To hear Vincent Brazil tell it, as played by Jean Claude Van Damme, he’s just a weapon. Yes, he goes around killing people… slitting throats, the occasional head shot, poison tipped arrows and whatnot… but it’s not like he wants to kill these people or gets any joy out of killing these people. These people chose to die when they chose the lives that they lead, and if they’re unlucky, somebody has chosen Brazil as the weapon of their demise. He’s an okay guy, as far as he’s concerned. Personally, I’d probably disagree with Brazil’s assessment of his life, but then he might determine that my way of life should be targeted for some of his special weaponry. The weaponizing of Vincent Brazil is on full display in the action thriller ‘Assassination Games’.
The gangster Polo (Ivan Kaye) is a bad man. Seriously, there are few worst than this cat. Just ask lethal operative Roland Flint (Scott Adkins) who went undercover to expose this organization a couple of years back. When Polo found out about this, he paid Flint a visit, beat him near to death and then made Flint observe as he and his crew gang raped his wife into coma. So when Flint gets the word that Polo is getting let out of jail, he has determined that Polo’s time on this earth has expired.
He’s not the only one that wants Polo dead however. These evil Interpol agents also want Polo dead, but more accurately, they want the money Flint stole from their dirty asses and know that releasing Polo will bring Flint out of hiding. They’ve also hired the sour and dour Brazil as a shooter to take out Polo as well, even though I’m not exactly sure why since the plan to have Flint kill Polo and then kill Flint seems solid enough. Even though killing Flint would mean that the money they want back is lost forever. Hey, it’s an action movie so a few nonsensical loose ends here and there is par for the course.
As expected our two assassins cross paths and screw everything up for each other. Eventually they meet and attempt to beat each other to death. Eventually they come to the conclusion that maybe they should work together. Flint just wants revenge, Brazil
just wants the exorbitant fee. What Brazil doesn’t know is that he’s made a mortal enemy out of Polo, even more so than Flint, and Polo wants his head. Also, Brazil has been forced into caring about someone, an abused but absolutely adorable prostitute who lives next door (Marija Karan), and if we’ve learned one thing from watching ‘Assassination Games’, caring for people is very unwise in the assassination game.
A bad situation for Flint gets worse, Polo gets crazier, the Interpol agents have gone completely nuts, and when Brazil said he didn’t care, my man wasn’t joking. He really doesn’t care. Until they make him care. Bad news for the bad guys.
Apparently ‘Assassination Games’ received a limited theater release which is disappointing for me personally since one the few theaters that received this release was right down the street. How come nobody tells me these things because I would’ve gone. I would’ve enjoyed watching Jean Claude on the big screen for the first time in a long time and watching Scott Adkins on the big screen for the first time ever. I doubt it would’ve made ‘Assassination Games’ any better or worse, but it’s the principal of the thing. I get no love.
Regardless, directed by Ernie Barbarash, ‘Assassination Games’ is about as straightforward as an action movie gets, only times two. We have two unstoppable, stoic, hardcore super heroes, we have two sets of beyond evil bad people who will need killing and we have two damsels in distress who will need saving. In this case, two is better than one because the two are Jean Claude Van Damme and Scott Adkins. Though neither man will ever be accused of being great actors any time soon, the director does play to their strengths. Van Damme’s muted, deadpan delivery works well here, giving his character more menace and also provides this fairly depressing film with a little humor here and there. And even at this late stage in his career, note that two of his adult children are in this movie, the old man still takes care of himself and can movie fake fight with the best of them. We’re still waiting for that one role for Scott Adkins, the one that’s going to take advantage of his immense physical gifts, while setting him up as a solid action star leading man… this wasn’t it… but I know it’s out there for him. That being said, we do enjoy watching the man fake movie fight. ‘Ninja’ probably should’ve been that movie for Adkins, but right now he seems to do his best work when paired with another action star.
Barbarash certainly isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel here. A revenge themed story and one that’s short on details and continuity, a tale of redemption, beyond evil bad guys, plenty of action, lots of Van Damme and Adkins doing what we expect them to do though Adkins probably got shortchanged a little bit for his action set pieces, and lots and lots of dead evil dudes. I didn’t quite understand the color draining sepia toned filter applied over all of the scenes, I guess to emphasize how depressing everything was supposed to be, but it’s been my experience when cutting off someone’s head… the redder the blood the better. That’s been my experience.
If you like these kinds of movies, you’ll probably enjoy this one. I did. It doesn’t do anything special but it did what we expected and it did it fast and competently.