes in the walls so that more light came in and i couldn't see, and that's when he got his advantage in the fight.

William Cheung (Bruce's Childhood Wing Chun friend) : Bruce had a lot of trouble with The Game of Death. When he was doing it he had approached me to be in it. But firstly i still think, fighters can't act, actor's can't fight, so i said, 'Who me? Me in the movie. No way, get Wong Shun Leung.' He actually got Wong Shun Leung but he died so Wong Shun Leung had no chance to do it. He called me a few days before he died. He was worried about his health, he was losing a lot of weight, he was having a lot of personal problems and so on. He wasn't happy with the movie company.

Wong Shun Leung (Bruce's Wing Chun instructor 1978) : He called me up and wanted me to participate in the making of The Game of Death. He had also invited me to the studio to attend a screen test. I did not promise to act in the film, yet I still went to attend the screen test to please him. I brought along a student named Wan on my trip to the studio.

Linda Lee (2001) : Bruce in his movies before The Game of Death had always worn a Chinese gung-fu outfit. But this was because of the setting of the films: they were set in prior times, in traditional times, and so that fit with the overall themes of the pictures. But people who understand Bruce's philosophy of martial art, the way he had taught from when he first came to the United States, the way he conducted his classes, his private lessons, the articles he wrote for magazines about what he felt about the martial arts - people who understand that would know that Bruce would be called an iconoclast or rebel in the martial arts, someone who thought in a nontraditional way. So, i think the wearing of the yellow tracksuit was an expression of how he felt about the martial arts: that you need not be dressed in a traditional uniform in order to be an effective fighter. That yellow tracksuit is something that is comfortable. It's flexible; you can move without restriction. I think that is why he chose it.


Hong Kong Newspaper Report courtesy of David Tadman - 3rd October, 1972

Robert Lee (brother 2001) : I will tell you this about The Game of Death. Bruce did have some 60 pages more or less. It had dialogue, ideas, fights etc. Bruce was the type to always be changing and discovering new ideas. Bruce might have, or not have changed what he had written. As far as I know there was no ending filmed yet, or beginning. There was a story line though. Bruce worked very hard on The Game of Death and it shows.

George Tan (historian 2000) : As far as I know, Bruce's sister is kidnapped, not wife. Betty Ting Pei told me that Bruce intended to have her as his wife in the film, but she wasn't the one being kidnapped. I personally have my doubts as to whether he would have used her at all, but this is from her mouth. Bruce Lee told her this the night he died. Bruce actually held auditions for the role of the sister, of which I have all the shots. (The funny thing is one the gals is auditioning in a bikini-fringe benefits?). Wong Shun Leung told me Bruce wanted him for a tower level, but I believe Taky Kimura was to replace him. It was supposed to be representing the `inner-gate' styles, i.e.-Wing Chun and Tong Long Mantis, which keeps the elbows in,etc.I personally feel this would have been the prime fight scene, since Lee was so wicked in that range.

Henry Wong (2003) : I used to make documentary film when taking Enter the Dragon and The Game of Death.

Li Kun (2003) : I didn't have to prepare much for the shooting and after that when they were ready they call me. The most powerful fighter was on the 10th floor and he took it. He had wounds all over his body as he took so many challengers.

David Tadman (author/historian 2005) : The reason I say there is outdoor footage is because of my interviews with Sifu Dan Inosanto who says there were many things filmed outside in the New Territories, be it for the film, or be it for promotional, or maybe practice stuff, I don't know, but he says he at one time was holding the camera when Bruce was being filmed. Betty Ting Pei claims she was there at least one of the days they were shooting outside and saw camera's or camera. Also my conversations with Wu Ngan have also suggested they were filming as well, but with Wu Ngan, he says he is confused a bit, because there was a shoot he did outside with Bruce while Bruce was wearing a suit, posing with he and others while in karate uniforms and he says that footage was supposed to be for 'Enter the Dragon' and then there is the footage when Bruce is wearing no top, etc. outside in the New Territories and knows for fact that was for 'Game'. I have seen some footage, but not much, that Robert Lee has that shows Bruce outside swinging the chucks once at Sifu Dan along with some other stuff. Be that Bruce's personal footage or something else, we are trying to put tobether the pieces. George Tan has obviously done the research, long before me or some others out there, but I feel that does not mean the footage does not exist.

George Tan (2003) : The ending for The Game of Death was from Silent Flute - the character goes to the top (after disposing of the Korean Gang) and sees a curtain. He parts them and sees a big mirror. That's the treasure. This was told to me by Unicorn Chan, Bob Baker and Peter Chin on separate occasions.

