Game of Death (2011)

tn_gameofdeath11Well, here we are with another new layer forming on top of The Mystery of Wesley Snipes. As of this writing Mr. Snipes recently started his 3 year bid for misdemeanor failure-to-file charges. This is the first but not last of his in-the-can DTV productions.

Unfortunately it’s not worth getting excited about. But when it was first announced it seemed promising, because it was gonna be directed by Abel BAD LIEUTENANT: ORIGINAL PORT OF CALL Ferrara, who last worked with Snipes on KING OF NEW YORK. That’s a guy with a strong voice and raw gritty feel, who at the very least you wouldn’t expect to make it generic. And he’d have a soundtrack by Schooly D. Unfortunately Ferrara left, the schedule was shortened and the script reworked on the fly for Italian TV director Giorgio Serafini.

Despite competent filmatism and the best efforts of a strong-for-DTV cast – Gary Daniels, Zoe Bell, Robert Davi, Ernie Hudson – this is a completely flavorless wafer. You guys know I can enjoy a good formula movie, but this is the formula without any movie attached. No tiny little touches of distinction, no mildly original new half-spins on the old cliches, and most of the dialogue sounds like placeholders quickly typed in where somebody would write the actual dialogue later on if they had a couple free minutes. You can’t tell me there was a second draft or a proof read on this thing.

mp_gameofdeath11In the opening scene, to establish that Wesley’s character Marcus is a former CIA agent wanted for robbery and murder, they show him sitting in a car with a newspaper that says “FORMER CIA AGENT WANTED FOR ROBBERY AND MURDER.” In the flashback where he meets with a guy on a park bench to get the assignment that he’s gonna get set up for the guy says “and Marcus… the CIA cannot be connected to this.” As if this is something that he would have to say. As if this is something that anybody would ever have to say. And as if somebody who did have to say that would ever want to say it in those words.

A few lazy, obvious lines like that you can get away with; a whole movie where everything that happens is a cliche and everybody talks about it in that straightforward expository type of way is just weird. For example instead of establishing a mentor/father figure relationship with his boss they just have Gary Daniels say to him, “Yeah, we killed Dietrich. Your beloved mentor. He was like a father figure to you, right Marcus?”

For most of the movie the CIA stuff doesn’t seem to quite fit. I’m pretty sure Snipes was originally just a bodyguard for Davi, because he mostly just does that. Davi has a heart attack, Snipes takes him to the hospital and has to defend him from rogue CIA agents led by Daniels who want to kidnap him and take him to some other guy to withdraw a bunch of money from a vault.

(When they do it’s three suitcases that are supposed to hold $100 million in $100 bills. Can you really fit a million bills in three suitcases? I guess I wouldn’t know.)

Anyway I think they were worried it wasn’t working, or they wanted to get away with some shit when Abel Ferrara was out of town, so they added a whole wraparound story where actually Marcus is a CIA agent and he feels bad about what happened and confesses to Father Ernie Hudson. Because in movies anything Catholic = themes of redemption.

The Internet’s Movie Data Base credits Jim Agnew (Argento’s GIALLO) for the screenplay and Megan Brown for the rewritten one. Brown doesn’t have any other writing credits but has many bit parts as an actress, ranging from “Mileena” in one episode of MORTAL KOMBAT: CONQUEST to “Woman Kissing Benjamin (uncredited)” in THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON. I don’t know if it’s either of these two or a producer or what, but what I would really like to know is who is responsible for the movie’s title, and how do they explain themselves? If your job is to play “Cross-Eyed Mom” in ROBODOC then that’s fine, I don’t necessarily expect you to know that there is a very famous Bruce Lee movie called GAME OF DEATH, although you might happen to know that. But if you are in the position of making up the title for the new Wesley Snipes action movie then yes, I’m gonna assume you know that one was already used, or could find it out by using the new computers they have now.

It might be more forgivable if there was something going on the story, some sort of a game that involves death. A death game. But there’s not. He runs around in a hospital shooting for a little bit. They try to steal the money. Nothing very gamey about it, in my opinion. Might as well have been ENTER THE DRAGON. He did enter a couple buildings. And a car. He might be sort of a dragon, it’s hard to say.

They should’ve had a part where he’s wearing a yellow suit and he shoots a really tall guy, just to keep us wondering.

The only real parallel between GAME OF DEATH and GAME OF DEATH is that both kinda suck. The original GAME OF DEATH is more offensive because it takes footage from an unfinished masterpiece and turns it into a bunch of bullshit using obvious fake actors. Maybe it would’ve been a good title for this if Wesley only got to shoot a few minutes before he got locked up and the rest was done showing the back of his stunt double’s head. But that’s not the case. The thing is, Snipes is as good as always. He’s into it. This is serious, good-posture Wesley, but he gets in a little subtle humor here and there, like the pained look he gives when a nurse tells him “I always wanted to date a bodyguard.” The fight scenes, choreographed by BEST OF THE BEST 1 and 2’s Dae Han himself, Simon Rhee, are pretty good. They’re shot and cut way better than ART OF WAR 2 but similarly showcase the great fighting style of Snipes and his stunt double (not that I noticed a stunt double, but that’s how I know he does good work). Snipes gets lots of good moves and poses and even does a Seagal style aikido handslap defense.

