FINISHING THE GAME

4 Stars
Year Released: 2007
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 88 minutes
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Throughout my film watching life, there has always been the occasional movie that is so clever, so ingenious, that after I watch it, I can’t help but obsess over the fact that I didn’t think of it. Jealousy and envy completely overwhelm me, and it takes me a while to come to terms with the fact that I didn’t come up with the idea first. Justin Lin’s “Finishing The Game,” is exactly one of those films. The premise was so golden and in front of our noses for so long, it’s amazing that is has taken this long for someone to do it. I’m still upset that it wasn’t me.

Justin Lin is back with his stock company from “Better Luck Tomorrow,” as he creates some of the most outrageous characters we have seen in a long time. Set in the 1970’s, “Finishing the Game” is a mockumentary, which follows a production company in its pursuit to find the next Bruce Lee. Well, actually they are trying to find the next Bruce Lee stand-in so that they can finish his final film, “Game of Death.” See what I mean here? The documentary film-crew follows one of the most absurd audition processes, this side of a VH1 reality show, and the eclectic cast of characters all pursuing the role. Lin has always had a very subtle sense of humor when it comes to his films. With this script, co-written by Josh Diamond, Lin swings for the fences, and ends up hitting you right in the gut.

Like all documentary style comedies, “Finishing the Game,” lives and dies by its characters. Without giving too much away, one of the actors going out for the role is a brilliant Bruce Lee knock-off character named Breeze Loo, played by Roger Fan. The star of 14 films including “Fist of Fuhrer.” Breeze Loo is auditioning for the role because “If I was the one that died, I know Bruce would have done the same for me.” Another character is the half-Chinese, mostly white Tarrick Tyler, played by McCaleb Burnett of “Annapolis,” who spends a great deal of time being an activist against the oppression of his Chinese Brothers. MC Hammer, Dustin Nguyen and frequent Justin Lin collaborator, Sung Kang, round out this wonderful cast, as the auditions proceed and the heir to Bruce is found.

While being intensely funny, the film sometimes rings very true as to how Hollywood would handle a project like this. “Finishing the Game,” is less about Bruce Lee, and more about how minorities, specifically Asians, are treated in the industry. Justin Lin always enables his viewers to gain perspective of the Asian American condition. While not as in your face, as it was in “Better Luck Tomorrow,” the messages conveyed here about the Asian struggle in Hollywood, are prevalent, and at times, a little unnerving. Because the film is set in the 1970’s he can throw around inflammatory phrases like “Yellow” and “Chink” in effect to the way people spoke back then. The characters in this film don’t even bat an eye when they hear these things. It was all part of Hollywood then. How much of it that remains part of Hollywood is why Justin Lin continues to make films like these.

“Finishing the Game” will be running in a limited release at the end of October. It is well worth checking out, not just for fans of Bruce Lee or Justin Lin, but anyone that wants to be entertained. If you miss this movie, you’re going to wish you saw it. If you get a chance to see it, you’re going to wish you thought of it first.



Posted on October 17, 2007 in Reviews by
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