Judge David Johnson sucks at the Game of Death. Maybe he needs better sneakers?
They picked the wrong man to cross.
Wesley Snipes returns to the world of straight-to-DVD action moviemaking with this, a mediocre thriller highlighted by some nifty pugilism. It's no Passenger 57, but really what is?
Snipes is Marcus Jones, a CIA agent and a world-class hitman who finds himself in the middle of some serious betrayal. A ruthless arms dealer (Robert Davi) is in his custody, but almost immediately some bad guys with scary automatic weapons try to scoop him up. Marcus's CIA Spidey-sense kicks into high gear and he utilizes his impressive arsenal of Action Hero Moves to foil the plot.
A little digging into the identities of the assailants reveals that a group of his fellow agents is behind the attack and their endgame is to score a multimillion dollar payday and…look, if you're going to swipe the name of a legendary action film and use it for yours, make it memorable.
That's the problem with Game of Death: it's completely forgettable and doubtlessly destined to evaporate into the ether. If you've read my reviews of mediocre action films before—and I've ensconced myself in their loving embrace over the years—then you've almost certainly read a variation of this sentiment before. Call me a lazy writer, but that's the truth. So many of these cookie-cutter actioners hit the shelves, most of which star former big screen heavy-hitters, that they merely vaporize; if there's nothing that stands out, it's just another log tossed onto the Beat 'Em Up Bonfire.
Which isn't to say Game of Death is a bad movie. It's well-staged, the plot is serviceable, the fight scenes are shot with restraint and can be fairly bruising, and it sports a well-earned R. In addition, Snipes looks no worse for wear and accommodates himself well in the hand-to-hand moments, which director Giorgio Serafini wisely opts to shoot straight up so we can at least see what's going on (I'm not sure I'm as much of a fan of the quick cutting black and white video effects that sporadically pop in during gunshots and face punches).
But nothing happens here that you haven't seen before or that you'll scramble to tell your friends about. Sorry, Wes. It's nice to have you back, but I'm barely remembering the name of this movie.
The DVD: a gritty but solid 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, 5.1 Dolby Digital, and 20 minutes worth of behind-the-scenes featurettes.
Not Guilty, but the world has moved on Mr. Snipes.
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