And he looks good, honestly not much older than in the BLADE movies, not any slower, if anything a little thinner. It’s not like the fickle public is turning on him for getting fat and grey, ’cause that ain’t happening. So this brings us back to that great riddle: why is BROOKLYN’S FINEST the only one of Snipes’s last ten movies that was a theatrical release? (and a small one at that.) Of course I’m not saying those other ones are good enough to be theatrical, I’m just saying why the fuck doesn’t anybody hire him for a good movie?

Meanwhile rumors fly of various other actors being considered to play Blade in new movies. Okay, I understand that we’re now in a disposable or cannibalistic type pop culture that believes only shiny new things are good and as soon as they’ve been exposed to air for over 18 months they must be destroyed and replaced with a newer, more expensive version starring younger actors. Within five years I predict that every comic book character or shitty ’80s sci-fi movie will have one or more $600 million 3-D prebootquelmakes starring an all child cast like BUGSY MALONE.

So I get it, of course they don’t want to make another awesome Blade movie that would be great, make people happy, improve our world and culture, etc. They would rather lose more money making one that’s not as good. They call it the movie business, not the making lots of money but also trying to do a pretty good job so that it’s better for everybody and so they can look themselves in the mirror and not shame their parents and countrymen business.

My dream is to transfer John McTiernan into the same joint Wesley’s in and have him direct a new UNDISPUTED. It’s minimum security, so maybe we could smuggle some cameras and Ed Lover in there, I don’t know. Short of that we’re gonna have some weird supernatural western called GALLOWWALKER and then we’ll have to wait a little while for a new Snipes movie. Maybe during that time you Hollywood types can get your fucking shit together, stop shaming yourselves and write some scripts worthy of this largely wasted national resource. I mean you could do a surprise party, make a “Welcome back Wesley” banner and some snacks or whatever, that’s fine. But I’d rather you take this opportunity to have a great fucking movie ready for him. Tax deductible if possible.


GAME OF DEATH comes to DVD and Blu-Ray February 15, 2011. According to the back of the screener it will do well because “Wesley Snipes enjoys huge awareness and a loyal fanbase” and because “Rogue CIA Agent Films are Hot! (Salt, Bourne, Mission Impossible)”


This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 5th, 2011 at 1:27 am and is filed under Action, Reviews, Thriller. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

84 Responses to “Game of Death (2011)”

  1. Ace Mac Ashbrook

    January 5th, 2011 at 2:24 am

    I’ll never understand what happened to Snipes’ career. He is a decent actor and a great action star. What the fuck man?

  2. The script sure does suck (as much as I like Zoe Bell, I wish she had less dialogue – her constant baiting of Snipes as she stalks him through the hospital is really annoying)- but the action was very well handled, which makes sense now you mention that it was choreographed by Simon Rhee.I’m surprised Vern you didn’t mention the film’s one redeeming bit of cookiness – Snipes, while evading the rogue agents, ends up locked in the psych ward, with all these crazy patients thinking he’s a doctor or a god.

  3. Good review Vern, and on the basis of it, I’ll probably wait for DVD.

    I think I made my feelings about Snipes clear in the “Undisputed” review comments, which is when they really solidified for me. Snipes has never blown me away, not in the same sense that almost all other action stars of his period have. Most of the time I like him, and I thought “Blade” was very good; but man, when you’re the action villain of a movie like “Demolition Man” and you get completely upstaged by Sandra Bullock in a supporting role (see also: Keanu Reeves in “Speed”), something’s off.

  4. I actually liked the Snipes vs Gary Daniel’s fight at the end. It’s better than most of what Seagal has done in his DTV days.

    Has anyone seen the Blade TV Series? Some Rapper called Sticky Jones played Blade.

  5. It’s 2011, shouldn’t this be about defrosting John Spartan so he can go catch Simon Phoenix?

  6. Paul> Snipes was upstaged by Bullock in Demolition Man? You were looking at her cute little arse weren’t you?

  7. I hope Mr. Snipes has internet access while in jail because I think this article would definitely cheer him up.

  8. The end fight with Gary Daniels is pretty good – I liked the rather sadistic way he gets finished off by Snipes (is that a Spoiler? could there really be any other outcome?)

    Felix> the Blade tv series was very good – well made, good stories and great cast – except for mr Sticky, who was pretty darn wooden. Luckily the makers realised this and made the series much more about Jill Wagner’s character, who was being indoctrinated into one of the vampire houses. Definitely worth catching up on, imho.

  9. I just saw the trailer for this and thought the cast looked phenomenal, even if the movie itself looked as aggressively generic as Vern made it out to be. Does Zoe get to do much fighting? I still think she’s got some fun flicks in her if they can find a way to use her mix of peppiness and badassery like they did in DEATN PROOF. She’s too plucky to get stuck playing glowering assassins.

  10. Ace Mac – well, while Snipes’ Phoenix gets to run about looking ridiculous and kicking people, Bullock’s klutzy naive wannabe hero-cop gets all the best lines: “I’M GOING TO BLOW HIM!” “Away! You’re going to blow him AWAY!” Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind Bullock’s ass. (That would sound so much worse taken out of context.) But she’s the real star of the movie.

