The notorious 1978 film Game of Death offended all Bruce Lee fans by shamelessly attempting to profit off his posthumous celebrity (the final film was a chop-socky chop suey of several minutes of real Lee fight footage, Lee look-alikes, clips from other Lee movies and even a still photograph!). Years later, director Justin Lin has returned to avenge the spirit of Bruce with Finishing the Game, a parody of Hollywood’s lensing of Asian Americans and its failed attempt to replace the irreplaceable icon.
A mercurial mockumentary, Finishing The Game picks up soon after Bruce Lee’s death, as the producers of Game of Death move forward with the ill-advised task of finishing the film and finding a worthy stand-in for the greatest martial arts star of all-time. Attempting to fit the bill are a slew of wannabes and has-beens including an insecure country bumpkin (Sung Kang), a TV flameout (Dustin Nguyen), a very un-Chinese looking Eurasian, a South Asian stunt man/doctor and a knock-off named Breeze Loo (Roger Fan). They are left in the hands of an ineffective agent (MC Hammer in a surprise cameo), a clueless silver-spoon-fed director and his overzealous casting director (scene stealer Meredith Scott Lynn). The casting process hilariously deteriorates as the obvious truth dawns; nobody has what it takes to fill the yellow track suit.
After a couple of studio jaunts, Finishing the Game is a return to independent filmmaking for Lin who lampoons the crass opportunism of the actors and producers who tried their best to profit from an icon’s demise. Through its spot on 1970s production design (think lots of burnt orange), slapstick humour and deadpan performances, Finishing the Game subversively comments on the unfulfilled hope and promise of a major (Asian) American breakout – one that is still being sought by and for Asian Americans.
– Aram Siu Wai Collier