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Bruceploitation Reviews

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@DrNgor  Great reviews! I watched The Real Bruce Lee at the end of 2003 on VHS (incidentally it was from watching this that ignited my whole interest in martial arts films in general) and Dragon Lee's mannerisms in it were some of the most hilarious moments I've seen anybody do on film ever. I remember laughing uncontrollably for a good 15 minutes after the film had ended and simply coming to terms with what I had just saw. But yeah, the film overall was quite weak and the awful English dubbing (bad even by the standards of the day I reckon) just made it funnier. The highlight for me was the end fight between Lee and Gruber which lasted a good while and reminds of the end fight in The Big Boss between Bruce and Han Ying Cheh. It was still very fun to sit through I must say!

 

@Fist of the Heavenly Sky  Good review on Image of Bruce Lee, I watched this two years ago and remember being quite disappointed, I really wished Bolo would have lasted close to the end but his character's death just appeared random to me. The plot was quite cliched and I just think that Bruce Le might have done just as good a job here as Ho Chung Tao.

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On 28/09/2017 at 12:32 PM, DrNgor said:

Fist of Fury 2 (1977)

 (aka Chinese Connection 2)

 

 

One odd thing that links Fist of Fury 2 and 3 - both have Bruce Li's buddy be played by an actor who appeared as a "Japanese" fighter in the original - Sham Chin Bo in 2 and Hon Kwok Choi in 3.

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Hello my dear friends, and a very happy new year to you. As know I am a huge fan of the Bruceploitation subgenre, so here is my verdict on the 1975 Shaw Brothers classic "The New Game of Death" 

When we think of 'bad ' kung fu movies, we all tend to have different ideas. Some think of those terrible Asso Asia films which were mostly rejected Korean movies bought and released as new movies for the Western market, often given terrible dub tracks and with some very common faces, including Dragon Lee  and Hwang Jang Lee, or perhaps you may be old enough to remember the period Bruce Lee passed and Bruce Lee imitations quickly became common place in the martial arts film market in the West, with low budget drive in theatres screening films such as "The Clones of Bruce Lee" and "Bruce Lee's Secret", or even higher budget attempts to cash in on Bruce Lee's passing such as Lo Wei's "New Fist of Fury", which starred a young Jackie Chan in one of his more forgettable roles, and for good reason too. These films are notoriously hated by fans, and seen as milking Bruce Lee's legacy. However, this review is for a movie which not only belongs to the Bruceploitation category, but is also a surprisingly entertaining film with some top notch cinematography and a cracking soundtrack. Enter Ho Chung Tao (better known as Bruce Li), a then 25 year old Taiwanese martial artist who had been a soldier in the Taiwanese military and trained in gymnastics for years. He had little experience in filmmaking, and landed himself in the lead role for The New Game of Death (AKA Goodbye Bruce Lee: His Last Game of Death), his first major starring role. This film was directed by Lin Ping, who also wrote and played an extra in the film. Lin had little experience in film directing before this, as can be seen in the film's rather unusual but still perfectly coherent narrative. The film has pretty high production values too, being produced independently in Taiwan and financed by Shaw Brothers studio. The film stars Ho Chung Tao as a young man who unwittingly gets wrapped up in a money scam. When he refuses to give the cash back, the bad guys kidnap his girlfriend and hold her hostage in the Tower Of Death. Once there, he is given two options. Watch his girlfriend get thrown off the top or fight various martial artists on 7 different levels to win his girlfriend back. The plot is inspired by Bruce Lee's unfinished Game of Death movie, and being produced in 1975 many believed that Game of Death was never going to be completed. After all, it wasn't until 1976 that the rights of the completed footage had been secured by Raymond Chow's Golden Harvest company, and this movie was also the reason why the 1978 version of Game of Death bears virtually no resemblance to the story Lee had come up with for the film, but that's a story for another day. The martial artists Ho is pitted up against are a mix of American and Chinese martial artists, who had mostly gone into obscurity after this film which is a damn shame because this film showcases their skills superbly, all choreographed by Ho Chung Tao himself. In a sword duel with a Japanese challenger on the fourth floor of the tower, which has some great sword skills on display as well as some physical comedy involving the swordsman going insane and Ho leaving, which is refreshing for a Shaw production, not to mention the brilliant Nunchaku battle with the Indian challenger. The final boss is played by none other than the legendary Lung Fei, who many will remember as 'Betty' from Steve Oedekerk's Kung Pow: Enter the Fist, a film which uses footage from Wang Yu's Savage Killers. As expected, Ho's great acrobatic skills combined with the feirce bone breaking blows from Lung Fei are very satisfying, as the end duel juxtaposes the Ho trying to save his girlfriend as thugs attempt to throw her over the Tower while trying to fight to save his own life in a suspenseful duel containing some great hand on hand combat. The film's soundtrack has an awesome funk track which greatly matches the upbeat 70's tone of the film. This film is the ultimate homage to the Game of Death phenomenon and arguably Ho Chung Tao's best work, a diamond in the rough. It's just a great shame that this awesome film was obscured in the shadow of the dreaded Bruceploitation subgenre, as Ho has some real talents to showcase. Another film worth checking out after this one is The Chinese Connection II with Ho Chung Tao, another personal favourite of mine with some surprisingly good acting and hard hitting fight scenes.

