The Role: Hai Tien, a retired martial artist whom Korean gangsters force to infiltrate a heavily guarded pagoda and swipe a coveted object. (Exactly what the object is has been lost to time, which we'll get to below.) The pagoda is multiple stories and packed with warriors, each one specializing in a different martial arts style and each one tougher than the last.
The Tragedy: Bruce Lee perished suddenly and unexpectedly at just 32 years old in July 1973. The cause of his demise was a cerebral edema, AKA a swelling in the brain caused by excess fluid. Lee did have a recent history of brain health issues - his fatal edema followed another edema two months earlier - but the exact cause of the edema is unknown. Doctors have theorized that it was anything from sensitivity to Equagesic, a tranquilizer and analgesic he took earlier that day; sensitivity to hash, which he'd also consumed that day; or heatstroke.
How The Movie Dealt With It: Today, Lee is remembered as perhaps the greatest martial arts movie star of all time. But his life was cut short just as he was getting an opportunity for crossover success. Lee wrote, produced, directed, and starred in Game of Death. He had already completed up to 100 minutes of footage for the film when Warner Bros. approached him with an opportunity to star in Enter the Dragon. Since it was the first martial arts film produced by a Hollywood studio, and because it had an unprecedented budget of $850,000, Lee had to accept the offer. He passed days before Enter the Dragon premiered, and before he could finish Game of Death.
Enter the Dragon director Robert Clouse was hired to finish Game of Death, and immediately ran into problems beyond Lee's absence. Some of the footage was lost, as well as major plot details, like the identity of the object inside the pagoda. Clouse still tried to cobble together a film using footage from Lee's other movies. When he needed new footage, he used various techniques to replace Lee, but none were particularly successful. Some scenes were completed using body doubles in disguises like heavy makeup, unconvincing fake beards, or a motorcycle helmet. For one scene, a cardboard cutout of Lee was used. Although the film was technically finished and released, many fans don't consider Game of Death complete.