Monday, April 07, 2008

[SIFF08] Finishing The Game: The Search for a New Bruce Lee

I'm Breeze Loo!

"You've offended me, you've offended my family!"

I just cracked up so hard that my tears just rolled out of my eyes. If I were to tell you that this is one of my best experience at the SIFF to date, then you would probably think I'm out of my mind, unless of course, you've watched this movie. Actor Dustin Nguyen was on hand to introduce the movie since he had a bit part and is one of the invited guests to the festival for the Vietnamese film The Rebel, he shared that this film is actually director Justin Lin's labour of love. Those of us in Singapore would be familiar with Justin's previous movie, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (admit it, you have the Teriyaki Boyz set as your ringtone), and is now currently in production with FF4 (with the return of Vin Diesel and most of the original cast).

Finishing the Game sets itself in the wake of Bruce Lee's death, where the production of The Game of Death got hung up, pending how to move the film forward. As we now know, old footages of Bruce from previous movies, and stand-ins were used to try and complete principle photography so that it could still be released and audiences could lap it up when it is all Bruce Lee the master himself taking care of things up along the pagoda. So herein lies the premise for Finishing the Game, as a mockumentary looking for the next possible Bruce Lee stand in.

And the process of doing so is genuinely hilarious, playing to various stereotypes and a throwback to the cheesiness (in hindsight of course) of the 70s with the diverse group of actors and actor wannabes turning up for casting and auditioning. In fact, every character featured has a likeability factor, and you can't help but to laugh along, and laugh at them. The major favourite of mine is Breeze Loo (Roger Fan), a two-bit Asian actor who's a dead ringer for Lee, and the name being a mimicking of the various "Bruce Lee" incantations that erupted in the video-movie market with Lee's demise, each starring in various action movies copying Lee's signature movements.

Watching the "spaghetti" type productions starring Breeze Loo, never fails to bring on rip-roaring laughter from the audience, and the thing is, it's pretty fun! Sung Kang stars as a happy-go-lucky, always smiling Cole Kim, a struggling actor who can't shake off his smiley face, and Raja (MOusa Kraish), who thinks he's half/Chinese. Dustin Nyugen's own role in the movie, Troy Poon, is yet another actor in a fictionalized spoof of 70s detective movies. His role in Golden Gate Guns has to be seen to be believed, and that one-liner of his about doing other people's laundry, makes him a one-liner hit wonder.

But it's not all fun and laughter throughout the movie, as underlying it is a very keen look at the Hollywood of the 70s, where "coloured" folk often get sidelined, or cast to play the villains, bit roles, supporting characters and the likes, I mean, a television series like "Kung Fu" with David Carradine in the lead, speaks volumes It's not all that serious actually as it skirts around these issues, but you get the point real quickly, about discrimination and unequal opportunities.

All in all, it split my sides good enough for me to warrant a DVD purchase once it's out (has it?). And oh yeah, see if you can spot rapper MC Hammer in it too!

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