  11. Majestyk,

    Yeah, the cool thing about DEATH PROOF is that Zoe is a total badass while still being kinda goofy and girly. Too many action movies, when they try to do a tough female character, basically just make her a stoic badass who would be interchangeable with any male character except for maybe skintight latex or cleavage or something. Not a lot of films seem to be able to find that right badass/feminine sweet spot.

  12. For a while it seems like Zoe Bell will just be a dialogue-free henchwoman, but there is a whole section where she’s chasing Wesley through the hospital trying to convince him to join her side. I kind of liked her in that part, I guess others didn’t.

    She does get to fight a little but mostly she just shoots. So it’s somewhere in between a good role and a total waste of her talents.

    As for Blade: The Series, I thought Sticky grew into the role by the end of the season, but of course then that was the end of it.

  13. I will do the math in silly units, to confuse everyone.

    The bill is maybe about 156 x 66 x 0.1 mm (in inches: 6.14 x 2.61 x very few), which is 1029.6 mm3

    Lets say the suitcase is 1 x 0.8 x 0.33 m (in feet: 3 x 2.4 x 1), which is 266400000 mm3

    So in 3 such wimpy cases you can have about 3 x 266400000/1029.6 = 776223 bills, if you are a god at packing the bills. So, if you had the skills and strength of Arnold, you could probably squeeze 100 million dollars into 3 big suitcases.

    I guess it’s really up to the bill: How thick are the money over there? All someone has to do to confirm the findings of this doktor is to scrape up about $10000 in 100 dollar bills, and see if the tight-packed pile is less than half an inch.

  14. Snipes himself is partly to blame for the demise of the Blade franchise. Not solely the reason, but part of it. Apparently, he did gain some leverage with the success of the previous Blade films so he started to throw his weight around on the set demanding changes. Of course, since there wasn’t a strong creative vision behind the film (like with, say, Blade 2), the whole thing turned into a big clusterfuck with everybody having an opinion of what the film should be like. Goyer, Snipes, the studio etc.

    Too bad it got him thrown into DTV jail (and an actual one too, but I don’t think we can blame Blade 3 for that). Snipes does need a strong director to bring his A game. He was terrific in Brooklyn’s Finest and I hope some other director sees the potential what they can get out of the guy. Once he gets out of the pokey, that is.

    Otherwise I’m unfortunate to say he’s going to permanently turn into Eddie Murphy of direct-to-video action. Perfectly happy to coast on his past successes to cash in a solid paycheck doing flavorless and unchallenging roles.

  15. I love Wesley Snipes . He’s one of those actors able to make even a shitty movie look better . ” Yeah , I know , this looks like shit on a DVD , but there’s Wesley Snipes in it ! At the very least I know he’s going to be good !”. I think he’s not only a fantastic action star , but he’s also able to play dramatic roles , villains , funny guys and funny villains ( New Jack City ). He’s a good actor.

    With that out of the way , I , too , suspect that he may be partly to blame for his DTV career turn . In a number of sources , both online and on paper ( the Italian cinema newspaper Ciak ) , he’s described as notoriously difficult to work with . In one set preview of Blade Trinity I was reading way back in the day , the writer said that he was always smoking weed and only coming out of his room for frontal shots and nothing else , using the stunt double for everything else. I don’t know if that’s true , because it’s only one single set visit , but it’s not the first time I read that he’s such a difficult person .
    But I sure wish that we will see more good movies from Wesley , and this “Gallowwalker” supernatural-western looks promising .
    Fingers Crossed.

  16. I’ve always liked Snipes. Hopes he gives us more Action flicks once he gets out.

    When are you going to review Born To Raise Hell, Vern?

  17. Just watched the trailer for Gallowwalker. Looks like a lot of fun. Lots of interesting characters and faces. kind of BLADE in the wild west. Cool.

  18. If you haven’t seen it, Angel of Death is worth catching. It started off as a web-based series and was re-edited into a feature. Zoe Bell gets some excellent fight scenes (choreographed by Ron Yuan).


    Snipes + Lee = greatness.

    Wish the man could alternate between gigs ’cause at least 50% of his talent is wasted in the action genre. As for not getting a job: there may be something we don’t know from behind the scenes. I always wondered what happened to Michael Keaton as well; after ONE GOOD COP, he seemed poised to fully escape his “funnyman” phase into a carreer renaissance. Then . . .

  20. And what about True Justice? Or Southern Justice? Or True Justice: Deadly Crossing? Or True Justice: Deadly Crossing? I keep losing track what it’s called.

    If looked as a Seagal direct-to-video action flick, it’s pretty unimpressive. But then I started thinking about it as the TV series it is supposed to be (and not some episodes welded poorly together to make a string of DTV flicks).

    And it’s damn great. I think the hidden genius of it is not that Seagal is making a cop show, but that Seagal is making a Steven Seagal DTV Era: The Series. Every week you get him abusing suspects, being pretty damn unconstitutional with his police procedures, breaking joints. And see him bring in all the crazy and fun personal touches he’s developed over the years. Everything from talking ethnic (of whatever ethnicity the person he’s talking to happens to be – I think he speaks Chinese, southern twang and ebonics in the two episode film alone), to having a much younger girlfriend to showing knowledge in samurai swords.

