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Surviving the Game
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19 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

It's Mason!

7/10
Author: TheScottman from United States
5 February 2006

I like this movie, it's not the best action movie, but is very good. The movie doesn't have the best acting and the writing and the beginning is so-so, but it picks up and gets a lot better as the movie goes on. If you ever feel like watching a solid action movie, I say pick this one up. Or if you just want to watch crazy Gary Busey act like Gary Busey.

This movie is about a homeless man (ICE T) that loses everything twice. Then takes a job with some business men (Rutger Hauer and Charles S. Dutton) to help hunt in a isolated place. Ice T soon finds out that they are hunting a deadlier game...

This movie is well worth the rental fee. You might surprise yourself and like it.

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16 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Good action film with a perfect cast

9/10
Author: Teemu J. Päiste from Finland
6 April 2000

There are a few effective concepts in action films which are used over and over again. "Surviving the Game" uses one which was over 60 years old when the movie was made and still works like a charm. Made in 1932, "The Most Dangerous Game" is a movie about a group of people who are hunted for sport. Over the years this concept has been successfully used in big films like John Woo's "Hard Target" (which premiered less than a year before this film) as well as in DTV-films like the Lorenzo Lamas-actioner "Final Round".

The formula works. Although these films rarely offer anything new (you pretty much know the ending before the film has even started), they are very entertaining if the hero is someone who you want to win and the villains are suitably evil. "Surviving the Game" fills this order and throws in some energetic action sequences directed by Ernest R. Dickerson (I also enjoyed his "Bulletproof" a lot).

Ice-T is the hero here. When the film starts, he has no money, no family, no friends and is ready to kill himself. But when he receives a job as a hunting guide from a wealthy businessman (played by Rutger Hauer), he wants to put his life in order again. But after a good meal where Ice meets the rest of the hunters (including Gary Busey and Charles Dutton), the hunt begins and he suddenly realizes that he's the prey. Now, he must use all his strength and wit to survive.

The cast is perfect. While there are no huge stars, these people know the genre and obviously had a great time filming this movie. And there isn't any fault in the production values either. There are beautiful sceneries, a good score by Stewart Copeland and some neat stunts. The script by Eric Bernt (Virtuosity, Romeo Must Die) creates some quite interesting villains and the dialogue, while not perfect, works reasonably well. Luckily Bernt knows that he's writing an action film and doesn't even try to include any deep relationships or hidden meanings in his script.

At the end of the day, this is a good action film which is guaranteed to entertain a fan of this genre for 90 minutes. It's not the best action film ever but it's definitely above-average. This one gets an 8.

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20 out of 27 people found the following review useful:

Modern version of the Most Dangerous Game, where a human is hunted for sport.

Author: Brad K. from Wisconsin
6 August 1998

Entertaining movie, especially for the fans of the short story, The Most Dangerous Game. Rapper/Actor Ice-T (Richochet, New Jack City) is a homeless man hired by a bunch of rich people to help them in their hunt. Soon he realizes that he is the prey. The rich hunters are led by Rutger Hauer (Nighthawks, Mr. Stich). The hunters are equipped with different types of guns and smaller vehicles, while Ice-T is forced to use his street smarts to beat them in the secluded wilderness. The other hunters include Gary Busey (Point Break, Lost Highway), F. Murray Abraham (Amadeus, Mimic), Charles S. Dutton (Rudy, Alien 3), and John McGilney (The Rock, Nothing To Lose). This is a fast paced movie, although the first half hour is mainly character development for Ice-T. It is very entertaining, the script's dialogue is fairly poor, but who cares in an action movie. Ice-T does a good job at making you want him to win. Rutger Hauer, Charles S. Dutton, F. Murray Abraham are all good at being evil, but the best performance of the bad guys is John McGilney who has an extra reason to want to kill a homeless man. The movie is a solid hour and a half of entertainment, but don't be expecting anything more.

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11 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

The ultimate survival movie?

