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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Finishing the Game (review)

Bruce Lee died before he finished his dream project, The Game of Death, and now, Taiwan-born, California-raised filmmaker Justin Lin extrapolates around that cinematic tragedy with this new mockumentary, which debuted at Sundance earlier this year, is opening in arthouses across the U.S. over the next couple of months, and is also available at home via IFC on Demand. When the director of The Game of Death is determined to finish the film with a Lee lookalike, the chaotic casting process is captured by unseen “documentarians”… but there’s little intriguing or surprising about the actors and other artists under the glass. Lin keeps desperately trying to bring an Asian vibe to American film, and keeps failing — he has yet to capitalize on the promise of his debut, 2003’s Better Luck Tomorrow, a crime caper revolving around high-achieving Asian-American high-schoolers. He fails again here, with a movie that is sporadically funny in some of its details but never coheres into the comedic thesis on Hollywood superficiality, racism, and cultural pride that Lin (who also cowrote with Josh Diamond) seems to be aiming for. Even its invocation of the 1970s is frustratingly shallow, resorting to funny wigs as stand-ins for attitudes that should be obsolete yet are still in play today.

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MPAA: not rated

viewed at home on a small screen

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