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DUNGEONS & DRAGONS: HONOR AMONG THIEVES




Game of Death

Comparison:

  • Final Game of Death
  • A Warrior's Journey
Release: Aug 06, 2023 - Author: Muck47 - Translator: Muck47 - external link: IMDB

Comparison between the 2023 reconstruction (The Final Game of Death - Arrow Video) and the 2000 reconstruction (A Warrior's Journey - Warner)

Runtimes:

  • Reconstruction in A Warrior's Journey: 34:01 min
  • Reconstruction in The Final Game of Death: 46:15 min

 

BRUCE LEE AT GOLDEN HARVEST from Arrow Video in 4K UHD

July 17, 2023 was a day of celebration for fans of martial arts icon Bruce Lee, as in the UK, aficionado label Arrow Video has released an impressively equipped box set. The centerpiece, of course, are the 3.5 films Lee shot in Hong Kong: The Big Boss, Fist of Fury, The Way of the Dragon and the unfinished Game of Death are included in new 4K restorations. In addition, the sequel Game of Death II (aka Tower of Death), which at least contains some snippets of exclusive footage featuring Lee, is available in true HD for the first time. Previous Blu-rays having been upscales only. The US co-production Enter the Dragon is also included for the sake completeness, but unfortunately only in the form of the 2013 Blu-ray, as Warner will exclusively distribute the 4K premiere here from August 10, 2023.

What makes the box so special, however, is on the one hand the lush package of pretty much every original audio track imaginable, newly created subtitles and bonus material for every single film. From The Big Boss alone, for example, there were four different music scores back in the day, and no matter which variation of those you prefer, here you have them to choose from. Several newly recorded audio commentaries and really excellently researched featurettes let you dive deep into the entire legacy and background surrounding Lee's brief creative period as well as the impact on the film industry. In AVForums' review, it was aptly summed up as "the single best physical media boxset release of 2023," "hard to beat by anyone in the physical media game," or simply, "In a word...wow."

On the other hand, from our point of view, it is of course the completely insane accumulation of different film versions that is the focus of quite a few new reports. While most of those versions are more for the die-hard fan, two little "sensations" clearly stand out.

Sensation #1 is certainly that the 10 minute longer Mandarin Cut of The Big Boss has actually been found. After its Hong Kong premiere in 1971 with a Mandarin dub, the film was already trimmed somewhat to the crisper running time of just under 100 minutes for worldwide export in 1972 and has never been available in the original version since. Choppy scenes, quick additional moments in trailers as well as old VHS releases or set photos showing scenes not present in the actual movie have fueled speculation for decades about what exactly was lost on the cutting room floor. But no: the infamous saw scene is unfortunately not to be discovered in the new Mandarin Cut either. We have summarized many more details in the report on the Mandarin Cut.

Sensation #2 is clearly the find of the remaining film reels that Bruce shot himself for Game of Death back then. To sum it up quickly: The film versions released in the late 70s used only a fraction of just 11 minutes of it, completely disfigured by a bonkers trash plot around it. In the late '90s, some of the original footage was found, and there were several reconstruction attempts to edit it down to, after all, ~35-40 minutes that would do justice to Lee's vision for the extended final battle in the Pagoda. With the film reels now complete for the first time and looking fresher than ever in HD, another reconstruction has been made. This is the concluding chapter of a whopping 223 minute documentary, which rolls up the concept behind this movie in detail and also presents the complete, nearly two hour long raw footage with a commentary track.

For a few more first-hand insights, check out the interview with Brandon Bentley on YouTube (starting at 64th minute). Bentley is also one of the many helpers on various Asia Blu-rays in the UK from Eureka and 88 Films, e.g. he built the reconstructed original version of The 18 Bronzemen. He shares some interesting details here about the lengthy production process behind the Lee box and his first reactions to hearing about and then actually seeing the newly found footage. In addition, Arrow producer James Flower, who is responsible for most of the box's content, gives a comprehensive "viewing guide" to the individual versions and audio options in the wonderfully detailed book within the box, starting on page 175.