    Instead of playing a cop or otherwise trying to blend into a role, he’s basically bringing his life and interests and molding the show around it. It’s basically a weekly fountain of concentrated Seagalogy. Created and written by Steven Seagal, as the credits say.

    A series of DTV is a bad move. This should be on TV for everyone to see and enjoy. Great stuff.

  21. HT, you’re spot on. Hopefully the series will be picked up.

  22. Ace Mac Ashbrook

    January 5th, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    I hope that Seagal tv show gets to the UK. I take its started in the States already. You guys don’t know how good you’ve got it.

  23. Man it seems like forever since we had a DTV review around these parts. Good stuff as usual good sir. Once question though Vern, how would you compare this to say Art of War II?

    I know it disappointed fans of the first but I enjoy the shit out of that movie somehow. Not a bad Snipes DTV IMO. It’s not apologetic about it’s mediocrity and that makes it interesting to watch to me.

  24. Forgot to say that I’ll check this one out for that same reason. Snipes DTV is better than the average DTV regardless of how quickly it could degenerate into subcrap.

  25. It’ll be interesting to see where Snipes decides to take his career after he gets out. The part in Brooklyn’s Finest was a nice start, but like said, he’s been largely spinning his wheels on mediocre DTV flicks that are far below his talent.

    Meanwhile, his contemporaries are all trying to reforge their individual careers. Lundgren has jumped in head first into directing and gained a big boost from The Expendables. Van Damme went with the crazy art house route with JVCD, and he’s been going back into directing with The Eagle Path, and he’s doing voice work in Kung Fu Panda 2. Seagal has been honing his DTV career and making it his own. Every flick he’s done is very much a Steven Seagal movie, with very much trademark elements in all of them. Even though the quality might not be the highest, he is taking ownership of them. And then there are the villain role in Machete and two seasons (well, one and half or so) of Lawman.

    So while all of them are undoubtedly chained down by their DTV work they’ve ended up with, they’re still pushing on with new side projects and otherwise not just staying content with the current status of their careers. Three years is a long time to be out of the game for Snipes. He really needs to get his shit together and take control of his professional life. And not just take the easy route and cash in on some new Art of War sequel, or another disposable actioner with a generic name and a generic plot.

    Or heavens forbid, do a direct-to-video Blade film. Fortunately, were not there yet.

  26. Now , imagine a Blade reboot with some other actor , like this Idris Elba ( he’s already in 2 Marvel movies , Thor and the Ghost Rider sequel/reboot) they’re mentioning . The movie is a modest success at the box office , just enough to justify a DTV sequel . They hire Wesley Snipes for the DTV sequel.

  27. “Some rapper called Sticky Jones,”? “Mr. Sticky”?

    Come on guys, that was Sticky Fingaz. He was in Onyx for Chris’sakes.


  29. doctor rock, I brought a big briefcase & 2 suitcases to the bank & cashed out some of 2 of my accounts to see if your math holds up. Nah, you can’t get a million Benjis in those things.
    (spoiler) Shit ends up like the end of Kubrick’s THE KILLING (end spoiler).

    Yet another reason I of course support a total conversion to the gold standard.

  30. Re: Idris Elba as Blade.

    Stringer Bell as the Daywalker would be legitimately badass. Michael K. Williams might be the obvious choice, as he already played a menacing trenchcoat-clad loner enforcing his own moral code amidst a war between rival houses/institutions, but I don’t think he would be right for the cold poker-faced sneer that Snipes used to make Blade so great. I’d always heard Idris Elba was being considered for Black Panther, but I like the suggestion of Chiwetel Ejiofor for BP, with Elba for Blade.

    Obviously, it should be Snipes, but if that doesn’t happen, I think Elba is more than qualified to pick up the role. Also, there’s an extremely tenuous connection to Blade, as Sticky Jones (the TV Blade) was in Onyx with Fredro Starr, who played an assassin named Bird who worked for Elba’s Stringer Bell on The…

  31. Oh shit, apparently Fredro Starr was on the Blade TV show also. Wonder whatever happened to Sonsee.

  32. If it’s not Wesley it has to be Michael Jai White. Idris Elba is awesome, but let him play a character that doesn’t have to do martial arts. Superman or Popeye or somebody.

  33. Blade: The TV series was an ONYX reunion? I never bothered to see it, I don’t trust Spike TV.

  34. Michael Jai White SHOULDN’T play Blade. He’s already doing a good job distancing himself from the “Wesley Snipes, Jr.” comments with stuff like Black Dynamite. It would be a step backwards.

  35. What actually is happening with TRUE/SOUTHERN JUSTICE then? I understand the laterst UK Seagal DTV release, the hilariously named DEADLY CROSSING, is actually just the first two episodes of the show squished together (or maybe the pilot), and I’ve heard they’re actually going to turn the TV series into six DTV psuedo features because no channel is interested in picking it up. Be a shame if true as I imagine as a TV series it would be a fun novelty, but as a series of films I suspect they would just be more mediocrity (although probably not his worst DTVs)

  36. _Latest_

  37. I’m afraid I haven’t seen any of the Blade movies yet, do I have to turn in my Vern fan club membership card?

    but not to worry, are they on blu ray? if so i promise to give them a Netflix rental soon

    on an unrelated note, I finally fulfilled one of my bucket list goals and watched the entire Back To The Future trilogy in one night, it was exhausting but fun, I think you should give those a review like you did all the Jaws one day Vern

  38. Griff: I’ve seen the first two BLADE films and really dislike them. If Vern was intolerant of this sort of thing, he’d have banned me ages ago. So I think you’re safe.

