Hollywood fail. Yes. Bruce Lee’s first three films are each better than this hunk of bejeweled shit. Most notably, it shows how talented Lee was as a director (Way of the Dragon) compared to Robert Clouse. But then we get the message that Lee was an “uncredited” director on this film. Is it a reference to the fight scenes and their staging? It seems, rather, that Lee merely directed the opening sequence of the film under consideration.
Back to Clouse then. Perhaps his other films were better, but this one really misses the mark. All of the special details which made The Big Boss, Fist of Fury, and Way of the Dragon such wonderful films are generally missing here.
Don’t get me wrong: there are great moments within. When dealing with a talent like Lee, there is always something salvageable. Yet still, it is mind-boggling to me that the addition of major studio backing (Warner Bros.) only served to dilute the power of what Lee had been steadily building through his filmography.
But of course that would all end on July 20, 1973 when Lee died (just six days before Enter the Dragon premiered in Hong Kong). Lee was in Hong Kong to dine with Lazenby. George Lazenby. The two intended to work together. Lee met Raymond Chow at 2 p.m. to discuss his next film Game of Death.
Cerebral edema, they say. Had occurred as recently as two months prior. Seizures and headaches. Mannitol.
A headache on the day of his death led to Equagesic (aspirin and meprobamate). Analgesic/tranquilizer.
Swelling of the brain… Was his death really an allergic reaction to the tranquilizer component of Equagesic?
A sad day. Eleven days later his pallbearers included Steve McQueen, James Coburn, Chuck Norris, and George Lazenby.
Yes, there seems to be some dispute between the doctor in charge of autopsy (Donald Teare) and Lee’s doctor in Hong Kong. It doesn’t really add confidence to the conclusion of the former to note that he (Teare) was recommended by Scotland Yard. This was, of course, during the 156 years which Britain ruled Hong Kong as a colony (ending in 1997).
Had Lee eaten cannabis or hashish? Was this the true cause of his death? Some have claimed that Lee did this regularly to relieve the stress of fame.
Dr. Peter Wu, who had treated Lee two months prior to his death, called Dr. Teare “an expert on cannabis.” Hmmm…
Teare’s conclusion was that the Equagesic had killed Lee.
I do find it suspicious that Lee died just six days prior to the Hong Kong release of this film. The $850,000 film would go on to rake in $200 million by 1992. Less than three weeks after his funeral in Seattle, the film premiered in the U.S.
Clouse would go on to cobble together footage of Lee and a couple of stand-ins for the 1978 release Game of Death. It is interesting to note that the plot of Game of Death involves an international martial arts film star struggling against a racketeering syndicate. What is more, this particular plot element seems to have not existed when shooting was done prior to Lee’s demise. Perhaps Clouse redeemed himself in code???