 

Production History of GAME OF DEATH: Original Material vs. 1978 Film

In the summer of 1972, Bruce Lee's directorial debut, Way of the Dragon, was in post-production. However, Lee was already highly motivated and preparing for his next ambitious project. From September 7th to 11th of that year, he gathered part of the same cast in Korea for additional filming. Further shooting took place from October 22nd to 25th in Korea. Using handwritten notes for fight choreography and planned shots, Lee filmed about two hours of footage for three out of five levels in the pagoda, where the finale of his second directorial work was supposed to take place.

Through this "Multi-Level" setting, Lee intended to demonstrate the philosophy of his Jeet Kune Do concept, which emphasized adaptation to different conditions and effectiveness outside rigid norms. On each level, his character would confront a completely different martial arts discipline and would have to adapt his own style accordingly. A few outdoor shots were also filmed in Hong Kong's New Territories on October 4th and 26th. Unfortunately, no notes are available for these scenes, leaving unclear how these moments, which appear to be training scenes or simply camera tests, would fit into the film. Hwang In-shik, who was originally cast for the first level, is only present in these scenes. Unfortunately, there is no video material available for Taky Kimura, who was cast for the second level.

In early October, Warner Bros. was in negotiations with Golden Harvest to produce Enter the Dragon as an American-Chinese co-production with Lee in the lead role. After the October shooting days, an agreement was reached, and this opportunity for a major international breakthrough led Lee paused working on his personal project, now known as Game of Death. The plan was to resume filming in the summer of 1973. However, Lee's unexpected death on July 20, 1973, put an end to the project. Despite the unprecedented public interest, the filmed material remained unreleasd, and the market was flooded with other studios' Bruceploitation films, some of which incorporated the few pieces of information that had gradually leaked about Lee's project.

By 1976, the original material was in possession of the Lee family, but Bruce Lee's wife, Linda Lee Cadwell, sold the remaining shares of Lee's production company, Concord, to Golden Harvest. They aimed to capitalize on the continued interest in the unfinished work, but they considered the existing material commercially unviable on its own. They wanted to create a "full-fledged" film. In 1978, they hired Enter the Dragon director Robert Clouse and Sammo Hung, who was originally intended to be part of the original film and had just enjoyed success with his own directorial work, The Iron-Fisted Monk.

As usual in Hong Kong around this time, the original material was shot entirely without sound. That's how Clouse watched it, apparently without access to Lee's notes or detailed information about his original intentions. To the disappointment of many fans, the final film contained only about 11 minutes of original footage, and basically nothing of Lee's philosophical approach remained in the plot. Instead, the film was filled with noticeable doubles, scenes from other Lee films that were awkwardly integrated, and a convoluted mafia revenge story. It also included tactless footage of Lee's actual funeral and a scene where a dummy with Lee's face get his face smashed in. While it can still entertain with the right expectations, given the promising original concept, it remains a rather puzzling result.

 

Reconstructions using the Original Material of GAME OF DEATH

Considering the often less-than-optimal storage of film materials in Hong Kong, it seemed that the chapter of Game of Death was closed. However, in the 1990s, a curious discovery was made in a storage facility belonging to Lee's family. Nine out of a total of eleven film reels were found, leading to the creation of two parallel reconstructions, released in 2000 and 2001.

The preferred version for most fans is the one by Canadian author John Little, who received quasi-official approval and full access to all of Lee's notes from his estate. Many consider this version, presented as part of the documentary A Warrior's Journey, to be the closest to Lee's original vision. Unfortunately, the documentary has not been released since the DVD era. It was released separately and also included on the old special edition DVD of Enter the Dragon but was missing from later Blu-ray releases and is not part of Arrow's bonus material. The old DVD was letterboxed and had interlacing issues, making its quality rather subpar.

In Japan, Toshi Ohgushi and Toshikazu Ôgushi took on the task. They released another documentary titled Bruce Lee in G.o.D. under the label Art Port Inc.. This version includes interviews and an own re-edit with improved image quality. It runs a bit longer, but some scenes may feel drawn out due to an attempt to show as much as possible, leading to subpar pacing. This version also features a completely different, rather modern score. One advantage is that only in this version Dan Inosanto dubbed himself. This reconstruction was also available as a standalone bonus on the UK DVD by Hong Kong Legends, and Arrow Video included it (with slightly improved SD quality) under the title Game of Death: Revisited. In 2003, Artport released a revised Special Edition that had undergone further editing and was a bit shorter, representing yet another cut of the footage.

