Surviving the Game (1994)

"Think of it as foreplay." - Rutger Hauer to Gary Buser

SURVIVING THE GAME stars Ice-T as a homeless man, hand-picked to play
yet another variation on THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME. They hunt, he runs,
and it was all done better last summer in HARD TARGET. Honestly, the
most exciting thing about this "action" film is its level of political

The notion of wealthy hunters hunting homeless people is in questionable
taste to begin with and SURVIVING THE GAME is clearly intended for
action-fans only. But even the appeal of teaming of hulking heavies
Rutger Hauer and Gary Busey (who play two of the hunters) with violate
rapper/actor Ice-T fades fast in the less-than-capable hands of director

Ernest Dickerson (known, among other things, for his impressive work
with Spike Lee) is *not* an action director. Every fight scene is a blur
and every chase has zero zest. He's fine with scenery and set-ups, but
he can't choreograph worth a damn.

As scripted by Eric Bernt, SURVIVING THE GAME is less testosterone than
talk. Gab gab gab go the character who spend the first action-less hour
speaking only in cliches. Ice-T to Rutger Hauer: "Never underestimate a
man who has nothing to lose." Sure, legs get blown off and crotches get
kicked, but, again, the action is so muddy that every fight looks like
the last one.

Also, the script never explains just *how* the hunters hunt. One
character makes a comment about a trail that "Stevie Wonder could
follow." Unfortunately, neither the script nor the visuals relate what
an "obvious" trail looks like.

The only cast member with charisma is Rutger Hauer. (No surprise there.)
He plays an outdoors outfitter who is responsible for hiring the hunted.

F. Murray Abraham is, inexplicably, still working after starring in both
LAST ACTION HERO and BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES and his presence-- as a
father taking his son "hunting"-- amounts to even less than what he
added to those turkeys. Gary Busey plays Chief Scenery Chewer and his
best bit is a monologue that sounds like warmed leftovers from John

Ice-T wears a wig with dreadlocks and acts like himself.

NOTE:  SURVIVING THE GAME is considerably less violent than the subject
matter suggests. One scene shows a character with "amputated" legs and
that's about as gruesome as it gets.  Too bad.

BOTTOM LINE:  Even diehard action-fans should avoid SURVIVING THE GAME,
a film that commits the most heinous crime known to the genre: it ain't

Grade: D+

Copyright 1994 by Michael J. Legeros

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