Hey folks, Valkor here. And I'm finally getting around to taking a look at the second Wesley Snipes film I wanted to cover – Game of Death. It was supposed to be a back to back with The Detonator, but that simply didn't come into fruition; which is ok, because we're here now. And Game of Death, while it started out great, ended up flat. Check it out.
In Game of Death, once more Snipes plays a CIA agent, this time his name is Marcus. And he's on an undercover mission acting as a bodyguard to protect his client, an arms dealer named Smith (Robert Davi). But things go all kinds of wrong when the team Marcus was working with decide to go rogue and try to assassinate Smith. Yup his peoples have turned against him - to the tune of 100 million dollars. Now Marcus is out to not only protect his client, but to stay one step ahead of the bad guys, lead by Zander (Gary Daniels) and his second Floria (Zoe Bell – Angel of Death).
Much of the film takes place in a Detroit hospital where Marcus starts picking off agents who've infiltrated the place one at a time. The action then moves to Redvale, where the money exchange is supposed to happen. And that's when things really start to get messy as Zander has not only taken Smith, but the doctor who was attending to him.
Game of Death had much potential, however there are quirks that keep it from being as good as it should have been. But let's not start there, we begin with…
I'll say one thing about Snipes, the man knows action and he definitely has the moves; tons of gun fights and car chases strewn about, clearly grabs your attention. I also love his "all business" attitude – no jokes, no smiles, no flirting, just keep it simple and keep it straight to the point. I also give props to that ending, which works perfectly, going full circle from the opening, where Marcus is redeemed of his past sins. But back to the action; the film, as a whole, feels like it has potential to be a great video game. The way Marcus dips, dives, sneaks up on bad guys, all of it screams a kick ass video game! But this is where the buck stops, because now we enter…
The film opens and ends with Marcus confessing his past sins with a preacher (played by Ernie Hudson). Since everything in between is like a flashback, we have no suspense, some tension as he tries to stay ahead of the baddies, but when it comes right down to it, we know how it all will end – right there in that church, because that's how it started. Second, are we really supposed to believe that one man can fire a gun that many times and not reload? I know we're supposed to check our brains at the door when it comes to films like this, but one can't help but think that a reload should be happening at some point, (he eventually gets a gun that runs out near the end of the film). But that's just petty. Third, the film could have been shaved a few minutes, bringing it down from its 86 minute high horse. Some scenes – such as the shootout between Marcus and Floria, went on way longer than it should have. Was it so that Zoe Bell could get some talk time? Come on, Boba Fett had all but two lines and look how popular he is? Fourth, there were scenes that left me befuddled. For example, the baddies have knocked out Marcus, killed a nurse, made it so that Marcus was the one shootin up the place and the local authorities are called to the scene. When Marcus awakes, he simply slips out of the hospital, steals an ambulance, and drives off. No cops anywhere!! They didn't even roll up as he left. WOW!! Fifth, all the pointless, aimless shooting – there's just too much of hitting nothing. This isn't G.I. Joe! And finally the end battle between Marcus and Zander was just meh! Why? Because Snipes comes across as indestructible; it's how I felt about Liam Neeson in Taken, but he eventually took some abuse. Marcus takes his hits, but he keeps on walkin. And when he fights Zander, he takes a few shots, but nothing that fazes him and he defeats Zander with ease.
Game of Death should be at best, a rental only. As an action film, it has its moments of cool, but overall I'd pass on a second viewing. Though I appreciated the stunts, it's the story that hold it back. And out of TOV 5 stars, I give Game of Death a 2, mainly for the action but not much else.