“Game of Death II” (1981)
Studio: Golden Harvest Company
Starring: Bruce Lee, Tai Chung Kim, Jang Lee Hwang, Roy Horan
Directed by: See-Yuen Ng
Running Time: 86 min.
Synopsis: A martial arts fighter is looking for his brother’s killer and the body of his brother’s murdered friend.
Since the death of Bruce Lee, there have been many films made with imitators and even films where footage was used from his old movies mixed in with a Bruce Lee double. The awful Game of Death was like that, where it used footage Lee shot before he died, then shooting new footage with a look-a-like for wide shots and using footage from his other movies for the close-ups. Game of Death II or Si wang ta is the same way, but surprisingly, this sequel was actually a good movie.
The film has nothing to do with the first Game of Death, except the name of Bruce Lee’s character (Billy Lo) is the same, but in a way that’s a good thing because the first film wasn’t good, so it’s great they did a fresh start. The movie is about Billy Lo who finds out his good friend, Chin Ku, dies suddenly. Billy wonders about the mysterious circumstances surrounding Chin Ku’s death and tries to get to the bottom of it. Billy doesn’t get anywhere and at the day of Chin Ku’s funeral the coffin is stolen by helicopter right before it was to be buried. Billy tries to stop them by jumping on the helicopter, but is shot with a deadly drat and falls to his death.
Billy’s brother, Bobby, finds out the news of his brother’s demise and wants to avenge his death and find out what happened to the body of Chin Ku. He finds out that Chin Ku was training with another martial arts expert, Lewis, on an island off of Japan. Bobby decides to go there in hope to find out the mystery surrounding his brother’s and Chin Ku’s death.
Raymond Chow, who did many martial arts films including all of Bruce Lee’s, produces the movie and usually you can’t go wrong with a Chow film. Although the film is cut and pasted with scenes of Lee’s other movies, Game of Death II has its own identity. Lee’s character is killed off half way through the film and the second half is focused on Bobby Lo and has all original scenes. Plus, most of the scenes with Lee are from deleted scenes from Enter the Dragon, which at that time these scenes were never seen before. (Some scenes were added back into Enter the Dragon in the late 90’s.) They also used some of Lee’s earlier work in Hong Kong as a child actor during a flashback scene.
To me, the film is like two different movies in one, in which the first half revolves around Billy and the second is about Bobby. Most of the time this is disastrous for a movie, which could be confusing for viewers, but for this case it works. Both themes are compelling and good with some great fight scenes. It was also a risk to kill off the main character of the film 45 minutes in and then introduce a new main character and expect the people to like them, but for this it worked. Another film that comes to mind that did this successfully was the Hitchcock classic, Psycho. (I can’t believe I just compared Psycho to Game of Death II.)
They are many great moments throughout this movie and some excellent martial arts scenes. One has Chin Ku fighting a guy while holding and drinking a cup of tea. There’s a great fight scene when Billy takes on a gang in downtown Hong Kong. I actually liked the second half of the film the best, when Bobby goes off to the island run by Lewis. This is almost a homage to Enter the Dragon, where Lewis has fighters come to challenge him to the death. The loser’s bodies get fed to Lewis’ lions he has on the grounds. There’s even a scene where Bobby wear’s a similar outfit to the one Lee wore in Enter the Dragon. There’s even an underground lab which is just like the one in Enter the Dragon.
The Lewis character is a strange dude. He has all these exotic animals, a henchman with one arm, and he eats raw meat and deer’s blood for breakfast. The climax to the film is the best part of the whole movie and some great fight scenes with Bobby squaring off with a number of opponents. They are also a few surprises towards the end which some are predictable and others are not.
If you’re a fan of Bruce Lee or martial arts films, then this is worth checking out. A much better movie than the first one and it’s a better film on its own. They should have called the movie something else besides Game of Death II. I remember first seeing the title thinking it was going to be horrible, but I ended up liking it. The film is not great, but it is good. They are a few slow moments in the beginning, but other than that it’s a good watch.