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15 hours ago, TheKungFuRobber said:

Hello my dear friends, and a very happy new year to you. As know I am a huge fan of the Bruceploitation subgenre, so here is my verdict on the 1975 Shaw Brothers classic "The New Game of Death" 

Just an FYI, I re-located the thread here from the January & February Mutual Review thread.  Great review!

15 hours ago, TheKungFuRobber said:

Some think of those terrible Asso Asia films which were mostly rejected Korean movies bought and released as new movies for the Western market

Not sure what you mean by 'rejected Korean movies'.  The Korean movies Asso Asia distributed internationally weren't rejected, they were original Korean productions shown in Korea, however were cut up and re-edited by Godfrey Ho and co. for international distribution, often with a different storyline and always dubbed into English.

15 hours ago, TheKungFuRobber said:

This film is the ultimate homage to the Game of Death phenomenon and arguably Ho Chung Tao's best work, a diamond in the rough.

This statement makes me curious to check this one out, as I've always overlooked it in the past.  My favourite Ho Chung Tao movie has always been 'The Gold Connection' (sometimes known as 'The Iron Dragon Strikes Back'), closely followed by 'The Chinese Stuntman', so if the action in 'The New Game of Death' tops both of them, then count me in.

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I had to watch New Game of Death in three sittings as I just couldn't get through it all at once.... and I like Enter the Game of Death, so I'm not adverse to GOD rip-off flicks.

Edited by TibetanWhiteCrane

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18 hours ago, TheKungFuRobber said:

so here is my verdict on the 1975 Shaw Brothers classic "The New Game of Death" 

According to the HKMDB, this is a Taiwanese flick. Is it Shaw or Taiwan, or both?

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1 hour ago, TibetanWhiteCrane said:

I had to watch New Game of Death in three sittings as I just couldn't get through it all at once.... and I like Enter the Game of Death, so I'm not adverse to GOD rip-off flicks.

Well, that's a polarizing opinion.:tongueout

12 minutes ago, DrNgor said:

According to the HKMDB, this is a Taiwanese flick. Is it Shaw or Taiwan, or both?

Answered in @TheKungFuRobber's review dude - 

19 hours ago, TheKungFuRobber said:

The film has pretty high production values too, being produced independently in Taiwan and financed by Shaw Brothers studio.

 

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45 minutes ago, One Armed Boxer said:

Well, that's a polarizing opinion.:tongueout

While it's good to hear @TheKungFuRobber enjoyed the movie a lot, I wouldnt recommend it personally. Unless you are a Ho Chung Tao completist, the best part of the film is Candys King Of Kung Fu song.

Great review by the way  @TheKungFuRobber.

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8 hours ago, One Armed Boxer said:

Just an FYI, I re-located the thread here from the January & February Mutual Review thread.  Great review!