In fan circles, there have been several custom edits over the years that tried to address the weaknesses of these two main official releases. Brandon Bentley, who was heavily involved with the Arrow Video release, also created his own edit on YouTube, which leaned more towards John Little's version. However, the most attention was garnered by Alan Canvan's Game of Death: Redux. Boutique label Criterion added Canvan's reconstruction, which he created in 2019, to their US Blu-ray box set. Notably, this version features a different edit (usually slightly shorter) and re-incorporates elements from the 1978 film. For one it notably uses John Kent's voice for Bruce Lee's yells during the fight scenes, just like in the 1978 theatrical version. Additionally, John Barry's well-known score from the film is used here. Canvan later created a Redux 2.0 version, but we will only focus on the version officially released by Criterion.

It has been speculated over the years that more material may be hidden in the archives. For instance, Brandon Bentley's interview on YouTube (see 78:02) reveals that Arrow Video, in exchange with the restoration studio L'Immagine Ritrovata, stumbled upon the complete 11 film reels. Essentially, L'Immagine Ritrovata didn't really have a clue of the treasure they had at hand. So now, unlike previous restorations, this new release allowed for the material to be scanned in HD and presented in its complete form. Arrow first showcases the raw material, embedded with various background information and informative commentary by James Flower. Following this, the new reconstruction, The Final Game of Death, takes center stage.

 

Overview of all Reconstructions of Bruce Lee's GAME OF DEATH

Below is a compact summary of the six official releases that showcase Bruce Lee's original footage. Except for A Warrior's Journey, all versions run at the same speed (NTSC/Blu-ray), so the duration has been adjusted accordingly. To make a direct comparison, the documentary framing and their own credits need to be subtracted. Regarding the mentioned sound differences, it's challenging to describe them in detail, so you can refer to this scene comparison on YouTube.

 

1. Game of Death - 1978, Robert Clouse

The fights on the three levels are significantly shortened and used in a rather distorted presentation during the finale. The pagoda is essentially just a regular restaurant, and after the fight against Kareem, a Bruce Lee double continues for the final confrontation with a mafia boss.

Total Duration: 101:02 min (Arrow Video - International Cut)
Duration of Original Material: 11:07 min Pagoda scene (possibly inaccurate, as other shots were inserted briefly in between, and single reaction shots of Bruce are scattered in the surrounding scenes)

2. A Warrior's Journey - 2000, John Little

Reconstruction based on Lee's notes and considered "best known and highest regarded" according to the book by Arrow Video. Kareem and Ji dub their own voices in this version, even though it's clear they are not really professional voice actors. This version is also partly in Chinese with burned-in subtitles during dialogues and varies in image quality. Released as a standalone DVD and as a bonus on the Special Edition DVD of Way of the Dragon.

Total Duration: 104:14 min (German Bonus DVD of the Special Edition of Way of the Dragon - converted from 99:58 min PAL)
Duration of Original Material: 35:15 min (converted from 34:01 min PAL - the shortened moments of the outdoor shots featuring Dan Inosanto and Hwang In-shik during the documentary part are not counted)

3. Game of Death: Revisited aka Bruce Lee in G.O.D. aka Artport '01 - 2001, Toshi Ohgushi / Toshikazu Ôgushi

An independent reconstruction that often shows alternative takes compared to #2. It has a "rough cut feel" as the used shots mostly run longer (than necessary). Contains a modern soundtrack, including a rock version of the original theme during the final fight, and a continuous English dub throughout. Dan Inosanto dubbed himself here and according to many fans, he does a better job at it than Kareem/Ji in #2.

Total Duration: 90:20 min (Japanese DVD)
Duration of Original Material: 39:31 min (British Bonus DVD from HKL) or 39:08 min (bonus material of the Arrow Video Blu-ray - the last shot is truncated earlier in this version)

4. Bruce Lee in G.o.D. Artport Special Edition Re-Release - 2003

A new edit of #3 with a different, more retro-sounding score. Improved pacing due to shots that are now even shorter than in #2. Some alternative takes are included. Surprisingly the image quality is worse than in the previous 2001 edition and the 5.1 sound mix is rather odd.

