'Finishing the Game' Review: Who is the Next Bruce Lee?
Finishing the Game starts off right after Bruce Lee’s death, with a group of filmmakers intending to finish The Game of Death, but in order to do that they must find a worthy replacement for Bruce Lee. What follows is a circus of egos, naiveté, and hilarity. Justin Lin, better known for his Fast and Furious movies directs this mockumentary with flash and style, fully transporting us to the 70s. A lot of mockumentaries often use this format to cut costs, and although I doubt that Finishing the Game was a particularly expensive movie, it’s evident that they used their budget very well. The production design, the hair and make-up successfully make this seem like a piece shot in the 70s while avoiding the easy joke of making fun of the era.
The movie deals with a group of amateur actors who hope that The Game of Death is their big break into stardom; all of them with their own story. Mainly, the movie deals with ego: Some of the characters are egotistical, others have a crushingly low self-esteem. Regardless, this is what always gets them in trouble and the movie gets a lot comedic mileage out of this. The performances are excellent, with everyone fully committed to the story and the character. Another quality of the film is that it has a huge heart. Sure, it’s constantly making fun of the characters and their faults, but it allows them to be human. We see how they change and how these circumstances affect them and the people closest to them. We are made to care about these characters just as we are made to laugh at them. This is thanks to a very varied cast that includes the likes of Roger Fan, Mousa Kraish, Dustin Nguyen, Bella Thorne, Monique Curnen, Sam Bottons and surprisingly, MC Hammer and Ron Jeremy.
Unfortunately, this movie suffers one of the problems I keep finding in these kinds of movies and that is that it lets itself meander for too long. Although this movie has a better set dramatic goal than Fear of a Black Hat , certain moments feel gratuitous, as if they were there to pad out the running time. And unfortunately, not exactly every joke lands the way it should. Some of that may be my own fault; I’m not as well-versed on the 70s and martial arts filmmaking as I’d like to be, and certain moments in the film feel like they depend on that kind of knowledge of Bruce Lee’s work and of films of the 70s. But the movie is not inaccessible in any way, in fact most of the jokes come out more of the situation and the characters rather than from referencing movies of the 70s. Finishing the Game has its flaws, but none of them hinder the many laughs the movie has to offer. It’s fun to watch and surprisingly directed. There may be better mockumentaries, but this one works.
Final Verdict: Watch It