DescriptionBruce Lee's Iconic Jumpsuit from His Final Film, Game of Death. When Bruce Lee began production on Game of Death (1978) in the early 1970s, it was with the intention of creating a showcase for the martial art style he'd created -- Jeet Kune Do, "the Way of the Intercepting Fist" -- and the principles behind it. The cast included such talented martial artists as Danny Inosanto, James Tien, Ji Han-Jae, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in a story about a retired champion coerced into retrieving a mysterious item from a forbidding pagoda controlled by the Korean underworld.
During filming, Lee was given the opportunity to star in Enter the Dragon (1973), the first kung fu film to be produced by a Hollywood studio, with a budget unprecedented for the genre. It was an offer he couldn't refuse and one that would plant him firmly in the American mainstream. Unfortunately, Lee died of cerebral edema just three weeks before the film's release.
At the time of his death, some 100 minutes of footage had been shot for Game of Death, and Lee had already made plans to resume the filming. Eleven minutes worth of footage was used for the final version, with the plot changed to that of a young actor who is disfigured by a bullet and left for dead after refusing to knuckle under to a local crimelord. The rewrite allowed for the use of look-alikes, stunt doubles, and archival footage, and footage of Lee's actual funeral was worked into the final film as well.
Though ultimately an incomplete work, it stands as a cult classic, and this yellow-and-black tracksuit which Lee wore in the film quickly became a trademark image for the actor, one featured prominently in photos, posters, and other promotional and documentary material. It is one of a few worn by Lee during filming, arguably the most famous martial arts costume, on par with Superman's cape and Indiana Jones' fedora. Quentin Tarantino dressed Uma Thurman in a similar costume for many of her scenes in Kill Bill Volume 1, and other versions have appeared in Shaolin Soccer, The Last Dragon, and Revenge of the Nerds, as well as in numerous video games, TV shows, and music videos.
This jumpsuit was given to Mel Novak, who played the assassin Styx who shoots "Lee" (actually one of Bruce's doubles) in the face early in the film. Costume comes with letter from Mel Novak describing how he acquired Bruce Lee's costume on the set of the film; also included is a photo of the suit, inscribed by Novak as being Bruce Lee's costume.
Perhaps the single most recognizable piece of memorabilia attached to Lee's legacy, the costume is in Very Fine to Excellent condition with a few smudges and one foot strap re-sewn on by hand. (In almost all of Lee's fight scenes in Game of Death, one can see that the black stripe on his left leg keeps twisting to the left and right while he is fighting, while the stripe on the right leg stays parallel to his body on both the inside and the outside of the foot. The re-sewn left foot strap was possibly torn loose during a fight scene and not repaired until after filming concluded, explain the twisting of the left leg stripe.) Lee's stand-ins, as well as several of the actors playing henchmen, wore yellow jumpsuits with black stripes in the film, but only Lee's had black stripes on the inside of the arms.
Displayed on a 5' 7" mannequin (the same height as Lee), this is a fascinating, unique, and highly desirable must-have item. There is, arguably, no greater martial artist than Bruce Lee, and this is undoubtedly his most famous costume.
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