Wong Shun Leung (1986) : I was going to be Bruce Lee's final opponent at the top of the tower at the end of the film. My character was to have beaten Bruce but he would still have managed to kill me! I told him that I didn't want to go and die in my first movie! I wasn't in dire financial straits at the time, so I didn't have to do the film to make money."

Dan Inosanto (2005) : I worked with Bruce on The Game of Death. I took off work for two months and went to Hong Kong. Bruce told me to just be myself and he coached me on my scenes and the few lines of diologue that i had. On the fight scenes, we went back and forth and that established what i should do and what i shouldn't do. I found he was very patient coach for me when i was first getting in to the business. The bottom floor of the pagoda was to be guarded by Karate men. This changed many many times. The second floor would be guarded by a person very proficient in something like Praying Mantis. The third floor would be a kicking system and a throwing system. The fifth floor was a weaponry floor which he wanted me to take care off. The last floor was the floor of the unknown which Kareem guarded. It has no style, the style of the unknown. Each floor Bruce had to solve the problem of fighting that particular plot. When we were filming in the New Territories - that was to establish my character as a kind of disclipinarian who is very strict and harsh to his students. That's why Bruce got me to be too abusive with the people i was working out with. That was to establish my character so we filmed in the New Territories and we shot there but no one seems to be able to find that footage. I don't know if that was just for that segment and no one seems to have it. But i remember filming and shooting a lot of photos for advertisement and commercials for that particular part and i do remember it was filmed in the New Territories. Bruce was behind the film and he always coached me. How my posture should be, the attitude i should have and he would coach me at every place. He would say, 'No i don't like that. You look like you're slopped over,' and he had me going through different postures that he thought would be more appropriate to the character i was playing.


Bruce Lee's break down notes for The Game of Death courtesy of David Tadman

Kung Fu Monthly Magazine (1975) : The island totally shuns the use of weapons such as guns and so to prevent any cheating, the place is littered with metal detectors. There are also numerous unfriendly guards around to help Bruce limber up prior to his siege of the pagoda, one of whom is described as a gigantic hulk-shaped man. On the third floor he meets the mysterious Gung Fu men which was certainly filmed. Kareem's character is ferocious and the story is told that at meal times, chunks of meat are thrown in through the door and only bones come out! Sources in London claim that at least half of the film was completed. When we travelled to Hong Kong, we were informed by a Golden Harvest representative that footage lasting longer than a whole film had been shot and that all that was needed to finish it for release was a series of linking sequences.

George Lazenby (1994) : Bruce said, 'I'm not going to kill you, you're going to be a good guy!' Because he killed practically everybody in these movies as they turned out to be bad. But he thought i'd be a great communication rod to the people that he didn't get through to because of his Chineseness. And he said, 'Some people don't see that we're all the same.' I was going to be Bruce's man that came in and saved him at the end and got him out of this - some kinda house - pyramid things with a top floor. I came in there and that was my introduction. I was like a mentor and he was super physical but i was wiser. And it was that kinda thing and i'd been mixed up in Chinese philosophy. I'd been caught up in some war or something and fallen back in to their philosophy for years in Korea or somewhere like that i think. Some monastery - i forget the exact details but he was going to introduce me in that way and i was gonna fade out again and then come in to another movie with him later.

Taky Kimura (1999) : Bruce said, 'I want you in that picture. I've already had Dan Inosanto and Jabbar in there and i want you in there to be the Praying Mantis practitioner that i have to go through in this tower.' Some kind of house or something that they were trying to get up to the top floor.

Bey Logan (author 2003) : Madalena Chan who was the production manager on Enter the Dragon followed Bruce Lee around every day making notes on The Game of Death. Unfortunately almost 20 years on dear Madalena cannot remember exactly or anything that Bruce Lee told her so where the notes lie now is anybody's guess.

Linda Lee (2001) : Bruce was a perfectionist on a film set. He always choreographed all of his own fights in detail. Writing them down - every single movement. Rehearsing them endlessly with the stuntmen and having many many takes so it was always just perfect. Bruce was very aware of how camera angles worked in fight scenes. I visited him on The Game of Death set on more than one occassion. The children, Brandon and Shannon and I were always welcome on the film sets and we enjoyed going there because he was having a lot of fun with it. First of all, Kareem was his good friend as was Dan Inosanto and some of the other martial artists were his good friends and he had worked with them many times in the past. Kareem was his student, Dan was his student and assistant instructor so he had a real fun time working with these fellows and constructing the fight scenes.