Total Duration: 71:43 min (Japanese DVD)
Duration of Original Material: 33:57 min

 

5. The Game of Death: Redux - 2019/20, Alan Canvan

An independent new edit that somewhat resembles the 2003 Artport version. A significant difference lies in the audio track, as both John Barry's score and the voice of Bruce Lee from the 1978 theatrical version are used. More or less this tries to combine Lee's original material with the spirit of the 1978 version. It was included as an extra on the Criterion Blu-ray, and later, Canvan released a revised version 2.0 online.

Total Duration: 34:34 min (Bonus material on the Criterion Blu-ray)
Duration of Reconstruction: 31:48 min

6. The Final Game of Death - 2023, James Flower / Brandon Bentley

The only reconstruction that uses the complete film material (all 11 instead of the previously known 9 film reels), including the "log fight". It features a new dub, a retro score/soundtrack with pieces by Joseph Koo, classic sound effects, an animated title sequence, and a newly shot intro which incorporates the outdoor footage.

Total Duration: 223:03 min (Arrow Video Blu-ray)
Duration of Reconstruction: 40:08 min (excluding the intro sequence, which shows an additional 53 sec of outdoor shots featuring Dan Inosanto and Hwang In-shik)

 

THE FINAL GAME OF DEATH: Exclusive Material, Better Editing, Retro Style

First, let's summarize what The Final Game of Death is not, as indicated in James Flower's introductory words: Bruce Lee's actual film remains unfinished, and we can only speculate about the content he had planned. Only rough notes for "The big fight" (supposedly the five levels of the pagoda), "The arrest" (a likely subsequent arrest of the kidnapper of Lee's family, who forced him into the fights in the pagoda), and "The airport" (probably a reunion with the kidnapped family members) have been preserved. It remains entirely unclear how much of the actual filmed material Lee would have used in the final cut.

The last chapter before the reconstruction vividly illustrates how much the main plot remained a fragment until the end. Lee is said to have made small adjustments almost daily during the filming. For example, during the shooting of Enter the Dragon, he was preoccupied with what mysterious treasure was guarded on the top floor by Kareem. However, in the filmed material, it remains a "MacGuffin," a plot device that drives the narrative forward without providing a final explanation: Exhausted, Bruce simply walks back down the stairs. The theory that members of the Way cast, including Chuck Norris, came to the set for the additional film reels, is also mentioned, but no evidence of Chuck Norris's involvement in the two remaining reels can be found. Furthermore, there are unfortunately no additional outdoor shots that could further contextualize the filmed material from there.

However, for the first time ever, we can see the complete 123 minutes of raw material, allowing fans to inspect every snippet and the many different takes that perfectionist Lee filmed. The most exciting question, of course, is: What does the additional material from the two remaining reels offer? As mentioned earlier, the most noticeable inclusion is the "log fight" between Chieh Yuan and Dan Inosanto, now shown in its entirety. Chieh tries his luck with a huge piece of wood/staff, but is effortlessly defeated by Dan. Only a brief moment from the end of this fight, where Chieh had already been disarmed, was known until now. Additionally, the following fight between James Tien and Dan Inosanto is significantly longer, providing a much smoother introduction before Bruce Lee himself joins the fight.

The new intro segment is quite interesting as well. It starts with the rare logo of Lee's short-lived production company Concord Production Inc. and the original intro from Golden Harvest. Small touches that transport genre fans right back to that era. After that, a newly filmed scene with a slideshow is shown, introducing the theme of Lee's kidnapped family and briefly highlighting the fighters of the different levels of the pagoda. Admittedly, this part may have a touch of Bruceploitation, especially because there's yet another weirdly looking double for Bruce. However, it does effectively summarize the parts of the plot confirmed by Lee's script fragment. Moreover, for the first time, the training shots outside in the New Territories are seamlessly incorporated into the reconstruction, instead of being briefly touched upon only in the documentary appendix, as it was done in previous reconstructions. Lastly, the film ends with an animated title sequence by Gazelle Inc., beautifully done in the style of previous Lee films, with original music by Joseph Koo.