8/10
Author: (Vomitron_G) from the Doomed Megalopolis of Blasphemous Technoids
4 December 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Now I won't go as far as saying that it is the ultimate in survival-action (I think DELIVERANCE still ranks at number 1), but damn this movie rocks! I personally think it kicks more ass than RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD. As a matter of fact, wouldn't it be fun to have John Rambo an Jack Mason test their survival skills and see who wins? I haven't seen HARD TARGET yet (I'm not much of a Van Damme fan even though I'm from Belgium), but it can't get much better than this, no?

I'll spare you the plot, everybody seems to know it anyway.

I remember when going into this movie the first fifteen minutes (regardless the intercut scenes of a man being killed in the woods) I was thinking: "What's this? Another lame getho-drama with Ice-T playing a homeless bum? You gotta be kiddin' me!" Then Rutger Hauer comes in, playing it cool, doing the proposal. Interesting. Five minutes later the seven man are in the cabin in the woods eating porc. Amusing. Another five minutes later the hunt begins, ergo, the fun and violence start!

Dear people, when you watch this (type of) movie, please forget about minor unrealistic details like "Why does a city-boy like Jack Mason take the job as a hunting-guide in the first place?" (Heck, I'll even give you an answer: The man's got nothing to lose!) or "This type of shotgun is not able to cut down a tree that size" (I even asked myself that question for a second. Maybe it's got altered bullets. Who knows what these crazy man-hunting psycho's cooked up for the hunt?). Anyway, my point is: you don't ask yourself these kind of questions for this type of movie.

The fast-paced action and the violent killings are all above average and the hunt itself is competently shot, but what makes this movie even more pleasant to watch, are the actors and their fine performances. Ice-t is fun to watch, delivering his lines in that well-known nigga-slang of his. And the torment the poor man goes through makes you really want him to win the game. Then there's Rutger Hauer. I tell you: He's the man! He injects his role with such a cold-hearted sadistic pleasure which I haven't seen him do since THE HITCHER. Excellent! (On a personal note: If they can make Arnold Schwarzenegger a governor, then Rutger Hauer should be made president. The man played a philosophizing replica in BLADE RUNNER and a peace-bringing cyborg in OMEGA DOOM, for Christ's sake, so eat it, Arnie). And what about Gary Busey playing the tough talking' Doc. When he told the story about the dog when he was a boy, I mean, you just got to love 'em: 100% Gary Busey doing his thing. All the other actors did a good job too (I sure had some fun watching John C. McGinley as the asthma-puffin' over-determined hunting rich-boy on the verge of a nervous breakdown).

By giving the hunters background stories and meaningful lines to say, the scriptwriters made the characters interesting and real. Something you don't expect from an action-flick.

My favorite death-scene: Charles S. Dutton gets blown to pieces. Hauer kneels down by his dying remains and puts his hands on Charles' head, saying something along the lines of "It's time to go to sleep now...". Harsh, man, harsh!

To wrap it all up, we have a good musical score by Stewart Copeland and a solid & clever ending. So, if you're a fan of any of the actors mentioned above, this film is a must see! If you're not a fan of the actors mentioned above, then why did you read this in the first place?

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13 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Good Movie, But Could Have Done Better

7/10
Author: Doramius from Las Vegas, NV
28 January 2004

This was New Line Cinema's 1994 response to Universal Picture's 'Hard Target'(1993). Though the character development and plot played out much better and the movie reviews prove this is the better movie to watch, it is no doubt that it is very close in story line to the Van Damme film.

A Seattle strung out alley man, down on his last stroke of will is given an opportunity to bring his life around in finance and come out on top for once. The catch is he is to be in the company of a group of poachers on a trip away from the mainland. The Seattle man agrees and is greeted with mostly open arms at a private cabin somewhere in the open Pacific wilderness. He finds out the next day he's to run for his life or end up as a formaldehyde trophy head.

The action is quite intense and brings into play thoughts of what a person might try to do if they were put into the same position.

Using an excellent cast and a decent story development this movie is definitely one worth renting a few times or even adding to your video collection.