Not sure what you mean by 'rejected Korean movies'.  The Korean movies Asso Asia distributed internationally weren't rejected, they were original Korean productions shown in Korea, however were cut up and re-edited by Godfrey Ho and co. for international distribution, often with a different storyline and always dubbed into English.

This statement makes me curious to check this one out, as I've always overlooked it in the past.  My favourite Ho Chung Tao movie has always been 'The Gold Connection' (sometimes known as 'The Iron Dragon Strikes Back'), closely followed by 'The Chinese Stuntman', so if the action in 'The New Game of Death' tops both of them, then count me in.

I'd actually like to check out The Gold Connection. I've already seen The Chinese Stuntman and really enjoyed it, but I haven't seen The Gold Connection. Where can I locate a good version on Home Media? 

Also, I am aware that many of the Asso Asia movies were original Korean productions, some of which are actually very good movies if you can hunt down their native language counterparts. I really enjoyed 'Hard Bastard' with Hwang Jang Lee. Asso Asia made a huge hackjob of that movie for sure. Unfortunately though many of the original versions of these movies are lost, which is a shame because there are some decent kung fu movies among them. 

Edited by TheKungFuRobber

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On 28/09/2017 at 12:32 PM, DrNgor said:

Fist of Fury 2 (1977)

 (aka Chinese Connection 2)

 Starring: Bruce Li (Ho Chung-Tao), Tien Feng, Lo Lieh, Chan Wai-Lau, James Nam, Jimmy Lung, Sit Hon, Lee Kwan

 Director: Jimmy Shaw, Lee Tso-Nam

 Action Director: Tommy Lee

 

I've noticed Lee Tso-Nam is credited as director on several websites, but he isn't credited at least on the English prints, just Jimmy Shaw.

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3 hours ago, Killer Meteor said:

I've noticed Lee Tso-Nam is credited as director on several websites, but he isn't credited at least on the English prints, just Jimmy Shaw.

I thought Jimmy Shaw was a different guy, as Ho Chung Tao says producer Jimmy Shaw gave him the English name Bruce Li. In his Top Fighter interview, now I know that just an alias for Lee Tso Nam.

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On 04/01/2018 at 11:57 PM, TheKungFuRobber said:

I'd actually like to check out The Gold Connection. I've already seen The Chinese Stuntman and really enjoyed it, but I haven't seen The Gold Connection. Where can I locate a good version on Home Media? 

Also, I am aware that many of the Asso Asia movies were original Korean productions, some of which are actually very good movies if you can hunt down their native language counterparts. I really enjoyed 'Hard Bastard' with Hwang Jang Lee. Asso Asia made a huge hackjob of that movie for sure. Unfortunately though many of the original versions of these movies are lost, which is a shame because there are some decent kung fu movies among them. 

The best DVD of Gold Connection was from a company called EVG - it's called Iron Dragon Strikes Back.

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THE GOLD CONNECTION was released on VHS by Trans World Entertainment as THE IRON DRAGON STRIKES BACK back in the day...

IronDragon.jpg                     

Edited by ThunderScore

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On 10/11/2017 at 8:27 AM, De Ming Li said:

@Fist of the Heavenly Sky  Good review on Image of Bruce Lee, I watched this two years ago and remember being quite disappointed, I really wished Bolo would have lasted close to the end but his character's death just appeared random to me. The plot was quite cliched and I just think that Bruce Le might have done just as good a job here as Ho Chung Tao.

Apologies for the very very belated reply. And I concur; if there's one major saving grace to the flick is that Ho Chung's performance was very much genuine and not-stilted. For once he played a character that wasn't a pre-set archetype based directly on Bruce Lee's characters. For this same reason, I'd imagine it's also why the movie comes off as more cheap than usual, as if the studio deliberately set aside very little to no money for them to work with. There's just precisely no proper set pieces to speak of in the movie, it's almost as if they actually scoured the city for random places to make shoots.

