Game of Death - DVD Review
Director: Giorgio Serafini
Cast: Wesley Snipes, Zoe Bell, Gary Daniels, Robert Davi, Simon Rhee
Run Time: 93 mins
Distributor: Optimum Releasing
Agent Marcus (Wesley Snipes) is a renowned CIA operative who takes on a mission to infiltrate the organisation of a notorious arms dealer (Robert Davi) and close down his operation. When the mission is almost complete and the deal's latest transaction is soon-to-be settled, Marcus is shocked to find his trusted team have turned on him, having formulated a plan to go rogue and take the substantial payout for themselves. Outnumbered, outgunned and pinned down in a Detroit hospital, Marcus will fight with ruthless efficiency to stop his former teammates and finish the mission.
'Behind the Action' featurette
Having seen some significant changes in the early stages of production (namely the changing of original director Abel Ferrara), despite an excessively cool premise and first-rate action cast, the production sounded like it was flatlining. Fortunately Italian director Giorgio Serafini stepped in on relatively short notice and carved a gritty, tense and action-packed thriller that didn't lose any of the great elements which got fans curious in the first place. His style is dark, cinematic and looks more suited to drama, which works well because the film visually looks a lot more impressive than many of the usual DTV films we're used to seeing. There have been some comments on the occasional black & white 'arty' shots used in certain scenes. This method did feel a little out of place at times but generally worked within the context. It certainly didn't affect the film as much as expected and while this technique might seem unusual, this is not a by-the-numbers action fare.
The story was undoubtedly one of the strongest elements and reached its peak during the lengthy, claustrophobic battle inside a hospital. Using the idea of a highly trained operative going head-to-head with his former friends and colleagues also added a layer of unnerving drama and tension over the action, especially compared to the common premise of battling through faceless enemies. Despite featuring some dynamic and stylishly brutal action (courtesy of fight choreographer and co-star, Simon Rhee: Best of the Best 1 & 2), the build-up is extremely tense and virtually all the action remains gritty and realistic. Within both the action and drama arenas, we're treated to an awesome cast including Wesley Snipes, Kickboxing and Action Legend Gary Daniels and Stunt Queen Zoe Bell, plus actor/fight choreographer Simon Rhee and bad guy favourite, Robert Davi. There are some solid shootouts and nasty close-quarter fight scenes utilising deadly takedown techniques. Of course, there is also the much anticipated Martial showdown between Snipes' underdog Agent and Daniels' leader of the Rogue CIA squad. They both show their stuff (with Gary Daniels noticeably punishing Snipes in the kicking department), but while entertaining, my only complaint is that it should have lasted longer! Also based on the talent of both stars, the fight could have incorporated even more techniques and ingredients demonstrated elsewhere in their careers. Gary Daniels and Zoe Bell both deliver solid bad guy (and gal) performances and make a strong, even sympathetic villain team. They should definitely work together again!
Game of Death is a solid action / thriller with some great production values, an engaging story and a must-see cast for hardcore action fans. Check it out!
Game of Death is released on Blu-ray and DVD on 21 February 2011