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12 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Crazy action fun on the run

10/10
Author: Ms. V from Savramento, CA
8 May 2000

This was a movie I fell in favor of instantly, seeing a man on the run for his life from a band of sadistic hunters whose prey are humans rather than animals. It was so very amazing to see Ice-T as the man on the run who gave the hunters more than what they had all bargained for. Even the collection of hunters involved, headed up by Rutger Hauer and featuring the likes of an esoteric cast such as Charles S. Dutton, John C. McGinley, William McNamara (an actually unwilling participant in this ordeal), Gary Busey and F. Murray Abraham make for a band of human flesh hunters enough to make anybody run for cover. All-in-all, the type of movie for anyone to see for an idea of how the human mind can extend to the point of insanity with regard to whose life is important versus whose life is not. As the slogan of the movie goes, Never underestimate a man--or a woman(!)--who has nothing to lose.

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8 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

One of the Most Underrated Action Films of the 90s

8/10
Author: DarkStar84 from United States
20 February 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is an interesting film all right. The story takes it's inspiration from the Richard Connell 1924 short story 'Suriving the Game'. It's not a new idea, but it's one of the best takes on it.

Anyway, on to the meat of the story. The main character is the homeless Jack Mason (Ice-T) who quickly decided that he's sick of life. However, he's saved in the nick of time by a seemingly well-meaning man named Cole (playerd by the incomparable Charles S. Dutton). Cole managed to convince Mason to give life another try by offering him a job. The stories a little slow in the beginning, but things start picking up when Mason goes for the interview and meets the man he'll be working for, Burns (Rutger Hauer of Ladyhawk fame.) Mason manages to land the job and a few scenes later he's in the wilderness. This is where the story really starts rolling- we get to meet the remaining four characters of the story. The group includes nut-job Doc Hawkins, played by Gary Busy. Wolfe Sr. (F. Murray Abraham) a wall street cutthroat, and his naive son Wolfe Jr.. The last person we get to meet is Griphon (John C. McGinley, Dr. Cox from 'Scrubs')who seems ready to flip out at any moment.

Well, dinner commences and everyone get to know each other, and Mason goes to bed... Only to wake up with gun in his face. We knew this would happen, but it's just as fun to see him tossed out into the wilderness amidst threats and jeers from everyone (save for Jr- who's freaking out). Mason is left with little choice but to run like hell as the hunters have breakfast.

What I like about this story is that each of the hunters aren't 2D killers- they've all got complex back stories and both their's and Mason's are woven into the story as it progresses... Hawkins and Griphon argue over who'll get Mason first while Wolfe browbeats his son into going along ("He's a homeless piece of trash. Nothing... less then nothing!") The group sets out on ATVs and motorcycles, brandishing everything from automatic shotguns to crossbows.

However, like the novella, the prey turns out to be a little better than they expected. Cole and Burns smile (in their own subtext riddled way)- declaring that Mason's doubled back to the cabin... something that's never happened before.

Sufice to say, the group burst into the Cabin. Hawkins and Wolfe Sr. rush inside just as Burns realizes it's a trap. The cabin explodes (thanks to a trap set by Mason)as the hunters narrowly gets out... There's a great moment where Hawkins tries to kill Mason. "I like my meat rare!" Only to have things turned on him as he's thrown back into the cabin as Mason utters "try well done!" However, as the men take note of the situation, they discover that Hawkins has been killed. Burns smiles and remarks "This is where it gets good." ...And it does! The remaining men set after Mason. Jr continues to try and get the hell out of this situation, but his father is set on making a man out of him ("You're not going to embarrass me.")They start splitting up when they get a whiff of Mason, only to fall for another trick. This time, it's Griphon who get's waylaid by Mason.

