Plot: Mason (Ice T) has just lost his two best friends, a fellow homeless man he was close with and his beloved canine companion. Tired of the constant suffering and lack of hope in his life, he considers suicide, but a charity worker named Cole (Charles S. Dutton) intervenes before that happens. Cole is sympathetic and has helped countless men in similar situations as Mason, so he offers to lend a hand. As part of an outreach program, Mason is given a place to stay for a while and the offer of some work, a position as a field guide for some hunters. If Mason agrees, he can collect a healthy stack of cash and with no other options, he jumps at the chance. Soon he is taken to a remote wooded area with a group of hunters, who indulge in a lavish pre-hunt routine, before settling to rest up for the actual hunt. But what Mason doesn’t know is that these hunters require a more sophisticated prey than mere forest creatures…

Entertainment Value: A b movie action style take on The Most Dangerous Game, this one is a wild ride that rarely slows down and is populated by colorful characters, not to mention some terrific action set pieces. Surviving the Game has an effective, chilling narrative, one that doesn’t seem that far fetched, as wealthy businessmen look to hunt the homeless for sport. Given the obsession with big game hunting for some rich folks, this kind of sadistic plot is almost believable and a premise that several other films have explored from various approaches. The pace here is kinetic and once the hunt begins, shifts to an even more breakneck rate and guides through scene after scene of well crafted, fun to watch action sequences. And while the set pieces aren’t massive, the movie delivers a diverse and often creative assortment of scenarios here, all of which entertain. The tone is serious and even dark at times, but also rich in b movie vibes, mostly from the over the top performances and colorful characters, as well as some memorable on liners and exchanges. This is a movie that packs in plenty of action, keeps a tight pace, and delivers an experience that genre fans should embrace, so Surviving the Game earns a high recommendation.

I love the cast in this movie, an eclectic ensemble of talent that runs with the interesting, often over the top characters. Ice T has the lead and turns in his usual aggressive, anger fueled performance, which suits Mason just fine. His raw, bombastic persona is a nice conflict with the performers in the hunter roles, though they too eventually give over to the scene chewing style. Ice T is also believable as a survive at all costs kind of dude, using whatever he can to fend off the attackers, so while perhaps not a traditional action hero, he is a wise choice for this role. Rutger Hauer is a lot of fun here as well, as a cold blooded, refined gentleman who just happens to take pleasure in hunting humans. He is able to go a little nuts when called for, but his restrained, ice cold presence is a great contrast with Ice T’s hot tempered Mason. Gary Busey dials up his performance as usual and is a total blast in this one, though I do wish he had more screen time. The cast also includes William McNamara, Charles S. Dutton, F. Murray Abraham, and John C. McGinley, while Ernest Dickerson directs.

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