Surviving the Game (1994) – Review

2 1/2 Stars

Surviving the Game will always be remembered as the wannabe Hard Target. Regardless that this film was well into production when the Woo film cam out, the similarities in source material, setting, and characters were too coincidental to miss. Ice-T attempts the action-hero role after his well received turn in the action-drama New Jack City and he’s adequate at best, puffy and amateurish at worst.

Jack Mason (Ice-T) is a former Marine now living on the streets of Seattle. In the movie’s first scenes Mason suffers the loss of his best friend and his dog within a 24hr period. This sorrow coupled with the daily struggles he must endured have become too much for the former military specialist. In a moment of weakness he attempts suicide only to be saved from certain death by a local charity worker, Walter Cole (Charles S. Dutton).

Cole offers the downtrodden man a job that requires a meeting with an affluent businessman Thomas Burns (Rutger Hauer), who lets on that the job is as a hunting guide. Despite his lack of knowledge about the wilderness, Mason accepts the money to accompany the group on a hunting expedition.

After being flown to a remote location surrounded by dense acres of forest, Mason is made aware that he is the pray the men will be hunting. Each of whom have paid $50,000 for the privilege of taking down a man. The hunting party includes Doc Hawkins (Gary Busey), the founder of the hunt, a psychotic psychiatrist who specializes in psychological assessments, Cole, Texas “oil man” John Griffin (John C. McGinely), wealthy executive Derek Wolfe, Sr. (F. Murray Abraham), and his son, Derek Wolfe, Jr. (William McNamara).

Surviving the Game is an entertaining little B-movie with minor pleasures throughout. Busey, McGinley, and Dutton are quite good in their respective roles, making up for the miscast Ice-T. The umpteenth retelling of The Most Dangerous Game isn’t as glossy as it’s contemporary, Hard Target, but it provides a more faithful retelling of the classic tale.

Director: Ernest R. Dickerson
Stars: Ice-T, Rutger Hauer, Charles S. Dutton,

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