The hunters continue after Mason. Burns makes it clear that he's more concerned with getting Mason then rescuing Griphon. Eventually, Griphon returns, remarking that he was let go but has no idea where Mason went (now armed with HIS Shotgun. Griphon want's out- he's ready to get his act together and leave. But Burns lets Cole shoot him- who's grinning the whole time! Jr flips out at this point and his father attempts to calm him down- trying to pin both deaths on Mason's shoulders! A potshot at the group tips Burns and Cole off to Mason's whereabouts. The three of them had been trading insults (over little headsets) back in forth amusingly, till Cole gets feat up with it and hops onto his ATV- triggering one of the raddest deaths on screen. (Mason had jimmied with the thing earlier)Cole's death sets off Burns, who'd been having a ball up till that moment. He's tired of the game- he want's Mason dead.

There's a nice exchange between Sr and Jr. "...It wasn't supposed to be like this." "How the F*ck was it supposed to be?!" The two of them follow Burns more out of fear then any desire to hunt.

For the entire film, the music has been solid, the editing great, and the shooting set to vivid cephia tones and arrays of greens. But the visuals get really cool when night falls (by this point, a trap had killed Jr and Wolfe openly remarks "after we kill Mason, I'm going to settle things with you." Burns just grins at this and welcomes the death challenge). Everything is set in strong blacks and dark blues as the two men wait for Mason to come after them...

And he does! Wolfe, starts freaking out even more and throws his gun away- challenging Mason to a fight. The bit where he turns around in time to see Ice-T's ghostly face point blank is brilliant! ...The movie should have ended in the woods. With it down to Burns and Mason, the confrontation would have been more then enough. This is really the biggest weakness of the film is the '2nd ending' aspect. Abraham has an academy award, but overacts in a couple of scenes (one of them critical to his character!) The "cave scene" is rather silly, but forgivable. Still, it's a good movie for the most part and fun to watch.

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10 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Seen it all before, but we still want MORE!

7/10
Author: Coventry from the Draconian Swamp of Unholy Souls
26 June 2008

The "manhunt" action/suspense premise may perhaps be nearly as old as cinema itself, but it's also one that practically always guarantees a bloody good time! I've seen several film versions of the hunting-humans concept and loved them all; except for one (the abominable 60's bore "Bloodlust!"). Irving Pichel and Ernest B. Schoedsack's original 30's classic "The Most Dangerous Game" undoubtedly remains the greatest version, but I particularly love how there exist numerous variations on the theme, like an excessively violent one set on a futuristic prison island ("Blood Camp Thatcher") or a super-sleazy one where they exclusively hunt scarcely dressed girls (Eddie Romero's "The Woman Hunt"). "Surviving the Game" is a rather rudimentary re-working of the premise, but nonetheless a very effective one with a downright awesome cast listing and a handful of genuine shocks. Jack Mason is an embittered and suicidal homeless man who loses his last will to live when both his dog and best friend in one day. The sly businessman Thomas Burns lures Mason to the wilderness with a false job promise, but instead he and his maniacal rich friends simply intend to hunt down Mason like an animal and kill him for sports. Mason may be suicidal, but he still wants to decide for himself when he dies, and so he successfully fights back. "Surviving the Game" is quite a gruesome and nihilistic-toned film; definitely not for people with vulnerable stomachs. The violence is pretty gratuitous and served without any form of morality, but what else do you expect from a B-movie. As indicated above, the film's main trump is the cast and particularly because each and every cool actor depicts a marvelously eccentric character. I can't even pick a favorite performance between F. Murray Abraham (as a sinister Wall Street big shot), Gary Busey (as an out-and-out deranged FBI psychiatrist), the overacting John C. McGinley (as a frustrated hunter with a vengeance) or of course Rutger Hauer as the mega-bastard. Ernest Dickerson – formerly a skilled cinematographer – does an admirable job directing his first long feature and he went on making the vastly entertaining Tales from the Crypt movie "Demon Knight". The forestry filming locations are impressive, the story doesn't contain any dull or unnecessary padding sequences and the level of suspense is continuously kept high. I don't know about you but that's everything I look for in an action movie.