The soundtrack generally plays a crucial role in creating the feeling of watching a film from that exact time produced by exactly that studio and artistic team. Alongside Koo's tracks, other recognizable tracks (e.g. from The Fate of Lee Khan), including various sound effects from other Golden Harvest productions of that era and the characteristic yells from Lee's other works, are used. Þorsteinn Gíslason has truly created an authentic sound design. And while in contrast to previous reconstructions, the new dub does not include any of the original actors dubbing their own voices anymore, it is worth noting that it was not common for Hong Kong films in the '70s to hear any of the original actor's voices. Overall, the new voice actors and the dub in general are of good quality.

Overall, the most noticeable improvement lies in the editing. It's challenging to convey this in text, but The Final Game of Death appears much more dynamic, frequently changing perspectives in the middle of a movement, and inserting reaction shots in more suitable moments. While previous versions, like A Warrior's Journey, already showed smoother editing compared to Bruce Lee in G.o.D. (2001), this new version further enhances the overall flow. However, for purists' sake it's important to note that this is still a free interpretation, and Bruce Lee himself might have approached it differently.

Last but not least, there is some alternative material compared to previous versions, especially the version used as a basis for comparison, A Warrior's Journey. Once again, the 123-minute raw material sheds light on the perfection Lee was aiming for in his choreography. Several apparently "good" takes were available for many scenes. It's not always clear which of those Lee would have chosen ultimately. In fact, even the Artport and Redux versions sometimes used different takes as well. A very peculiar example can be found towards the end when Kareem's "lizard eyes" appear in another new variant. Instead of regular wide-open eyes, the Artport version already used a mystical take with Kareem wearing red contact lenses. This original take (see image on the right) can also be found in the raw material, but the reconstruction creates a new montage with a shot of Bruce between Kareem's red eyes.

Regarding alternative footage, it is also noticeable that John Little's reconstruction, in some instances, had significantly poorer or differing image quality and clearly has been assembled from multiple sources. The Artport reconstructions were somewhat "cleaner" in this regard, with quality deviations not being that noticeable due to color correction. However, even in these versions, a few moments from the fight with Ji Han-jae were apparently substituted with scenes from the well-known film version. With the complete original material now being restored for the first time in 2023, such limitations are no longer a concern.

If the summary provided above hasn't made it clear, the new reconstruction is highly recommended to any fan.

 

Runtime information follows the format:
A Warrior's Journey in 25fps / Final Game of Death in 23.976fps

 

Lastly, a clear disclaimer: This report doesn't really follow our usual structure. Originally, a comparison focused on the well-known theatrical version was intended, but it proved to be almost impossible because only about a quarter of the footage matches, and significant changes were made to its content. Therefore, the decision was ultimately made to only roughly outline the differences with the theatrical version and primarily compare Final Game of Death to John Little's reconstruction, which is widely considered the essential benchmark, as stated in Arrow's book and among fan communities. Additional comparisons, highlighting notable differences in the Artport and Redux versions, are still planned.

As seen from the summarized running times above, the various reconstructions from the original material do share some similarities, but they clearly differ in detail. This becomes even more apparent when looking at the duration of each individual fight, which we divided in the report. In all versions, the raw material was completely re-edited, resulting in deviations in the frame range for almost every single shot. In most cases, we have only listed differences of 0.5 seconds or more. However, please note that this is by no means an exhaustive list, and the same applies to the many variations in the soundtrack.

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Regarding the well-known theatrical version, it should be mentioned that it usually has additional shots before and after the actual fights, in which "fake Bruce" leaves the scene or goes up stairs, for example. This was necessary because in the original footage, you can still see the completely removed companions next to him or in the background. When Steiner arrives at the end and Bruce continues to Dr. Land, you obviously only see re-shot material because these two characters do not exist in Lee's original footage.


Amusingly, especially with today's (U)HD standards, it's striking how the newly shot footage with Kim Tai-jong was awkwardly edited right next to snippets of the real Lee. Background, hairstyle, wounds on the face... and the face in general: From one moment to the next one, nothing really fits together anymore.




Introduction


AWJ: 59:34-60:06

In A Warrior's Journey (= AWJ), at 59:34 with the caption "The Footage," there is a specific explanation of the found material. Lee's notes are shown, and it is explained that the reconstruction has largely used them for reference.



