Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Special Agent Marcus Adams (Wesley Snipes) walks into a church, carrying a duffel bag filled with something and another, and wishes to speak to the attending priest (Ernie Hudson). It would seem that Agent Adams would like some forgiveness sprinkled his way for he has sinned. As far as we know Marcus hasn’t committed adultery or placed another god before Him or made any graven images of some kind… no sir… Marcus has violated commandment number six. Over and over and over again. But it’s not like these scoundrels didn’t have it coming to them in Wesley’s latest action flick ‘Game of Death’. Just so you know, we went with the Japanese movie poster on the left over there because the North American poster with the tagline ‘Winning is Everything’ has absolutely nothing to do with this movie and we can’t be a party to that. The title ‘Game of Death’ really has nothing to do with this movie either but it is the title so there’s nothing we can do about that.

So Marcus is a CIA agent sent undercover by his boss to get some dirt on the international criminal known as Mr. Smith (Robert Davi). This all seems to work out pretty well as Marcus has become a trusted bodyguard to Smith and now The Company is finally ready to take this clown down. Smith has flown into my hometown of Detroit to receive himself a cool hundred million, for what we really can’t tell you, but we know it’s illegal and we know that Marcus is on hand to bring him to justice with his crew of fellow agents following close behind on ground and in air.

Then a number of things go terribly, terribly wrong in this op. First Marcus’ trusted associates led by his good friend Zander (Gary Daniels) who, unknown to Marcus, slits his bosses throat. Not cool. Then Smith has a heart attack. Now Marcus has to make a quick detour to Detroit Receiving… that’s a hospital in case you don’t know… to try to save this guy. Problem is Marcus’ team of trusted agents, all of whom have gone rogue on us, have no idea why Marcus has changed directions and have proceed to fire upon the man which means the button on ‘Action Time’ has now been depressed.

Marcus eventually makes it to the hospital and believe me when I tell you, Marcus has a lot on his plate right about now. The flashlight cops won’t let him keep his gun, he’s

a diabetic and he needs a quick shot of insulin or he’s going to black out, and his former CIA friends are in the hospital trying to put a bullet in his head. One would think that these CIA friends of his should’ve known what a complete badass Marcus is and probably should’ve bowed out of this completely voluntary gig, I know I would have, but for some odd reason these highly trained dozen or so super agents thought they could take this guy out. Idiots. I guess we could point out they did take him out… but that’s something else that we are not going to get into.

The job for our rouge agents is to keep Smith alive long enough to get this hundred million dollars, and to further this task they have kidnapped the lovely ER resident Dr. Jones (Aunjanue Ellis) to keep stabbing my man in the heart full of adrenaline which always a good idea for heart attack victims. Job number two, continue to try and kill Marcus. Car chases, shootouts, neck snappings and the unavoidable mano a mano Daniels v. Snipes kung fu battle shall ensue.

Wesley Snipes is my main man, right? And we’re just not saying this as a lead-in to inform you how crappy ‘Game of Death’ is because in the annals of Wesley Snipes Straight to DVD action flicks ‘Game of Death’ isn’t so bad, but since Wesley sleep walks through most of these movies, the filmmakers has resorted to giving him some kind of affliction to justify his overall disinterest. In ‘Unstoppable’ he was injected with an experimental mind altering comatose drug, in ‘The Contractor’ he got a nasty bump on the head which rendered him near comatose through the whole movie and in this movie he’s a suffering diabetic. That’s ingenuity right there.

But back to ‘Game of Death’ directed by Giorgio Serafini which was… well… generic. It is an action movie, through and through, and as an action movie it gives you pretty much everything you would expect in an action movie. As we pointed out earlier there are plenty of shootouts, lots of kung fu action, car chases and fist fights galore with the majority of this action all well realized and decently presented. Our bad guys are really bad, led by action stalwarts Gary Daniels and Zoe Bell, shooting up innocent bystanders like it’s nobody’s business, our hero is above reproach and has a magical firearm that never needs reloading, our damsel in distress is lovely if not somewhat unnecessary like most damsels in distress in action movies, and the narrative driving our little action film is very simple and makes just enough sense to keep things moving along.

The problem with ‘Game of Death’, if this is a problem at this point and time, is that it doesn’t add anything even remotely unique or special to the action genre. It is a paint-by-the-numbers, straight forward, no-nonsense, easily forgotten action movie. The only thing remotely unique in this movie comes from being a Detroit native and pointing out the various landmarks that showed up since this movie did incorporate the city quite prominently.

Believe me, Wesley has made way worse than this, and we are looking at you ‘Art of War 2’ and as such ‘Game of Death’ is a solid if not uninspiring entry into the action genre. My only other issue is that Wesley was in Detroit for a week or two filming this movie and he couldn’t find the time to drop me a line. What’s up with that?

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