SURVIVING THE GAME (1994)

Directed By: Ernest R. Dickerson

Written By: Eric Bernt

Cinematography: Bojan Bazelli

Editor: Sam Pollard

Cast: Ice-T, Rugter Hauer, Charles S. Dutton, F Murray Abraham, Gary Busey, John C. McGinley, William McNamara, Jeff Corey, Bob Minor 

A homeless man is hired as a survival guide for a group of wealthy businessmen on a hunting trip in the mountains, unaware that they are killers who hunt humans for sport, and that he is their new prey.


At the time this might have seemed like an action film that was a fine by the dozen, but looking back it feels like it was a bit ahead of Its time.

As at the time it might have felt too basic or familiar. To a film like Jean Claude Van-Damme starring HARD TARGET. 

Casting Ice-T during a starring hot streak and then surrounding him with well-known character actors. As seemingly types though as the film goes alongside actually revealing decency or having specific reasons for their savagery and blood lust.

His casting works as he is not your typical action hero presence. So that gives him a kind of wild card status in which to impress and win over the audience. As he is the protagonist, we still don’t know exactly what to expect. 

Though race isn’t brought up it can easily be seen or interpreted. Even if the argument is over classism. As Ice-t’s character is a military vet who is homeless and most of the hunters are rich, successful white men. Racism and capitalism usually walk hand in hand. As for something to have value another must not have any. As really the only other person of color is Charles S. Dutton who helps discover him and convinces him to take the job.

The film offers plenty of surprises and double-crosses. It also offers ice-T’s character who was suicidal a reason to survive, a passion for life, and live again. 

The film comes across as a little bit more realistic in its action sequences. Which are quite impressive. As no one is an expert, some characters actually need to reload or rest. Though it never feels overplayed, overwrought, too expensive or stylish just to look cool.

The ending is a bit of a letdown by bringing up a point that is repeatedly brought up so many times. You know it will be integral later.

One of the reasons for the audience to enjoy the film is that most of the cast, the hunting party if you will, is made up of classic character actors who usually play villains. So it’s a murderer’s row hunting our hero down. Which gives the film and the lead a kind of bonafide status 

This ends up being one of the more memorable ice-t leading roles, especially in an action film. No less treated a certain way maybe because it is more contained. As far as cast size goes. 

Grade: C+

SNAKE EYES: G.I. JOE ORIGINS (2021)

Directed By: Robert Schwentke
Written By: Joe Shrapnel, Anna Waterhouse & Evan Spiliotopoulos
Story By: Evan Spiliotopoulos 
Cinematography: Bojan Bazelli
Editor: Stuart Levy

Cast: Henry Golding, Andrew Koji, Haruka Abe, Samara Weaving, Iko Uwais, Takehiro Hira, Peter Mensah, Eri Ishada, Ursula Corbero

A G.I. Joe spin-off centered around the character of Snake Eyes.

The other G.I. Joe films were over the top here this film goes more for espionage and action-adventure tone. then towards the the end it becomes a free for all of just action that becomes a little too cartoonish with real weapons. As It becomes a stunt show more than anything 

The film plays serious for the most part early on and then we get to scenes where there are tests to pass to become a member of the clan and one of them involves Other gigantic monster snakes. Those are the more ridiculous components of the previous films. Though here they only come once in a while. Instead of staying constant.

Truthfully this is a film that doesn’t need to be made. Though it Offers a new revision to the rivalry between Snake eyes and storm shadow with a whole new history. Even though it has played out or been hinted at in the previous films.

That you know is coming as soon as you see a heroic character in the all-white suit that is known to the true die-hards. 

Strangely In trying to give snake eyes a full origin story they still never address his vow of silence and not only doesn’t happen but is still never explained. I am guessing they were hoping for a hit and figured maybe a sequel could. Sort of like the studio’s own WOLVERINE franchise outside of the X-Men films of the time. Even setting up a possible love interest.

The film obviously keeps calling for a sequel. Even though most good action films usually have a memorable villain. Here half the time there is so much infighting you forget who the real villain is and when you do he is so unimpressive and more a means to an end. He is instantly forgettable. The only villain of interest here is the baroness played by Ursula Corbero and she is more of a right-hand woman. Left with little to do 

The only star in the film or of any recognizable star is Samara Weaving, Who plays Scarlett and comes in a supporting role, but more an extended cameo and comes off more like Black Widow from the Marvel movies. Here she appears and seems to know mroe than she is letting in and is the coolest in the room.

As before she is even introduced this film plays like a random Asian-themed action-adventure Tale. Once she appears it ties the film more to the franchise and then starts to get a little more ridiculous. As it goes from personal vendetta between clans an all-out global terrorism threat.

As Henry Golding here just seems to be building his stardom from previous films like CRAZY RICH ASIANS which made him a star. Here this is one of his first leading action hero roles.

The film is stylish and tries not to call Too much attention to itself though at times it does feel like overkill as it just comes across as too smooth and ends up feeling dull. 

Understandable why This film was made like Wolverine one of the mroe recognizable characters and popular but also trying to jump-start the franchise which other characters should you choose to have an origins tale that the audience would want to see. This shows mroe of a last grasp for the franchise rather than a reboot.

As it gives the audience somewhat, what they want, but never seems to realize part of the fun of the character was like The Joker never truly knowing their past and making up their back to the story in their head and any clue felt like a new revelation. It is what was both it seemed revolutionary when it came to the FRIDAY THE 13TH reboot and what ruined it for audiences. We like the magic and the tricks and think we want to know how they were done, but once it Is, it is now spoiled and can’t look at it as magical and worse now feels more basic. 

The truly only badass character was the older female head of the family seen as she was the only one who barely needed a weapon to take our horses if enemies only using her fan where everyone else is using blades or guns 

Action movies often have more victims than horror but we believe the horror of being worse for society. Why because in horror the killing seems more personal and we see them in great detail and watch as the film seems to delight in these aspects whereas in action It’s brief but then again in action, it shows more nonchalance towards not only life but individual ones  making them seem more EXPENDABLE 

Both people are more expendable in a war between two characters that is personal. So everybody pays the price for two egos. 

Grade: C-