“What’s Surviving the Game?” is the only real response to learning that we watched this for BMT. It came, it qualified for BMT, it did not conquer. It ultimately feels a little like what streaming films are like today. Could have been (should have been?) on HBO instead of in theaters. But that is the long past. This is the present and in the present we can only watch what’s on the screen (and on any sweet, sweet DVD extras they might have graced us with).
So first and foremost I have to say that Surviving the Game is serviceable. It services the human race’s apparent need to watch humans-hunting-humans. It’s a tale as old as time (if time started in 1924) and it is a pretty straight adaptation despite the 70 year gap between source material and adaptation. Ice-T is a homeless man offered a nice sum of money to participate as a guide for a hunt. He has no experience, he exclaims, but whatevs, they are looking to help Ice-T out. Not suspicious at all. When he gets out to the secluded cabin in the wilds of Oregon he is shocked to find that all the hunters are rich maniacs. He is fortunate to have a place to sleep at night given all the scenery these rich maniacs are chewing. But alas, these aren’t just your regular Joe, scenery-consuming rich maniacs… these are rich maniacs who like to hunt Ice-T. Uh oh! So Ice-T starts his escape and through cunning and mostly a desperate desire to live, he is able to pick off the richie riches one-by-one. Just as he is about to kill the main player and make his escape he is blown up by a timed explosive in a decoy plane. Darn, looks like Rutger Hauer got away. Not so fast! What a twist! Ice-T survived and shows up in Seattle to take out Rutger before he makes his final escape.
As you can see the film is straightforward, which is nice. There is some funny stuff in there too. All the actors are way way way over the top and I’m there for it. There are also some funny random moments in the film including some pretty suspect practical effects and the fact that Hauer sets up a bomb for Ice-T at the end, but after blowing him up doesn’t seem to care that he doesn’t find a body. It’s like Hauer assumed that Ice-T was entirely obliterated by the bomb and not a speck was left… like a cartoon. No wonder Ice-T is able to nab him by the end. That’s just not good thinking by our bad guy. So overall, not bad, with some fun mixed in to boot. Before I jump into Hot Take Clam Bake, just a quick word on our Bring a Friend, Sonic Impact. I found this movie confounding, at times hilarious, and eventually a pretty good Friend. It’s a film constructed around clips from Airport 1975, but set up like a Die Hard scenario, so there is a lot of meandering about until the big action scene comes into play. My favorite was how they keep telling the main character that he should take a vacation, so for the first half of the film we see him discuss it with people, pack up his bag, drive to a travel agency only to get called into action seconds from booking the trip. The bad guy nicely hammed it up, too. So as I said, good Friend.
Anyway, for Hot Take Clam Bake I’m making the case that the man who recruited Ice-T, played by Charles S. Dutton, was actually a good guy who saw the potential of Ice-T as the hero he needed to finally put a stop to the evil cabal he became involved with. He saw through Ice-T’s seeming lack of interest in life and fall into destitution to see the man within. A man who’s superior smarts and skills could finally stop Hauer in his tracks. Hauer is even like “come on, are you sure?” but Dutton is adamant that this is the man they want… truly the most dangerous game, and in fact a game so dangerous that he would tear it all down. Sure, Dutton dies in the end, but that was the sacrifice he was willing to make. Why do you think he’s laughing deliriously after being blown up by Ice-T? The student has become the teacher and even in death he knows his plan has worked. Who else could survive a bomb blast, bury himself in the sand convincingly enough to escape detection, and then reappear hundreds of miles away to swoop out of the darkness like Batman to kill Hauer? Ice-T, that’s who, and Dutton knew it all along.
I give that Hot Take Clam Bake a rating of Scorching Hot. Patrick?
‘Ello everyone! Surviving the Game? More like Surviving this Movie?! Amirite? Who would have thought that the best adaptation of The Most Dangerous Game would star Ice-T. Wait … no, strike that, I meant “worst”. Let’s go!
- Weird movie. Based on The Most Dangerous Game, but also only a year after Hard Target starring Van Damme which is ostensibly the exact same story, all the way down to Van Damme effectively being a vagrant recruited into the game. Ice-T is basically what makes this movie unique, I suppose representing a different underclass being exploited … still feels a bit pointless.
- The testosterone on set must have been off the chain! Hauer, Busey, and McGinley are all trying to chew the scenery to such a degree that I don’t know how the director could even have wrangled them. Especially McGinley. There are moments where he’s stumbling and screeching and grabbing other actors to such a degree that I wonder if people were telling him to take it that far or whether there was no one there to tell him to chill out.
- Fun little picture though if you are into the underlying story. Feels more like a “friend” than an actual wide release, but the 90s were crazy man, and Busey at least still felt like a bankable star. Makes sense that the director openly said he regretted killing him off early.
- Interesting Setting as a Character (Where?) for Washington state, which is made explicit through several references to the beginning of the film taking place in Seattle. And honestly that is it. I think it is closest to Good in the end, just because you’ll get some mileage out of seeing Ice-T kill a bunch of people and the generic story is a classic for a reason.
- This cycle’s friend is also an Ice-T vehicle called Sonic Impact. Films like this I usually find rather boring, but for some reason this one enamored me. I think it is a combination of having watched enough mediocre/bad movies that I can recognize Sonic Impact as merely a poor man’s Turbulence mixed with a poor man’s Executive Decision. And then half the film being literally Airport 1975’s shots of an airplane flying near the Rocky Mountains. And then Ice-T spending half the film looking embarrassed that he got captured and is in handcuffs with nothing to do. All it needed was the poorly-named bad guy Jeremy Barrett to have a sweet hook … like being obsessed with poetry, or being like an accomplished mathematician or some weird choice. As it is, it’ll settle as a solid B+ friend, something I might watch once more before realizing that it isn’t worth it.
Go and check out the sequel television movie crossover event, Law & Order: SVUing the Game, detailed in the Quiz. Cheerios,