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+

VIRTUOSITY (1995)

Directed By: Brett Leonard

Written By: Eric Bernt

Cinematography: Gale Tattersall

Editor: Rob Korbin & B.J. Sears

Cast: Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe, Kelly Lynch, Stephen Spinella, William Forsythe, Louise Fletcher, William Finchter, Kevin J. O’Connor, Costas Mandylor, Kaley Cuoco, Mari Morrow

When a virtual reality simulation created using the personalities of multiple serial killers manages to escape into the real world, an ex-cop is tasked with stopping its reign of terror.


The director of THE LAWNMOWER MAN seems to be obsessed with virtual reality as he has made another film based on technology.

That special effects at least makes some kind Of sense though dates the film that is supposed to be futuristic and looks historically dated

This is Russell Crowe’s first big blockbuster film although he is playing the villain and is rather demented and charismatic. He is dressed more like an evil yuppie which at the time seemed to have been the go-to villain archetype. He is memorable throughout as he espouses to be having Fun and comes off more a horror movie villain with a sly sense of humor 

This is a strange film even for a big studio film. It is one of the first to feature Denzel Washington in more of an action setting. Which at the time was why I went to see the film and felt excited. 

Science fiction film that seems dated using technology that was cutting edge then but still seemed on its way out 

There is a curious performance by Stephen Spinella playing the inventor of Russell Crowe’s character who is just creepy as dramatic for no real reason throughout the film only to lamely come back towards the end of the film

I would talk about action sequences but they are more like continuous chase sequences throughout. Those are entertaining but hardly memorable. Where the future is made to look so technical that it feels ridiculous that it is just dressed up in the modern-day. 

The film is Over the top, amped up and hyped by a pounding soundtrack. That never seems to rest. Though the technical elements seem intriguing watching it now. It comes off a little more outdated.

I will admit to going to see this film in theaters and I left with the same questionable conclusion. I was entertained but did I like the film? I recognized it wasn’t good by any means. Though I would watch it again just not enthusiastically. Now I watch the film amazed that it was made as at times it is laughably bad.

Grade: D