In Assassination Games (originally titled Weapon), Brazil (Jean Claude Van Damme) is a contract killer willing to take any job if the price is right. Flint (Scott Adkins) left the assassin game when a ruthless drug dealer's brutal attack left his wife in a coma. When a contract is put out on the same cold-blooded gangster, both Brazil and Flint want him dead - one for the money, the other for revenge. With crooked Interpol agents and vicious members of the criminal underworld hot on their trail and looking to take down Flint for disappearing with their dirty money, these two assassins reluctantly join forces to quickly take out their target before they are terminated.
The latest collaboration between action favourites, Van Damme and Adkins, brings something fresh and different to both their individual back-catalogues, and their growing portfolio of work together. Since facing off against one another in The Shepherd: Border Patrol, which never quite hit the mark, they teamed up for the first time in this moody action/thriller and will soon be seen together again in Universal Soldier: A New Dimension and The Expendables 2. I, for one, would love to see more from this duo as they reaffirm here how well they work together!
Assassination Games (formerly titled Weapon, which arguably should have stayed) is not an action or Martial Arts movie as one might expect, but rather a dark, sombre assassin story portraying ruthlessly efficient killers working in a criminal world. The action, while not frequent, punctuates the drama and combines gritty realism with occasional flashy choreography, the latter courtesy of Scott Adkins whose otherworldly athleticism and acrobatic skill has made him a genre favourite. Working under fight choreographer, Stanimir Stamatov, the action compliments the story, rather than supports it - and this style works well. The action also features strong bouts of gunplay which merge well given the theme of the movie.
The performances are good for the most part, with strong action and acting leads from Van Damme and Adkins - Van Damme portraying the cold, ruthless killer and Adkins, the tortured, broken man with a vendetta. Solid support is also provided by villain, Ivan Kaye, who manages to humanise his nasty bad guy. Van Damme's kids, Kristopher and Bianca Van Varenberg even turn up in supporting roles! From a visual standpoint, the film is well shot and looks slick (the action is even visible, a rarity these days it seems!), utilising a sepia filter over much of the run time - giving a grim, atmospheric feel. This may not be to everyone's taste and I've read that some found it distracting, but I felt it worked well and there was enough variety in the colour and tone used throughout to keep it fresh. Overall, Assassination Games is a tense, moody and highly entertaining action/thriller. For a low-budget movie it's particularly ambitious and fans of both Van Damme and Adkins should definitely seek out and support this film.