Posted on Friday, November 09, 2007 at 05:00 PM
Finishing the Game
By: S. Tran
Starring: Roger Fan, Sung Kang, Dustin Nguyen
Directed by: Justin Lin
Running time: 88 min
Exit the Dragon
Well our new baby is seriously hampering my movie watching. This means that I had to review something I could watch at home. Luckily, "Finishing the Game", a new film by Justin Lin made its debut on pay per view at the same time as it opened in limited release.
Likely you will have to watch this film on video as it probably won't open in wide release. This was a little project Lin wanted to do after he completed The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift.
Its a mockumentary based on a fictional account of a film maker in the 70's trying to finish Bruce Lee's last film using a stand in and the footage Lee was able to complete before he died. Most of the film is based around the auditions to try and find a replacement for Bruce Lee. If you have seen "Best In Show" then you will understand what Lin and his crew were trying to do with this movie. Unfortunately they don't do it nearly as well.
Part of the problem is that there isn't enough material to even fill out the relatively short 88 minutes for this movie. Some bits are pretty funny for a few minutes but they run out of steam pretty quickly. It may be just the premise wasn't that funny or maybe the writers ran out of ways to make it funny. For instance one running gag is a white guy who is trying out for the film. It turns out he is half Asian and identifies with his Asian side much more. An interesting angle, but it goes nowhere really.
Another part of the problem is that Lin decided he wanted to bring back all his friends to act in the movie. While I thought some of the actors were pretty good in Lin's first big film "Better Luck Tomorrow" this doesn't mean they are the best choice in every movie Lin does. His loyalty to his friends is admirable but this can sometimes lead to an inferior product. Sung Kang, who also appeared in Tokyo Drift, is so far out of his element in this movie that it is almost painful to watch him sometimes. His performance here is even worse than in Tokyo Drift. It doesn't seem as though he really has much range beyond quiet, semi-mysterious guy.
To be fair there wasn't much of a budget for the film and Lin probably couldn't hire A-list talent, but it would have been nice to see other actors at least get a shot at some of the roles.
As you can guess the low budget also means the film isn't Hollywood quality. It doesn't look bad though and certainly doesn't affect the film as much as the story and acting.
All in all there are some funny moments in the movie and it was a funny premise. However when you try and stretch out a funny 15 minute sketch into a feature length movie you get a long mildly funny 88 minute sketch. Wait for the video to get your Kung Fu comedy fix.
2.5 out of 5 stars.