Wednesday, 20 April 2011



Political aside: I don't believe that tax fraudsters should be jailed. Upon being found guilty, they should have all their assets seized and sold to the total owed, and anything still owed after that should be recouped by the strictest Attachment Of Earnings Orders possible. Prison spaces are scarce and I'd rather they were taken up by rapists and burglars - people who cannot commit those crimes while locked up because there's a dozen locked metal doors and dirty great wall covered in razor wire between them and the outside - than fraudsters who cannot even attempt to pay off their debts while locked up. One such tax fraudster, bizarrely, is Wesley Snipes, who is scheuled to spend the next two years as an extra at the McKean Federal Correctional Institution in Pennsylvania. Should have paid your taxes like normal people do, you idiot. But I don't know what good locking him up can do - he owes millions and now he can't work towards paying them off until July 2013. (Facts, if that's what they are, from Wikipedia.)

Anyway, pretty much the last thing he made before his Porridge remake was Game Of Death: nothing to do with Bruce Lee's Game Of Death, which was famously cobbled together after the great man's death. Rather it's a meaninglessly titled DTV thudfest in which Snipes is an undercover CIA agent trying to bring down international arms dealer Robert Davi - until his team decide to break ranks and steal the hundred million dollars (presumably tax free) Davi's about to pick up. Unfortunately Davi has a heart attack and the first hour of the movie turns into Die Hard In A Hospital, as Snipes tries to get to Davi in the intensive care wing and take down the villains.

It isn't very good, really: there's some limited fun to be had with the crunchy arm-breaking, ass-kicking and repeated blows to the face. But for every crowd-pleasing combat sequence there are two more in which they run around empty hospital corridors aimlessly firing guns at each other. Davi, who isn't the villain despite being a billionaire arms merchant, isn't given much to do beyond look ill in a wheelchair or on a hospital trolley, and there's a lack of top-notch explosive action, despite what you see on the cover artwork. Several scenes were obviously pretty dull to start with, so they've tried to juice them up with Tony Scott-style visual distractions - black-and-white, split-screen, flashbacks, slo-mo, fast-mo, double exposure, grainy stock effects - but, as ever, they're more irritating than exciting.

It's a competent enough if silly time waster with a few semi-decent bits of violent action (mainly the climactic act of righteous bone-snapping justice doled out to head villain Gary Daniels), but there are misjudgements as well, such as a baffling sequence involving mental patients which just doesn't belong in the film at all. Overall it doesn't really work and, oddly enough, the best thing about it is Snipes. But he's done much better in the past (action-wise in Passenger 57, acting-wise in One Night Stand) and this really isn't up to standard; it's passingly fun while it's on but not much more than that.


Game on:

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