  39. By daring to contribute to this website, Blade-hating motherfuckers are always trying to ice-skate uphill.

  40. Mouth: I love you like a step-brother, but you never gave nobody else a chance to play their own music. That’s right, the people don’t come because you grandiose motherfuckers don’t play shit that they like. Simple as that.

  41. Jareth: “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

    Mouth: “Yes, I am.” {shoots Jareth in the face}

  42. Mouth, there’s no way I’m getting into a quote war with you. And I’m not just saying that because anyone who quotes NEW JACK CITY with such little effort is destined to win. No, I’m withdrawing for the good of the web site. Last time you threw down with a motherfucker the whole place crashed.

    But here are a couple awesome Snipes quotes to help us find common ground:

    “Versatility is what`s going to give them the longevity. The world is opening up and a lot more stories and a lot more interesting scenes to portray in film. Versatility will help them.”

    “I love the idea of the man to man, against one another. I like that. I don`t know why.”

  43. The ole magnanimous bow out in the guise of “withdrawing for the good of the web site” ploy, eh, JC? Not gonna get away with that shit, son! Go-go-gadget *old hilarious Snipes-quote*:

    “Can anybody step in for Mr. Cutestory?” {screen flickers}

    “Anybody? For Mr. Motherfucking March of Dimes?” {error message appears}

    {applies duct tape to Mouth’s mouth, slowly backs away from the keyboard}

  44. Jareth Cutestory

    January 6th, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    Note to self: Never get sassy with those Special Ops dudes. They play for keeps.

    Also, relocate family to witness protection.

  45. The first Blade should be displayed in the smithsonian and the second shown in schools all over the world. The third? well wtf am I talking about? there was no third.

  46. I can’t really say I disliked Blade Trinity that much. Sure, Dracula was handled poorly and it felt maybe a bit more “mass produced”, but I liked plenty of things about it. And I liked the other 2 as well, but it’s really weird for me how much praise II gets when I could have sworn at the time, the film was hated, to the point that Del Toro answered a criticism of the story by stressing he may have directed it, but he didn’t write it.
    I mean, like I said, I liked it, but there are things about it I could see people picking to slam it for
    -Whistler’s sacrifice in the first film being completely undone at the start of the second
    -I quite liked Scud, so making him a vampire spy all along was a bit disappointing for me
    -Blade, the Vampire Hunter working with Vampires so readily. If he’d said “fuck you”, and tried to tackle the new breed himself only to find out how formidable they were and how he needed to work with his enemies, that would have been better.
    -some of the vampires actually seeming a bit out of character for how they weren’t particularly evil or dislikeable, especially Nyssa who insists she’s at peace with being a Vampire, but doesn’t do anything particularly vampiric except drink blood when Blade forces her to, and is fairly useless as a fighter after her brief duel with Blade at the beginning. Jeez, two of the Bloodpack even have a doomed romance!
    -Some of the CGI work sticking out a bit
    -Luke Goss not being a patch on Deacon Forst (for my money anyway), as basically a Hobo with Daddy Issues
    -rehashing of elements from the first film, like Blade being captured, drained of blood, then freed and recovering by drinking a lot of blood, before catching his sunglasses and killing a load of guys, and the return of Matt Shulze.
    -the eastern European setting gives the movie a bit of a DTV feel despite it being theatrical. The first one isn’t trying as hard to be flashy, but doesn’t seem as cheap
    -Donnie Yen being underused
    -Light that bends round corners
    The only point I’d see in a reboot would be if Marvel reacquired the rights and worked Blade into their own movie universe, but the character wouldn’t even need to change that much. I would though like to see his actual origin of his mother being a victorian england prostitute though, to make Blade older and more experienced. We could then have a montage of him being a badass throughout the past century, showing him in different period wear and places, leading up to the present.

  47. Having never met Dracula, I can’t definitively say that he doesn’t look like an Egyptian gold salesman, so I can’t really argue with TRINITY’s depiction of him.

  48. On Donnie Yen being underused in Blade II – he wasn’t doing much else of note at the time anyway.

    How about Dallas-style call the last one a dream and wake up with Whistler still alive? That or Blade gets locked up in a prison full of vampires.

  49. Demolition Man just started on tv right now. I’ve never been sure what to make of Wesley as Simon Phoenix. On the one hand, he does seem to be like a black equivalent of The Joker in some respects, but on the other, he also seems like a bit of a bitch at times, and I know he can be more badass.

  50. To me Blade 2 was a very, very poor sequel to the original “Blade”. I particularly hated the “traitor” reveal, the fact that the much-hyped “Blood-pack” barely appeared in it (apart from Ron FuckMothering Perlman, who was great, but still under-utilised), and the fact that the fight scenes with Luke Goss were so obviously an actor who wasn’t a natural martial-artist playing a martial artist.