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7 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Solid, entertaining thriller, but for action fans only

7/10
Author: lemon_magic from Wavy Wheat, Nebraska
20 August 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The brilliant short story "The Most Dangerous Game" has inspired and spawned so many movies that there ought to be an official sub-genre for it - maybe something like "MDG movies" or "MO-DA". There must be dozens out there: the original "The Most Dangerous Game", "The Hunted", "Mean Guns", "Bloodlust", etc. "Among the most energetic and involving in the genre are John Woo's update, "Hard Target", and this movie, "Surviving The Game", which also capitalizes on the idea of "hunting homeless people for sport".

STG was my first introduction to Ice T as an actor, and I have to admit that I was impressed. He plays his role with a nice mixture of toughness, sadness, misery, and humor, and he does it with hardly a false or unconvincing note in the entire movie. Some of the credit may go to the screenplay, because he was pretty stiff in "Mean Guns", but he holds center stage here like a natural.

The rest of the cast is also quite strong, with Rutger Hauer and Charles Dutton especially giving convincing, memorable performances. The characters they play are human monsters, but they enjoy themselves so much, take such glee in their roles as "mighty hunters", that the repulsiveness and ugliness of what they are doing almost takes a back seat to the "strategy and tactics" war games they play with their prey. Almost. But it takes a special talent to invest these yuppie scum with energy and charisma to keep them interesting, and the director and actors all deserve kudos for what they pull off here.

Here's the strength of the screenplay - You come to understand that Ice T's character is actually quite shrewd and resourceful and is a born survivor, but he also out of his element and heavily outnumbered; while the hunting party is complacent and smug, but they are completely ruthless, vastly more experienced at this game. AND they have all the guns. Ice T is no martial arts superman, (like JCVD in "Hard Target"), and his opponents are not professional killers, so the odds are far more even, but the stakes are just as high. It's a very nice balancing of tension vs. hope, and determination and wits against numbers and skill.

Of course, if the movie looked bad, or sounded crappy, much of the impact would be lost. I'm a big fan of Copeland's soundtracks, and he comes through here with his usual ringing, chiming, supple and plangent atmospheric backgrounds that are worth listening to for their own sake. And the cinematography in the woods of Oregon is heartbreakingly beautiful - even as the tension and danger mount, the eye is captured by the light and the scenery and the colors.

There are a couple weak spots in the movie, of course. John McGinty's character is completely stupid (although he plays him well), and the scene in the cave where T and McGinty reveal their back-stories to each other is completely uninspired and by-the-numbers. The shifting of momentum between the hunter and the hunted doesn't quite work - you have to kind of suspend disbelief at a couple of points near the end where Murray Abraham's character starts to "lose it". And I have a hard time believing that Hauer's character, once he returns to the city, doesn't simply go to ground and lay a clever ambush for T instead of packing everything to flee the city and start over elsewhere. (Of course, it could be argued that he tried setting a trap in the final scene set in the woods, and it didn't work then.)

But as action-adventure movies go, and as 'MGD' movies go, this is a keeper that holds up to repeating viewings. I bought it used on DVD several years ago after my initial rental, and I have watched it and enjoyed it at least half-a-dozen times since then.

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9 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Don't Mess With the Homeless

Author: BaronBl00d (baronbl00d@aol.com) from NC
25 July 2000

Beverage guy Ice T plays a down and out "bum" that is given a job to help a group of guys at a hunting lodge...or so he thinks. In reality, he is to be the prey. Surviving the Game is a reworking of the timeless classic story by Richard Connell "The Most Dangerous Game." Ice T ends up running from this group of selfish, arrogant, and sadistic killers that feel no remorse or shame for killing this man because he is a homeless vagrant. He matches wits with his opponents and then some. This film can best be described as entertainment. It isn't full of great acting..the acting is acceptable with a few good performances out of Rutger Hauer(Man this guy can be scary) and Charles Dutton. The rest are merely adequate...a means to develop the plot and move things along. The story is pretty good but has some flaws, but the film is full of action and suspense.

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