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Fist Of Fear,Touch Of Death

Quite possibly the most brazen Bruceploitation film ever,and it's a Western Movie.! Hated by most,i actually find great entertainment value here-the plot, set around a Madison Square Garden Fighting tournament to find Bruce Lee's successor lends itself to martial arts personalities playing themselves and hilarously telling outright lies about their relationship with Bruce. Apparently he taught Aaron Banks the "Touch Of Death" and they spent a lot of time training and complementing each other 😉 Adolph Caesar broke many stories about Bruce apparently and Ron Van Clief reckons they were great friends (did Ron & Bruce ever meet?) Bill Louie plays Kato with a tache and The Hammer Fred Williamson keeps getting mistaken for Harry Belafonte and makes no attempt to disguise his disdain for the movie he's appearing in. Then you've got extended sequences from Invincible Super Chan supposedly showing Bruce's great grandfather in action. They've also quite cleverly dubbed an old Child movie of Bruce's to develop a story line about his dad preventing him from having anything to do with Karate ! In one hilarious exchange the brother of the girl Bruce has the hots for comes round to warn his father that he doesn't want Bruce seeing the girl any longer only for the dad to respond with an accusation about the shy girl banging the delivery boy 😁 This is a public domain movie and as such has had countless DVD releases at dirt cheap prices, thankfully the print they all use is widescreen. Crazy Ass movie,check it out!

Interesting interview with the Director Matthew Mallinson here

https://willsloanesq.wordpress.com/2016/11/02/an-interview-with-matthew-mallinson-director-of-fist-of-fear-touch-of-death/

 

 

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2 hours ago, saltysam said:

Fist Of Fear,Touch Of Death

Quite possibly the most brazen Bruceploitation film ever,and it's a Western Movie.! Hated by most,i actually find great entertainment value here-the plot, set around a Madison Square Garden Fighting tournament to find Bruce Lee's successor lends itself to martial arts personalities playing themselves and hilarously telling outright lies about their relationship with Bruce. Apparently he taught Aaron Banks the "Touch Of Death" and they spent a lot of time training and complementing each other 😉 Adolph Caesar broke many stories about Bruce apparently and Ron Van Clief reckons they were great friends (did Ron & Bruce ever meet?) Bill Louie plays Kato with a tache and The Hammer Fred Williamson keeps getting mistaken for Harry Belafonte and makes no attempt to disguise his disdain for the movie he's appearing in. Then you've got extended sequences from Invincible Super Chan supposedly showing Bruce's great grandfather in action. They've also quite cleverly dubbed an old Child movie of Bruce's to develop a story line about his dad preventing him from having anything to do with Karate ! In one hilarious exchange the brother of the girl Bruce has the hots for comes round to warn his father that he doesn't want Bruce seeing the girl any longer only for the dad to respond with an accusation about the shy girl banging the delivery boy 😁 This is a public domain movie and as such has had countless DVD releases at dirt cheap prices, thankfully the print they all use is widescreen. Crazy Ass movie,check it out!

Interesting interview with the Director Matthew Mallinson here

https://willsloanesq.wordpress.com/2016/11/02/an-interview-with-matthew-mallinson-director-of-fist-of-fear-touch-of-death/

 

 

Lol. You forgot to mention the scene where one of the contestants gets their eyes poked out in the ring, what a whack movie!

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Had myself a Brucesploitation weekend:

Enter the Game of Death (1978) - This is probably Bruce Le's best full-on Brucesploitation flick, even if it doesn't make a lick sense. In the days of the Japanese occuptation, some Chinese guy has a name list or some other secret document that both the British and the Japanese want. Moreover, a group of freedom fighters led by Yeo Su-Jin (The Secret Rivals; The Hot, the Cool and the Vicious) also want it. So they bring Bruce Le onto their team after his cousin is raped by Japanese baddie Kawasaki (Park Dong-Yong). To get the document, Le must enter a pagoda full of different fighters, including a monk armed with butterfly swords (Lee Hoi-San), a snake fist fighter who uses real snakes as weapons, and a pair of fighters dressed in all white and all black (one of them is Chiu Ching-Ling, of Kung Fu Hustle). Later on he fights Bolo Yeung and a contingent of black and Causasian martial artists, including a young Steve James. The Pagoda sequence makes up the second act, with the first act introducing the characters and giving us a lot of Bolo Yeung fight action in the form of an extended tournament sequence. The third act is a succession of fights between Bruce and the various international fighters. I've criticized some of his movies for being a bit too repetitive in the action department, but there are so many quirky fighters on display here that Le, who choreographed the fights himself, keeps things reasonably varied. The film also gets points for getting a lot more out of Bolo Yeung than many of the old school films I've seen him in.