    But to take the point about the whole “traitor” thing, let’s take a scenario here.

    – There is a hero/heroine, and within that person’s group of close friends or intimates is a traitor. There are only two plausible suspects, X and Y.

    – “X” is frequently antagonistic to the hero/heroine, and may end up fighting them. X’s antagonism is often character-building towards the hero/heroine as a whole. If the group know there’s a traitor among them, X will be frequently singled out as a suspect. If Lawrence Fishburne is in this movie, he most probably plays X.

    – “Y” is socially slightly ineffective, but friendly and helpful. Y is never suspected by the people around him. He or she is of average height and build and is frequently the only person in the movie to wear glasses and / or a suit. Whenever it’s not made clear from early on that “Y” can’t be trusted, there is manufactured conflict concerning them – for example, professional rivalry, sexual jealousy – in order to disguise the fact that Y really has no reason for appearing in the film.

    Predictable, isn’t it? Thankfully this particular pattern doesn’t appear very often in film. Offhand I can only think of “Blade 2”, “Scream 3”, “Mission Impossible 3”, “The Matrix”, “My Bloody Valentine” (both versions), “Cherry Falls”, “The Thing” (Carpenter’s version), “The Spiral Staircase”, “Urban Legend”, “Urban Legend 2”, “Urban Legend 3” (yeah, that series gets the hat-trick), “I still know what you did last Summer”, “Prom Night”, “Sleepaway Camp”, “Sorority Row”, “A Perfect Getaway”, “Minority Report”, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”, “Air Force One” (again, not a mystery, but the same two characters appear, for some unknown reason since neither of them actually do anything of significance in the entire film), “Die Hard 2” (a rare example where the traitor is the black guy), “Passenger 57” (the two stewardesses), “Karate Kid 3”, “The Bourne Supremacy”, etc. Other than those and a few other movies I’ve probably forgotten about and pretty much every second movie ever made with a “surprise” bad guy, there aren’t that many, are there?

    Seriously, I hope to God that screenwriters decide to never use this stupid dumbshit plot device again and again. When it’s supposed to be a surprise, there’s basically no way left to frame it so that people don’t see it coming; and when it’s not meant to be a surprise, it just looks tired. Can somebody explain to me why “Blade 2” even NEEDED a traitor?

  51. Wait, who was the surprise traitor in Karate Kid 3? Terry Silver was shown to be plotting against Daniel from the beginning. Or is Daniel the traitor for going after the Bonsai tree behind Mr. Miyagi’s back?
    Another one that was annoying for me was in THE DARK KNIGHT. I mean, there’s a big foreshadowing closeup on the eventual traitor’s face long before they’re actually revealed as such. Not to mention their motivation is mentioned once at the very start of the movie and conveniently never brought up again.
    We also need directors/cinematographers to shoot scenes so that the “shocking” sudden death of a character actually is that. I mean, if the shot puts the person in the middle with a conspicuously large open space behind them being noticable, you can be sure something is about to jump into/out of that space and kill their ass. See Sam Jackson in DEEP BLUE SEA. This also applies to people standing near windows, where the window takes up 2/3 of the screen, like 2 seconds before this person is shot by a sniper.

  52. Around the same timeframe, 2002-2003, Donnie Yen was underused in SHANGHAI KNIGHTS, but that movie was still awesome.

  53. Forgot to add, I think one good example of a shocking traitor reveal is in THE DEPARTED. I thought for sure Marky Mark was going to turn out to be that guy, because his character is totally unnecessary the plot. Even having seen the HK original, I totally overlooked the guy who would actually turn out to be that character, based so much on that formula Paul points out. Unfortunately, they use Marky Mark for a completely different stupid thing at the end of the movie.

  54. If I remember rightly, Donnie Yen did the fight choreography for Blade 2. He was also starring in a HK tv series abuot Chen Zhen.

  55. Yen was one of three fight choreographers on Blade II. There was also Wesley’s usual guy and some other dude.

  56. Stu,

    “I mean, if the shot puts the person in the middle with a conspicuously large open space behind them being noticable, you can be sure something is about to jump into/out of that space and kill their ass.”

    I know what you mean, but there is something to say about the use of shots like this to create suspense or toy with the audience. I.E. you get more excited because you realize something is about to happen.

  57. I think the most obvious one is the medium shot of someone crossing a road. You just know a curiously silent bus is coming from offscreen left.

  58. Oh yeah. Final Destination did a really terrible version of that where the person getting run over was on the far right of the screen, with the left totally empty, so you knew exactly what was coming.
    As for Yen in Blade 2, I just meant he was underused on-screen(and they admit as much in the commentary), but if he was in fact a choreographer, props to him for not hogging up things. Incidentally, the commentary for Blade 2 is pretty fun. They joke around a lot and talk about future ideas for the movies, showing Snipes was pretty passionate about the franchise.

  59. BRIDE OF CHUCKY did it best.

  60. STU: If you mean the first FINAL DESTINATION, you are wrong, because the only scene I remember where someone gets hit by a bus, was shot pretty close to the actor. If you talk about one of the sequels, I didn’t see and/or can’t remember them.