FGOD: 167:08-171:01

In the new documentary Final Game of Death (= FGOD) chapter 8 is dedicated to the reconstruction. It starts with a brief summary of the film's cultural impact and previous reconstructions, along with the intention behind the new edit. It is emphasized that the original film remains lost and even the following short film is only an interpretation of its own.



FGOD: 171:01-177:25

Now the actual film starts. It begins with the retro logos of Concord and Golden Harvest. A newly shot scene follows, in which someone looks at slides and provides some comments from off-screen (with a Chinese accent). The speaker welcomes Hai Tien in Korea and implies that his organization has Hai Tien's family in their custody. He should win the "game" for them, and in return, his brother and sister will be set free. The next day, he is to enter the pagoda and conquer its five levels. On the top floor, there is a valuable object that the speaker does not describe further. He emphasizes that he has already sent many fighters there, but none have returned. On each floor, a fighter awaits, whose sole purpose is to protect the top floor of the pagoda.


On the 1st floor, there would be a kickboxer, whose feet are stronger than Hai Tien's fists. Here, you can now see the original shots missing from other film reconstructions, which were filmed outside the pagoda. Hwang In-shik deals with a few opponents. Unfortunately, his involvement in the project never went beyond these test shots outside. In the following "Hall of Tigers," a fighter from the Philippines awaits, known for his dangerous sticks. Further training shots with Dan Inosanto are shown outside the pagoda. Whoever defeats him will advance to the "Hall of the Dragon," where a Hapkido master awaits. In the subsequent "Hall of the Unknown," another fighter could be found, but no one knows anything more about him. Additionally, Hai Tien would be accompanied by two men waiting outside the pagoda and two more going inside with him. The speaker also emphasizes that these companions have the prospect of a high reward if they make it to the top floor. This incentive means, in a way, "You play to win, or you die."


Then follows a custom-made title sequence, beautifully reminiscent of typical 70s creations. Along with it you hear music by Joseph Koo, who is also mentioned in the credits.




The Lost Fight: Dan Inosanto vs. Chieh Yuan


First, for a quick overview, the duration of the fight scene between Dan and Chieh in...

1. Game of Death (1978 Film Version) entirely missing
2. A Warrior's Journey: 0:13 min (60:32-60:45 on the German DVD in PAL, duration converted to 23.976 fps)
3. Game of Death Revisited / Artport '01: 0:11 min (0:09-0:20 in the bonus material of Arrow Video)
4. Artport '03: 0:12 min (28:05-28:17 on the Japanese DVD)
5. Redux: 0:10 min (1:28-1:38 in the bonus material of Criterion)
6. Final Game of Death: 2:29 min (177:25-179:54 in the main film of Arrow Video)

The first sensation in the 2023 FGOD version is the complete footage of the "log fight" between Dan and Chieh. In the old reconstructions, only a fragment of the end of this fight was visible. AWJ only included this material in full-screen with off-commentary right before the actual reconstruction. The Artport and Redux versions showed a bit more of it in the original aspect ratio, but still only a few seconds could be seen.

AWJ: 60:06-61:10

As a direct transition from the notes with off-commentary, AWJ shows a few short video clips (some from the final film, some deleted scenes), and especially set photos showing that James Tien and Chieh Yuan were still on set, facing Dan Inosanto. With a still image, it is said that Chieh would have attacked first with a stick, but Dan quickly disarms him.


Next is the first short video part, which is included in the above comparison of the durations: How Dan finishes off Chieh is only shown in AWJ with off-commentary and in full-screen. Curiously though, this shot actually starts 2 seconds earlier than in the Artport and Redux versions.


Then Dan is shown in slow motion, and the off-commentary mentions that the newly found video material is about to begin. After a fade-out, a separate title appears.



FGOD: 177:25-179:54

The material not present in all previous reconstructions has been found. Only here, you can see James and Chieh rushing up the stairs, with Chieh carrying an oversized wooden block as a weapon. This is why the scene is known as the "log fight." Dan sits unperturbed on his throne, and James watches him. The camera oans to the sticks next to Dan.
James comments: "Those red sticks look pretty cute. But still, size always wins out. Show him."
Chieh approaches Dan. He calmly reaches for his red sticks. The camera zooms in on Chieh's eyes and then shows a close-up of Dan. More reaction shots of both follow.
James: "Two little sticks. Ha!"