 

Duel with the Devils (1977) - Despite not being released until 1978, I'm guessing that Game of Death was well-known enough in Hong Kong that by 1977, filmmakers were already trying to cash in on it. This isn't *quite* a Brucesploitation film per se--Dorian Tan Tao-Liang has his own distinct screen fighting style--but it does end with a pagoda sequence. Basically, a bunch of Japanese soldiers invade Tan's house, kill his family and kidnap his wife. He becomes of something of a Robin Hood character, teaming up with big guy Chen Fu-Hung and Angela Mao, who plays the daughter of the local police chief. Some of these early scenes of Tan stealing money remind me of later films like The Iron Monkey and Hero of Swallow. We discover that his wife (Doris Lung, in a non-fighting role) has been married off to a Japanese general. She kills him and herself is killed. Tan must scale the pagoda to get her ashes. Inside, he fights a European fencer, a pair of muscular wrestlers, a samurai and finally a karate fighter. The fighting is okay, but Tan Tao-Liang has had better showcases for his kicks. Angela Mao gets a few boots in, but her role is mainly a glorified cameo.

New Game of Death (1975) - A mere two years after Bruce Lee's death, we already had a film capitalizing on Bruce's unfinished passion project. This one would make a good companion piece with Dynamo, in which Bruce Li is essentially playing himself, at least for the first 10 minutes. Ho Chung-Tao plays a martial artist who discovered by a producer and invited to complete Bruce Lee's unfinished film, Game of Death. The next 70 minutes is dedicated to what the filmmakers envisioned that film would be. In this film within-a-film, Bruce Li plays a martial artist who gets mixed up in a scheme to launder money from the mob, getting caught between a gangster (Lung Fei) and a crooked shipping magnate. His fiancée is kidnapped, and Bruce Li must fight his way up to the top of a pagoda to save her. Standing in his way are: a pair of kung fu fighters, a samurai, a karate fighter, a Caucasian wrestler, an Indian nunchaku expert, an African-American boxer and Lung Fei wielding a bullwhip. The action is okay at best; Ho Chung Tao has done better work in other movies. But there is a lot of fighting, so undemanding Brucesploitation fans may get their fill here.

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4 hours ago, Killer Meteor said:

I think the guy people think is Steve James is actually Bobby Samuells.

James would have been 26 at the time. EtGoD is listed in his IMDb film credits.

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On 1/27/2019 at 7:23 PM, DrNgor said:

Had myself a Brucesploitation weekend:

Enter the Game of Death (1978)This is probably Bruce Le's best full-on Brucesploitation flick, even if it doesn't make a lick sense. In the days of the Japanese occuptation, some Chinese guy has a name list or some other secret document that both the British and the Japanese want. Moreover, a group of freedom fighters led by Yeo Su-Jin (The Secret Rivals; The Hot, the Cool and the Vicious) also want it. So they bring Bruce Le onto their team after his cousin is raped by Japanese baddie Kawasaki (Park Dong-Yong). To get the document, Le must enter a pagoda full of different fighters, including a monk armed with butterfly swords (Lee Hoi-San), a snake fist fighter who uses real snakes as weapons, and a pair of fighters dressed in all white and all black (one of them is Chiu Ching-Ling, of Kung Fu Hustle). Later on he fights Bolo Yeung and a contingent of black and Causasian martial artists, including a young Steve James. The Pagoda sequence makes up the second act, with the first act introducing the characters and giving us a lot of Bolo Yeung fight action in the form of an extended tournament sequence. The third act is a succession of fights between Bruce and the various international fighters. I've criticized some of his movies for being a bit too repetitive in the action department, but there are so many quirky fighters on display here that Le, who choreographed the fights himself, keeps things reasonably varied. The film also gets points for getting a lot more out of Bolo Yeung than many of the old school films I've seen him in.