Dan Inosanto (1993) : The concept that he drew - there was a pagoda and there were 5 stories. The first group is guarded by 50 karate men and he gets through the first group. The second group is guarded by a Gung Fu man - 5 Gung Fu men and i've forgot what the styles were. And then the third floor was to be either Praying Mantis or Wing Chun. Next floor was my floor which was supposed to be eskrima and kali and he'd work himself up. The last floor was the floor of the unknown and that was supposed to be Jabbar, the style of the unknown and that's the last fight.

John Little (historian 2001) : With the approval of Linda Lee, I went to Hong Kong in March 1994 to meet with Golden Harvest's studio senior executives in order to locate the footage Bruce Lee shot for 'The Game of Death.' But Golden Harvest were in no way enthusiastic about assisting me in finding the footage. Golden Harvest had sold its interest in Bruce's films and to whom - they would not even reveal.

Bey Logan (2002) : I think that there are additional scenes from 'Game Of Death' locked away in the Golden Harvest archive. At the very least, there would be the now infamous log fight (and the outtakes therefrom), and the exterior scenes (and those outtakes). For legal reasons, I doubt they'll see the light of day any time soon. I found the footage, in the air-conditioned comfort of the Media Asia archive, in 1996. I just couldn't figure out what to do with it until 1999! There may well have been tapes of some or all of the footage circulating earlier than that. I had no knowledge of nor responsibility for the footage in the intervening years between when it was shot and when I found it. About the three hours of unseen 'Game of Death' outdoor footage...It hasn't been found yet! And, for the record, I've never worked at Golden Harvest. I was at Media Asia, which controlled the Golden Harvest library on behalf of Star TV. Confused? Not as much as we all were... From what I'm given to understand, the latest 'lost' footage is actually rehearsal material shot on videotape. I don't think any more actual film footage from 'Game Of Death' has turned up since I hit the old mother lode back in 1996. I don't know too much about Chieh Yuan. I heard he died as a result of a brain tumour, which isn't quite the same thing. I believe he did do some interviews in which he discussed Bruce and 'Game Of Death'. I'm of the opinion that his talking about 'Game of Death' and his dying were unrelated. Russell Cawthorne's planned 'Game Of Death' documentary expanded to become 'Bruce Lee, The Legend'. It was felt that a piece devoted to Bruce Lee as an icon would sell better than one focussing on a single film. Some of the footage Russell shot was incorporated into the 'Game of Death' section of 'Legend'. There must be a lot more lying around in, guess where?, the Golden Harvest archives. I, too, expected a book of mirrors at the top of the pagoda. I still haven't really seen a complete, logical narrative for 'Game Of Death', so its hard to say where Bruce would have gone with the ending.


Bruce Lee conducting auditions and rehearsing fight scenes for The Game of Death

George Tan (2001) : Bruce Lee didn't film anything in 1973 concerning The Game of Death. The last piece of footage he filmed was the opening scene with Sammo Hung for Enter the Dragon..He told his cameraman Nishimoto-san on July 15th that he wanted him to go and film exteriors of the Korean pagoda in August '73,and they would start filming later that year.

Taky Kimura : Just after Bruce's collapse in May of 1973, he called me from Los Angeles. He told me to send the old plane ticket that he'd given me - to go to Hong Kong to start work on The Game of Death - and he'd replace it.


David Tadman (2005) : From the notes I have seen through Dan Inosanto, George Lazenby was supposed to be some type of philosopher / poet / mythical type of guru. Bruce's script was changing it seemed every day. Bolo said he had nothing to do with 'Game of Death', when I interviewed him. The film of Bruce filming Dan Inosanto & Wu Ngan is practice footage shot by Bruce at his house in Kowloon for The Game of Death. This was shot the day Sifu Dan Inosanto arrived for filming. I found it and have transferred it. It is great and rare and has audio. According to Dan Inosanto, they did film more things and remembers Wong In Sik flying in to do work, but who really knows. There is a search going on right now by a certain someone I know who is searching for other Game of Death footage. Lets hope and see. Bruce also sent some really rare pictures to Taky and Inosanto from the filming of The Game of Death in where his is fighting Kareem, etc. The reason for this was, Bruce wanted to show Inosanto and Taky what he was doing before they came and shot their own scenes. Some of the pix are strange though and very rare. I am trying to piece it together, but I will say that a lot of those pix had some New Territories stuff going on. John Little did not have all the notes Bruce wrote on The Game of Death to work off of. John Little never contacted Inosanto for certain reasons at that time to go through his notes to see what Bruce was doing Game of Death related, and for sure, I feel Inosanto has the most complete notes from Bruce on The Game of Death project. I thought the finished product is not what Bruce wanted to do as far as what he wanted to include in the fights. I have seen and heard different things to counter-act what John Little did. It was entertaining to me, but not filling enough for me. Let's face it though, I will not player hate, Little was the Bruce Lee man at that time, but to be honest, you can say all you want to about him, he still did the job to the best of his ability and I really feel he was sincere with his work. I have to tell you though, George Tan probably has the most information out there on what happened that was Game of Death related. I am not in any way trying to put George Tan as the man here, but he really did the leg work back in the day before anyone else did, and had he done the documentary, it would have been a different story all together in my opinion.