  61. Or, I like when someone is driving a car in a thriller, and the camera is sort of in the passenger seat facing the driver, and you can see down the street out the driverside window. You know that a another car is going to come barreling down the road and crash into them.

    and the Coen Bros weirdly subverted that cliche in NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, when Anton gets in the car crash. You can see clearly out his side window, but then his car is hit from the OTHER side where you audience couldn’t see anything coming.

  62. CJ: So you’re right
    Still pretty obvious what was going to happen though with the positioning, only you expect the bus to come from the rigt side with her standing on the left.

  63. But to be fair, back then it wasn’t such a cliche. (I even think it might be one of the first examples where we see someone get run over with a bus, without a cut to a dummy or an obvious stunt person, who gets hit only hard enough to make it look dramatic.)

    Also funny story about FINAL DESTINATION and jump scares: There is the scene where the kids go to the morgue to see their dead friends, but suddenly his corpse twitches. When I saw it in theatre I was right at the moment taking a sip from my coke cup, so the lower half of the screen was for me covered by it. Therefore I couldn’t see what was going on, but everybody around me suddenly jumped out of their seats, which scared me. :D

  64. (spoilers for BLADE 2)

    Paul, you’re staring at the mustard and not seeing the hot dog. The point of that twist in BLADE 2 is not to shock the audience with Scud being a traitor, it’s to show how awesome Blade is that he deliberately allowed a traitor inside his operation in order to get the information he needed. And had a bomb implanted in him. At the same time it/s another great moment to show you the strength of Blade’s relationship with Whistler. Earlier it seemed like he was suspicious of Whistler having been among the vampires, saying to keep your friends close and enemies closer as if insinuating that Whistler is the enemy. But in retrospect you realize that Blade was in fact tipping Whistler off to what he was doing with Scud, since this started while Whistler was away.

    In conclusion, go watch Blade 2 again.

  65. When you think about it, that should be the conclusion of every post.

  66. Correction:
    When you think about it, that should be the conclusion of every post.

    In conclusion, go watch Blade 2 again.

  67. I don’t care what plot contortions you have to concoct, if you have a Boondock Saint in your movie, you blow that fucker up.

    In conclusion, go watch Blade 2 again.

  68. I also want to say that , in my opinion , in Blade 2 , it’s good to have an actor who is not a martial artist play a more brutal , desperate kind of villain . Think about it , Nomak and his new breed of vampires are more like animals than the others , having them do all kinds of technical martial-arts stunts , seems like a bad idea . Instead you get more brutal fights with Nomak and the new breed, and if you really want to see well choreographed action sequences , with a display of martial-arts skill and with Snipes at his best , well , you get that too .
    Everybody wins , and the movie feels very different from the first one !

    In conclusion, go watch Blade 2 again.

  69. Luke Goss was really good as Nomak, actually made him almost sympathetic.

    In conclusion, go watch Blade 2 again.

  70. The opening scene of Blade II is an unbelievably cool triple misdirect.

    In conclusion, go watch Blade 2 again.

  71. Some people say that PAN’S LABYRINTH was Guillermo Del Toro’s best film, but I think a careful viewing of a certain other film of his will reveal otherwise.

    In conclusion, go watch BLADE 2 again.

  72. Vern – true. But the audience isn’t in on it. And Blade’s “suspicions” of Whistler are so obviously a misdirect that it had me slapping my head. Also Blade doesn’t NEED Scud, traitor or not, before he’s approached by the bloodpack in the first place. (Unless he knew about the plans for the reaper-vampires before they actually appeared, of course. In which case, go Blade!) Plus the traitor has access to all Blade’s operation whenever Blade is out of the place, which is – I dunno – every single night? And I can’t think of a single reason why he didn’t just let an army of vampires into Blade’s house one of those times when Blade was out and the vampires had no “use” for him.

    Y’know what would’ve been vaguely clever, in a sort of Sixth Sense-like “well it really makes no sense, but let’s roll with it” kind of way? If it turned out Scud’s real treachery was thinning out the excess vampires who were “turning” all of the humans so that the ruling classes could have more human necks to feed on. Nothing like that actually occurs.

    But the worst thing about Scud is he’s one of the myriad of things in “Blade 2” that distract from the stuff that actually works – Ny’assa, the blood pack. Those are the parts of the film that I liked, for all of the fifteen minutes they’re in it. (Oh, and the opening scene with Luke Goss at the blood bank is pretty good too.)

    The rest of it – the incredibly long dark boring sewer scenes (which are never tense because now we know exactly who’s expendable), the fights between Blade and Goss, the stuff with Scud, I couldn’t care less about.

    And also, for the record, let me get this out here now: Kris Kristofferson isn’t playing “Whistler” in Blade 2. I remember “Whistler” from Blade 1, dammit. I LIKED that guy. The guy in Blade 2 is played by the same actor, sure, but don’t tell me it’s the same character. The relationship between Whistler and Blade? Gone (in an effort for the filmmakers to set up the dumb Scud twist, they make Whistler suspect #2 instead, which pretty much blows the relationship between Blade and him). Remember how badass Whistler was in Blade 1? Yeah, that’s gone as well. In fact, nearly everything I liked about Whistler in Blade 1 pretty much disappears in Blade 2. Same actor, no character.

