After the creative and commercial highs of films like New Jack City, Jungle Fever, White Men Can’t Jump, The Waterdance and even the original Blade, it didn’t seem like the most plausible career path for Wesley Snipes — a string of anonymous, C-grade, mostly internationally-lensed action flicks, followed by incarceration for tax evasion. That’s how it shook out, however. And it’s those long-lingering legal/financial woes, which for years prior to his 2010 sentencing hung over Snipes’ head like a comic strip’s black rain cloud, that most likely explain the existence of something like Game of Death, another yawning, paycheck-inspired action programmer in which, you know, a CIA hit man is caught up between shady underworld-types and those at his agency that would double-cross him.
Snipes stars as Marcus Jones, a special agent tasked with cozying up next to a mobster named Smith (Robert Davi). A pair of rogue agents, Zander (Gary Daniels) and Floria (Zoë Bell, of Kill Bill stunt double
and later Grindhouse fame), try to frame Jones and kill him to boot, and escape and other on-the-fly, name-clearing shenanigans then ensue.
Director Giorgio Serafini does the material no great favors of elevation by ladling on stylistic excess and gimmickry in orgiastic fashion. A straighter, simpler, grittier visual scheme and emotional template would have worked far better here. Snipes, too, seems (perhaps understandably) depressed and bored — just going through the motions. There’s no real pop or excitement here, either in execution or narrative adventurousness. Additionally, just in passing, the DVD front and back cover art does Bell no favors, featuring some terrible airbrushing that makes her look like Jeremy Renner. Yikes!
Housed in a regular plastic Amaray case, Game of Death comes to DVD presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, with an English language Dolby digital 5.1 soundtrack, and optional English SDH and Spanish subtitles. Special features consist of a half dozen very short behind-the-scenes featurettes that explore the movie’s Detroit location shoot and other various aspects of the production, interspersing film clips with rah-rah, back-slapping interview footage. A small collection of trailers for other Sony DVD releases rounds out the material. To purchase the DVD via Amazon, click here. D (Movie) C+ (Disc)