Linda Lee (February 1975) : 'The Deadly Game' was nearly finished at Bruce's death and is now being completed by George Lazenby.

George Tan (2001) : There are no concrete dates on the outdoor filming bits. Wong Shun Leung said he was visiting on the set. I'm trying to find out who the skinny kicker was. Perhaps he would have more info. Wong was originally approached to do the part that Taky was going to do. Wong said he wasn't interested in filming. I don't think he was focused on The Game of Death when he did Enter the Dragon. Remember, he dropped the film when Enter the Dragon came along. The auditions were actually done in 1973, after Enter the Dragon finished filming. No exact date.

Robert Lee (2001) : I do not have the rights to the studio Game Of Death footage. I do have some of my own footage that I will be doing projects with in the future. There is a lot of footage out there yet to be seen. I even hear that there is an alternate fight for the end of The Way of the Dragon.

Chaplin Chang (assistant director 2002) : I do know that he liked the name Tang Lung (Bruce's character name in The Way of the Dragon) very much and that he wanted to use it in The Game of Death.

Jon Benn (co-star 2002) : I don't think The Game of Death was meant to be a sequel to The Way of the Dragon. Bruce talked of it as being something new and different, using many techniques.


Dan Inosanto and Wu Ngan doing rehearsals for The Game of Death which were filmed by Bruce Lee at his house in Hong Kong. Photo courtesy of David Tadman.

Linda Lee (2001) : I think it's evident in The Game of Death how Bruce planned to fight a person of a different style, a very precise style, on each floor of the pagoda and show how he could fit in with anybody else's style, having no style of his own - until he reached the top level, where Kareem also is a martial artist who, in the film, does not have any particular style.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1993) : Bruce and I had talked about doing a film, and he liked having to work against the problems i presented with my reach and my agility and my ability to move. He felt that would be an interesting fight in the context of a film, and that was what he wanted to show: how someone his size would have to go about dealing with someone my size in a fight to the death.

Jhoon Rhee (Tae Kwon Do Grandmaster 2001) : Bruce didn't ask me to appear in The Game of Death.

George Tan (2001) : I can't get clear answers as to how long he shot The Game of Death. Everybody I've asked just guesses. There are no call sheets or anything to confirm. The pages I saw were about 10 or so. John Little showed some in `epic'. But Dan Inosanto had those and probably some stuff Little didn't. He talked about The Game of Death to the crew of Enter the Dragon, but didn't do any work on it then. Let me explain to you the history of The Game of Death footage. Bruce Lee passes on. Linda Lee makes a public statement that The Game of Death will not be seen by the public to the Hong Kong press. Cut to a couple of years later. The Lee Estate owns 51% of Concord Films, the other 49% belonging to Raymond Chow. Concord has the following in it's library, 1-Way of Dragon, 2-50% of Enter the Dragon, 3-The Game of Death footage. Raymond and the Estate agree to settle up for a flat fee buy out. Raymond buys the 51% of Concord. Sole owner now. This is around 1975 or so. The Game of Death is patched together less than 2 years later, and released in 1978. Robert Clouse had dinner at my place a few years back, and told me he saw all the footage of The Game of Death and wasn't impressed.


Sources : Curse of the Dragon (1993), Bruce Lee A Warrior's Journey (2001), Death by Misadventure (1994), Intercepting Fist (1999), Dragon Since 1973 (2003), Hong Kong Legends Dvd's, Kung Fu Monthly Magazine, South China Morning Post, Bruce Lee Websites

Information Compiled and Page Created by Nick Clarke (July 2006)

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