The director who almost co-directs ’72 GAMEJuly 16 2016 at 7:56 AM
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Many Bruce Lee’s fans are unaware that Bruce in fact, wanted a director to co-direct his ‘72 GAME. This director was Walter Chung Chang-Hwa (aka Jeong Chang Hwa or Cheng Chang Ho), a South Korean director (worked in early 70s HK industry) who become well known for his directorial work in “King Boxer” (starring Lo Lieh & Li Ching) - the first internationally successful HK Kung-Fu film just before Bruce Lee’s films broke into the U.S. and European markets.
During an interview in 2012, Walter Chung confirmed that Bruce indeed planned to invite him to co-direct GAME in 1972 but he missed the opportunity due to his hectic film schedule and his initial objection of filming another director’s incomplete movie. Before Bruce’s death in 1973, Bruce re-invited him to co-direct part of GAME in S.Korea. Everything was planned and Bruce had even discussed the GAME’s storyline, his ideas and shooting schedule with Walter Chung. Unfortunately, Bruce’s untimely passing shattered the filming plan of GAME and other future working opportunities.
Research shows that the above claims of Walter Chung’s are indeed genuine. Bruce told the HK reporters that he respected Walter Chung and admired his seriousness and professionalism in his high quality directorial works. Also, Bruce was impressed with his competency in creating great atmosphere and installing realism in his action movies.
According to Raymond Chow and HK press (Commercial Press dated 31st Jul ’73), Bruce admired Walter Chung’s “King Boxer” and said he would like to work with him in a movie if given an opportunity. Bruce made that statement while he was filming FOF. Subsequently, Bruce was going to shoot his directorial debut – WOTD. He initially wanted Walter Chung to help co-direct but coincidentally, Walter Chung had gone to S. Korea to make “The Devil’s Treasure” (starring Nora Miao, Hwang In-Shik and Sammo Hung) for a very long period of time. After Bruce completed his WOTD, Walter Chung had still yet to finish his shooting in overseas.
Then, Bruce began shooting his second self-written movie - GAME and half way through, Walter Chung returned to HK finally. Walter Chung showed Bruce the raw footage of his new film - “The Devil’s Treasure.” Bruce was impressed and commented that it had surpassed the highest standard of the HK Mandarin films. As Bruce was the script writer, director and main actor for GAME, he told Walter Chung that he felt quite exhausted after directing the first half of GAME and hoped Walter Chung could help to wrap up the other half of GAME which was intended to be filmed in S. Korea. Initially, Walter Chung felt that since Bruce had already shot GAME half way, then, it was really unnecessary for him to replace Bruce as the director (probably Walter Chung was worried about the coherence of the film).
Still, Bruce hoped to work with Walter Chung in an action film. But things changed as later on, Hollywood invited Bruce to make ETD. As it was far more an urgent task, Bruce thus, temporarily shelved his plan of cooperating with Walter Chung and halted his self-directed GAME half-way through. Bruce then started making ETD for Warner Bros.
Upon wrapping up ETD in April 1973, Bruce liaised with Walter Chung again about co-directing GAME in S.Korea. This time round, it seemed Walter Chung did not deny Bruce’s invitation. Also, by this time, Walter Chung had left Shaw Bros and joined Raymond Chow’s GH. It seemed like the chances of his collaboration with Bruce was very high. Bruce had also discussed with Walter Chung over the GAME’s script together for many times and had come to a ‘CONCLUSION’ for the movie. On the other hand, Walter Chung said he had even prepared a new script for Bruce.
It was called “Big Battle With The Black Panther.” He completed it in early July 1973. Bruce had gone through this script and was very satisfied with it. It was intended to film after GAME. Unfortunately, Bruce died shortly after that. So, “Big Battle With The Black Panther” was shelved permanently as Walter Chung thought it was very difficult to find someone to replace Bruce.
Due to their good relationship plus Bruce’s original intention to invite Walter Chung to co-direct the second half of GAME, thus, many HK people speculated that the job of the unfinished GAME would land on Walter Chung’s shoulder after Bruce’s death on 20th July 1973.
As for the stand-in for Bruce, the HK reporter thought that Hwang In-Shik might be a good choice. Hwang’s TKD fighting style bore some similarities to Bruce’s JKD kicks. Also, Bruce liked his kicking style and had paid great attention to this martial artist while he was alive. After inviting Hwang to play a villain in WOTD, Bruce and Hwang had become good friends and sparred with each other whenever they had a chance.
HK celebs felt that Hwang’s performance and expression in “The Devil Treasure” was very much influenced by Bruce, especially his pose, stance and expression before the fight.
After Bruce’s death, Walter Chung was interviewed by HKTVB (Source: HK Commercial Press dated 1st Aug 1973). He revealed some inside info that before Bruce’s passing, Bruce and him had been secretly discussing and preparing to finish the unfinished GAME as well as getting to shoot for a new movie. Unfortunately, Bruce passed away and it was a shame that the renowned action director had no more chance to work with the No. 1 HK action star.
Before his death, Bruce once expressed his deepest regret for not being able to work with Walter Chung much earlier. Never had one expected these words became reality.
So, it all seemed like the probable candidate for GAME’s director was initially Walter Chung before Raymond Chow finally decided to get ETD’s director, Robert Clouse to continue shooting the unfinished GAME in 1977, probably due to commercial and international market reasons.
Photos of Walter Chung Chang-Hwa: http://postimg.org/image/fiu4owzn5/
The Forgotten Director - Walter Chung Chang-Hwa - LJF on Jul 16, 2016, 7:58 AM
Re: The director who almost co-directs ’72 GAME - Billy on Jul 16, 2016, 2:06 PM
Wow! - Julian on Jul 16, 2016, 4:26 PM
Nice one!!! - jkdragon on Jul 16, 2016, 7:03 PM
Great info, thks! NT - Fred on Jul 17, 2016, 10:32 AM
Re: The director who almost co-directs ’72 GAME - Nick Clarke on Jul 18, 2016, 4:18 PM
- Amazing! - Doleyman on Jul 19, 2016, 6:25 PM