A chess grandmaster is in a big tournament, and when his lover is found painted up and the blood drained out of her body he becomes a chief suspect. After he gets a call from the killer urging him to try and figure out the game, he cooperates with police and a psychologist to try and catch the killer, but doubts linger about the grandmaster's innocence as the string of grisly murders continues.Written by
Ed Sutton <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Due to Christopher Lambert's popularity in Europe, the film was released theatrically first in the UK, Asia and Australia before being sent to the theaters in the US. See more »
When Erica is shown playing Super Mario Brothers 3 on a PC, the moves she makes with the joystick as well as her keyboard tapping are inconsistent with what is shown on the PC monitor. In the next scene, she moves away from the PC but the game is still playing by itself. See more »
I've got a drunk for a wife and a lunatic for a son. I don't need this shit anymore. You're crazy, both of you.
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The European cut of the film runs approximately 11 minutes longer and goes into greater detail about the relationship between Peter and his dead wife. Several of the dialogue scenes also run longer. The US cut was shortened to speed up the pace and make the film more action-packed. See more »
Not as clever as the set-up suggests but still an OK genre film
Peter Sanderson is a chess master in town for a major tournament. After visiting her and having sex with her, Sanderson's casual lover is murdered and left in a strange pose. The police suspect him as the person who was with her moments before her death but things are confused when Sanderson is contacted by the killer wishing to play a game with him. The murders continue as Sanderson and the police try to outsmart the killer however clues still indicate that Sanderson could still be a suspect himself.
There are very few thrillers that would chose to set themselves in the world of grandmaster chess as the basis for their plot, and even fewer that would manage to pull it off convincingly; this film falls into the former but not the latter. The plot only really uses chess as the background so that it can make a rather tenuous link between that game and the game that is played between Sanderson and the killer. This basic plot is interesting enough even if it doesn't really stand out from the basic video-thriller genre that the chess connection suggests it is better than. The chess connection doesn't really work as it doesn't actually fit in with the murders very well feeling forced quite a lot; certainly the whole chess championship is just a side issue and the film never manages to actually convince that this is a battle of wits, in fact the police do most of the leg work and Peter only occasionally blurts out the odd 'Eureka in the bathtub' line.
The solution is semi-clever in that I realized that the film had tricked me from the first scene onwards, but, despite this fact, the identity of the killer is as out-of-the-blue and you would expect it to be. The film is littered with minor characters who jump out of shadows, appear at suspicious times or say menacing things under their breath, all red herrings of course but most of them are not explained and it is obvious the writer never thought about whether or not they made sense in any context other than them being red herrings. Having said that, the film is enjoyable but mainly as a genre film rather than anything clever or particularly inventive. The lack of a really clever cat'n'mouse game was a letdown for me because of the potential that the chess connection had suggested.
The cast are a fairly average mix that contribute to the feeling that this is a genre film rather than anything particularly clever. Lambert has had a very mixed career and this is just another strange role that he doesn't play that well certainly the words 'Lambert' and 'chess master' are words that words that don't seem to naturally appear together. Sticking with the clichés of both the genre and Lambert films, we get the obligatory love scene (twice!) that have little relevance but gives the film the added selling point of breasts! Skerrit and Baldwin are better than the rest of the cast even with poor characters the two of them control each scene they are in and make the film feel better than it is.
Overall, the title and background suggest a clever game of wits between a chess master and the killer but it doesn't manage to be anything more than an OK genre film. The twist is out of the blue as always but getting there is quite fun and the end result is a film that is enjoyable but quite unspectacular.
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