 

Duel with the Devils (1977) - Despite not being released until 1978, I'm guessing that Game of Death was well-known enough in Hong Kong that by 1977, filmmakers were already trying to cash in on it. This isn't *quite* a Brucesploitation film per se--Dorian Tan Tao-Liang has his own distinct screen fighting style--but it does end with a pagoda sequence. Basically, a bunch of Japanese soldiers invade Tan's house, kill his family and kidnap his wife. He becomes of something of a Robin Hood character, teaming up with big guy Chen Fu-Hung and Angela Mao, who plays the daughter of the local police chief. Some of these early scenes of Tan stealing money remind me of later films like The Iron Monkey and Hero of Swallow. We discover that his wife (Doris Lung, in a non-fighting role) has been married off to a Japanese general. She kills him and herself is killed. Tan must scale the pagoda to get her ashes. Inside, he fights a European fencer, a pair of muscular wrestlers, a samurai and finally a karate fighter. The fighting is okay, but Tan Tao-Liang has had better showcases for his kicks. Angela Mao gets a few boots in, but her role is mainly a glorified cameo.

New Game of Death (1975) - A mere two years after Bruce Lee's death, we already had a film capitalizing on Bruce's unfinished passion project. This one would make a good companion piece with Dynamo, in which Bruce Li is essentially playing himself, at least for the first 10 minutes. Ho Chung-Tao plays a martial artist who discovered by a producer and invited to complete Bruce Lee's unfinished film, Game of Death. The next 70 minutes is dedicated to what the filmmakers envisioned that film would be. In this film within-a-film, Bruce Li plays a martial artist who gets mixed up in a scheme to launder money from the mob, getting caught between a gangster (Lung Fei) and a crooked shipping magnate. His fiancée is kidnapped, and Bruce Li must fight his way up to the top of a pagoda to save her. Standing in his way are: a pair of kung fu fighters, a samurai, a karate fighter, a Caucasian wrestler, an Indian nunchaku expert, an African-American boxer and Lung Fei wielding a bullwhip. The action is okay at best; Ho Chung Tao has done better work in other movies. But there is a lot of fighting, so undemanding Brucesploitation fans may get their fill here.

Agree, These movies all make a good companion to Lee's Game of Death and deserve (at minimal) remastered Blu-ray/DVD releases to go side by side with Game of Death. The Funny thing is as wacky as it might be, the action does hold up and you could probably do a Godfrey Ho and chop these up with Robert Clouse's Film and make a better coherent Game of Death Film. 

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4 hours ago, TheFlyingPanda said:

Agree, These movies all make a good companion to Lee's Game of Death and deserve (at minimal) remastered Blu-ray/DVD releases to go side by side with Game of Death. The Funny thing is as wacky as it might be, the action does hold up and you could probably do a Godfrey Ho and chop these up with Robert Clouse's Film and make a better coherent Game of Death Film. 

Which I did and made my own "Game of Death 2.5"....includes sequences from both GH films & Enter the Game of Death...and actually works! Lol

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On 2/1/2019 at 7:06 PM, TheFlyingPanda said:

Agree, These movies all make a good companion to Lee's Game of Death and deserve (at minimal) remastered Blu-ray/DVD releases to go side by side with Game of Death. The Funny thing is as wacky as it might be, the action does hold up and you could probably do a Godfrey Ho and chop these up with Robert Clouse's Film and make a better coherent Game of Death Film. 

New Game of Death has had two different releases on home video - the US/UK disc from the English language version, and a HK disc from the longer Chinese version - so the materials are definetly around still. Not sure what the ownership situation is these days.

The funny thing is the English version opens with the awesome

 

Whilst the Chinese version uses

 

 

Wasn't there a widescreen German release of Duel with the Devils on DVD?

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