Surviving The Game movie posterNew Line Cinema
1994
R

You are missing the best part, Mister Mason. When you’re eating the flesh of the pig…look into his beady eyes. That way you will be devouring his soul.”

Ice-T is Mason, a homeless man recruited by a band of wealthy hunters to lead an expedition into the Pacific Northwest. But on the first day of the hunt, he discovers a lethal surprise…he’s the prey. It’s gut-wrenching action from start to finish as the game begins and the hunters learn a deadly lesson: Never underestimate a man who’s got nothing to lose.

I remember, somewhat vaguely, watching this particular take on the classic tale “The Most Dangerous Game” in its initial theatrical run back in 1994. I can’t really recall why I decided to watch this particular one. I’m not really that big of a fan of Ice-T, who was still early on flexing his acting skizzels, and the only other actor that I recognized by name on the roster was Gary Busey. It wasn’t until much later when I came to notice the existence of Rutger Hauer as an actor, so at this point I only recognized the Rapper and the Guy Who Was In Point Break. Doesn’t matter much, as my biggest impression I got as I was taking in this afternoon flick was, “oooooh, another Most Dangerous Game adaptation.” Yeah, there are plenty of those floating around. I wonder sometimes if Richard Connell knew what kind of a trope he was unleashing back in 1924. But, I digress.

In Surviving The Game, Ice-T plays Ice-T playing a homeless man who is having a particularly bad day, losing both his human and canine best friends in the course of the morning. He’s about to end it all himself, until someone points him in the direction of a businessman, who then offers him a gig to lead a hunting party in the Pacific Northwest the next day. Did I mention this takes place in Seattle? I should have pointed that out first. Or at least taken the time to edit this out. But I didn’t. Eh, whatever. He flies out, meets the party of hunters–mostly wealthy types who payed a big price to be on this hunting expedition–and then finds out the morning of the hunt that it is he, the homeless man, who is being hunted! Shock, surprise, I didn’t see that one coming in a million years. Turns out, these guys have been doing this kind of thing for a while. Only, this time they didn’t realize they were dealing with the Original Gangsta himself. And thus, Ice-T takes them out methodically, leaving only him and the Replicant of the group standing at the end…until the very last frame, when the Replicant blows up. And if you’re scratching your head at that last part, go watch Blade Runner. You’ll be watching a better movie, trust me.

Yeah, I’m not really all that impressed with Surviving The Game. It’s your generic mid-1990s action flick that takes a familiar premise, injects a then still-relevant rapper into the mix, and bakes it to its logical conclusion. It’s neither bad nor great, just kinda “meh”. It’s watchable, yes, and I understand there’s a bit of a cult following since this one made it to VHS and later DVD rentals. For me, I probably won’t go out of my way to rent and watch Surviving The Game another time, but if it’s a slow weekend afternoon and it’s the only thing on the telly, then I’m not complaining either.

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