The fight begins. Chieh charges forward, but Dan immediately repels him. Surprised, Chieh looks back at James, who comments, "Don't let him psyche you out." Chieh tries several more times but is easily defeated each time. He leaves the huge wooden block on the ground and adopts a fighting stance. Dan also discards his sticks. Naturally, things don't go any better afterward, and Chieh is quickly brought to the ground again. He gets up and strikes a pose.


Finally, the short part that was already known: In a wide shot, Chieh tries one last time and is promptly brought down by Dan again. Interestingly, you can now even see a kick to the face in close-up.




Dan Inosanto vs. James Tien


First, for a quick overview, the duration of the fight scene between Dan and James in...

1. Game of Death (1978 Film Version): 3:44 min (82:04-85:48 on the British 4K Blu-ray)
2. A Warrior's Journey: 1:17 min (61:10-62:24 on the German DVD in PAL, duration converted to 23.976 fps)
3. Game of Death Revisited / Artport '01: 0:42 min (0:22-1:04 in the bonus material of Arrow Video)
4. Artport '03 0:39 min (28:17-28:56 on the Japanese DVD)
5. Redux 0:42 min (1:38-2:20 in the bonus material of Criterion)
6. Final Game of Death: 2:05 min (179:54-181:59 in the main film of Arrow Video)

Compared to the theatrical version, in the original material it took much longer, until Bruce takes up his trusted nunchakus. Thus, there is initially much more dancing around and some wise words from him. Generally, it is noticeable that James and Chieh are constantly standing in the background, and probably because of this, several shots were cut from the theatrical version or their presence was covered up with somewhat awkward inserts. Also, it is particularly noticeable in this section that the original Artport version feels really slow - more on this in the corresponding report. FGOD is relatively close to the brisk editing of the AWJ version but offers some nice additions here and there.

Alternative
62:24-62:30 / 181:59-182:04

FGOD uses an alternative take, like Artport, where Bruce holds the weapons differently.

AWJ 1 sec longer

A Warrior's JourneyFinal Game of Death



The following cuts between Bruce, James, and Dan are all slightly longer in FGOD.

63:41-63:42 / 183:21

Dan is seen a little earlier in AWJ.

AWJ 0.5 sec longer



64:03 / 183:45-183:46

From the shot of Bruce stretching the bamboo stick to Dan posing, FGOD is slightly longer.

FGOD 1 sec longer



64:09-64:10 / 183:52

In AWJ, a few unnecessary frames at the end of Dan's shot and at the beginning of Bruce's shot have been removed, as they slowed down the flow of the scene.

AWJ 2.3 sec longer



64:40 / 184:24-184:25

After Bruce's "deep trouble" statement, the camera lingers on him a bit longer in FGOD, while Dan knocks off-screen.

FGOD 1 second longer

Even in the shot afterwards, a few frames are in favor of FGOD.


Alternative
65:05-65:17 / 184:51-185:05

A (quite similar) alternative take, as the two dance around a bit and Dan gets hit in the face.

FGOD 1 second longer

A Warrior's JourneyFinal Game of Death



65:33 / 185:19-185:20

In FGOD, Dan continues to attack in the same frontal shot.

FGOD 0.5 seconds longer



65:40-65:42 / 185:27

In AWJ, a few unnecessary frames that slow down the flow of the scene have been removed at the end of Dan's shot and the beginning of Bruce's subsequent shot.

AWJ 2.3 seconds longer



66:06-66:12 / 185:53-185:59

Interestingly, in AWJ, a commentary from Bruce is missing here on the soundtrack, which is also noted in the subtitles. Despite clearly visible mouth movements, nothing is heard here, and no guess has been made about what Bruce said here.

FGOD has these lines as English dub: "It's a challenge, isn't it? When bamboo strikes, it's hard."
Btw, this is quite different from the Artport version: "Do you understand? This bamboo becomes a sword."

A Warrior's JourneyFinal Game of Death



Alternative
66:12 / 185:59

As Dan approaches Bruce for a moment, AWJ shows the same shot, while FGOD briefly switches to a frontal shot of him.

No time difference

A Warrior's JourneyFinal Game of Death

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