    In conclusion (and I actually don’t mean this, but I can’t see a bandwagon without jumping on it), go watch Blade 2 again.

  73. billydeethrilliams

    January 7th, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    Did you guys know that moreno valley is experiencing water/flood damage?

  74. Man, this website has really been “flooded” with MVWD comments.

    In conclusion, go watch Blade 2 again.

  75. Luke Goss is starring in the DTV sequel to the remake of DEATH RACE BTW. It came out in the UK this week

  76. ^ Hmmm I might look into that. Never saw the first but without “WHAT SHIT” Anderson at the helm it might be a more appealing experience. In conclusion, go watch BLADE 2 again.

  77. For how long will Snipes stay in jail ? One year or more ?

  78. In conclusion, I really am watching Blade 2 again now. It’s been too long.

  79. A DTV sequel of the “Death Race” remake. It’s like they purposefully package them so that I won’t see them… Anybody taking any bets on whether this is going to be another “Universal Soldier: Regeneration” or another “Three Ninjas go to Mega Mountain”?

  80. Judging from the tv commercials I’ve seen, it looks like a lower budget rehash. Ving Rhames, Danny Trejo and Sean Bean are in it too. And it’s a Prequel, actually, about Frankenstein. Maybe we’ll find out the origin of the phrase “We’ll see who shits on the sidewalk”?

  81. Ving Rhames, eh? My feelings about that one are mixed. On the one hand, my reaction is “What the hell has he got himself into?” On the other, he proved in “Undisputed” that he can be the one thing that makes a not-very-good movie watchable, so maybe he’ll do the same thing here also.

    As for the other two, well, Trejo is in pretty much every film ever made, so no surprise there; whereas Sean Bean is the kind of actor that you have to ask yourself “What the hell is he doing in this crap?” and then take a step back and think “Oh wait, I’ve said that about every film of his for the last five years”.

  82. Also, a prequel about FRANKENSTEIN? Did they make the “Death Race” remake very, very different to the original, or did my mind just explode? Wasn’t the whole point that “Frankenstein” doesn’t even exist – he’s just a legend hyped up by the producers and played by a different guy every year?

  83. FWIW: I had the chance to speak with Zoe Bell last year and confirmed that she at least knew there was another Game of Death. She agreed it was an unfortunate title. I like Vern’s idea, they should have really made it a Wesley stunt double film.

    I thought the trailer looked like it had good martial arts, which if a DTV at least delivers that then it’s above the pack. I know, it’s not Universal Soldier V or Ninja, but it’s something. I don’t know, I haven’t given any DTV Snipes movies a chance yet. Been busy seeing all of Scott Adkins and Isaac Florentine’s.

  84. Well I waited for DVD, and did get a chance to see this one. Wouldn’t have minded if I hadn’t though. I agree 100% with Vern about its flaws, but take issue with what he says works: “Despite competent filmatism and the best efforts of a strong-for-DTV cast…”

    As far as the cast goes, I don’t know what any of these people are doing in this movie. They’re all wasted. As Vern said in his review, the characters speak entirely in exposition and cliches. I like Zoe Bell but she has absolutely nothing to do here. Ditto Robert Davi. As for Snipes… let’s just say that if I have any bias, it’s probably a negative one (from everything I’ve read about him I find him completely unlikeable) and while I acknowledge that this is partly because I haven’t seen his “best” work, GAME OF DEATH does not fall into that category and does not convince me in any way that I’m wrong. The best thing I can say about him is that he has more on-screen charisma than he did in BLADE 3. And that’s damning with very, very, very faint praise, ’cause he barely showed up in BLADE 3. As for “best efforts”, I’ve seen what these actors can do when they can be arsed. They don’t do any of it here. I think most of that is due to the script and direction rather than to any fault with the actors themselves, but still… If you liked Bell in, say, DEATH PROOF, and wanted to see more of the natural charm and charisma that she exuded in that film, this is not the film to get, because none of it is on display here.

    As for the competent filmatism… ok, the editing of this movie drove me mad. There are zoom-in-zoom-out transitions used all over the place for no reason, odd colour filters, some weird effect that I don’t know the name of but which involves putting a semi-transparent close-up of part of the onscreen footage “over the top” of the same less-close-up footage in the background so you’re essentially seeing the same thing twice, weird repeated jump-cuts during action scenes which I think are supposed to give the impression of speed but actually give the impression of “The film was missing half a dozen frames”, and much, much more. This thing has more avid farts than the worst excesses of Tony Scott.

    Yeah, this is badly-filmed formulaic charmless garbage. I paid about twenty-five pence for it in the second-hand store and I’d say that’s about right. This doesn’t so much suffer from being bad as from having a total absence of anything worthwhile. It feels like it was made to fill a quota or something, like some studio head said “We need to make another action movie before next summer or we lose our contract with the studios. Who’s available to get this thing done quick and cheap?” It doesn’t feel like something anybody could’ve been passionate about. It’s not the worst thing I’ve ever seen – hell, it’s not the worst experience I’ve had with a film this week – but I cannot recommend it to anybody, even fans of Snipes.

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