Renegade Cinema Staff Picks: Deadly Games Movies

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 Staff Picks: Deadly Games Movies

 

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Hard Target

Calibertholomew Winfield: There are quite a few films like this; Most Dangerous Game, Surviving The Game, Running Man. But none of them have maximum Van Dammage! John Woo gets behind the lens and delivers one the most fun action movies you’ll ever see. Van Damme plays a man down south who’s a bit of a rogue, and helps a woman find her father, who ended up killed in a game where men hunt the homeless. Tons of bullets, slow motion scenes, explosions, kicks, and everything else you could want. Hard Target is a fucking blast, and something everyone needs to see.

 

Sleuth movie image Michael Caine and Jude Law

Sleuth

Bethany Lewis: My pick is Sleuth, both the original 1972 version with Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine, and the 2007 remake with Jude Law and Michael Caine. Both are so deliciously zany, deviously witty, and frighteningly twisted. They both play upon the connection between rivals in love, both the antagonistic nature and the simultaneous camaraderie of that rivalry. The woman in question is never seen, but that’s because the connection they share is not about the woman they both love – it’s about their shared love of twisted mind games and theatricality. As the movies progress, the men escalate from one dangerous game to another, moving from frivolity to possible death from moment to moment. Michael Caine plays the young lover, Milo Tindle, in the original Anthony Schaffer-penned movie, alongside the veteran Laurence Olivier as the jilted husband. While the 1972 version played heavily on mind games and homoeroticism, it can be argued that it was heightened and improved in the 2007 remake with the help of a new screenplay by the master of underplayed sinisterness, Harold Pinter. Now veteran Michael Caine plays the jilted husband, while Jude Law plays the young lover. I’ll be looking forward to a remake in another 30 years when Jude Law takes over as the jilted husband.

 

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SAW

Brandon Groppi:  James Waan’s film based off one of his short films, presented us with a scenario and a now iconic film character . . . who really was shoved in our faces after the 7 or 8 sequels this film got but I digress. The first SAW film gave us a great thriller about a fiend who took people with questionable morals and intertwining paths and put them in a scenario that would eventually put them in a life threatening game. And the fiend was Jigsaw. Jigsaw had a twisted mind but had some sort of good intention in mind. Albeit insane, but he had an intention. If you haven’t seen the first SAW I suggest you do. The rest is just gore porn schlock that’s trying to suck every bit of money out of the franchise as possible.

 

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Battle Royale

Mike Luxemberg: I had to make time to mention Battle Royale here. In my mind that film is THE standard for dangerous game movies. It’s one of the most powerful romantic plots I’ve ever seen, and that is paired with exhilarating cinematography, tremendous acting, and the sort of action that demands you check your blood pressure. It was one of the fist movies of its sort that I saw as a younger person, and it’s still my favorite. I’ll never forget the looks of confused terror on the students faces when they learn they have to kill their friends. Those moments are only topped by the incredible emotions evoked by the deaths themselves.

Tamica Phipps: I’ll go ahead and pick Battle Royale. Although I am not a fan of reading subtitles, I could not take my eyes off of this movie. Some people have very sick minds to pull off something like this movie. That is all.

 

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The Game

Patricia Márquez: David Fincher’s The Game! Every time I watch this movie I find it even more deep and meaningful the second time around. **Spoilers** Michael Douglas plays an incredibly wealthy businessman (I mean like SUPER rich) who’s estranged from his loved ones, including his wife and baby brother. So he’s got it all, material-wise, but he’s not very happy and is rather petulant and morose. When he was young, he saw his father commit suicide on his 48th birthday, which also contributes to his haunted persona. Well now his birthday is approaching and he’s turning 48, and his drifter brother (Sean Penn) decides to give him a little “present” for his birthday. The present is not little, and it’s not good. Basically he has to take this psychological and physical test at some top-secret organization (CRS), and afterwards, everything around him begins to fall apart. His job is jeopardized after he’s framed for a crime he didn’t commit. Someone leaves a creepy clown-doll in his driveway and it’s obvious he’s being watched and followed. He becomes crazy with paranoia. Even baby brother Sean Penn claims something nefarious is going on. He meets a beautiful waitress and soon they are on the run together… until he suspects she’s in on the Game too. They shoot up her house; they even try to drown him in his car. Eventually they capture him and bury him alive in the middle-of-nowhere Mexico. Now he has to walk a foreign country with no valuables, no ID, nothing. Even immigration doesn’t want to help him. When he finally sells his watch to get smuggled back to the states, he finds his mansion foreclosed. He manages to locate CRS’s headquarters and takes the waitress hostage on a roof. She realizes that his gun isn’t fake and admits that the whole thing was an elaborate hoax. As people try to break down the door, he must decide if she’s lying or not. The door bursts open, and he fires! It’s his brother and all these guests and they have champagne. He just killed his baby brother! He’s so upset he jumps off the roof to commit suicide and his life flashes before his eyes… but then he lands on an inflatable air bag and is saved and joined by his loved ones. “Happy birthday!” everyone says. His brother is alive and they hug. It’s a happy ending, you see. So the whole thing WAS a hoax, you see, and it was the ultimate Game, and the ultimate present. In stripping everything away from him, and in the end even taking away his life for the briefest of moments, his brother forced him to see clearly that life is precious and meaningful.

But… I’ve always wondered something. What if the happy ending is just part of his death vision? What if his pessimism really did lead him to fire upon his brother and the guests? If you think of it that way, The Game is incredibly deep. It’s also just a suspenseful ride, start to finish, even if you already do know the ending.

 

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Death Race 2000

Shawn S. Lealos: One of the original game movies that featured people killing to win. In a dystopian future, the U.S. has turned into a dictatorship and the President holds an annual race across the country. The winner is not just the person who makes it across the fastest, but their score is also based on how many pedestrians they kill. David Carradine is the awesome Frankenstein and the plot of the movie is actually about a resistance effort that wants to disrupt the race and kill the President. However, that doesn’t discount the awesome kills by Carradine and his main opponent Sylvester Stallone, including the great hospital scene with the old folks set up in the street.

 

So, there you have the Renegade Cinema staff picks for Best Deadly Games movies. Do you agree, disagree, have a choice of your own? Let us know your favorites in the comment section below.

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About the Author

Shawn S. Lealos
Shawn is a film critic with over 25 years of experience in print and online media. He is a member of the Oklahoma Film Critics Circle and loves everything from critically acclaimed movies to B-level action flicks.
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