Forgotten Action Cinema: Surviving the Game

Before he was solving cases with The Belz on “Law & Order: SVU”, Ice-T was running for his life in director Ernest R. Dickerson’s 1994 offering “Surviving the Game”, a movie loosely based on author Richard Connell’s “The Most Dangerous Game”. The film — a subtle critique of how people with natty dreads are often violently exploited by wealthy white people and their one African-American friend — follows the adventures of a homeless chap named Jack Mason. Poor Jack has had a rough time of it lately, and from the looks of things, his future doesn’t look much brighter. To make matters worse, his wife and daughter are dead, his best friend is a cranky old bum, and his meals are often salvaged from the fetid bowels of a back alley garbage can. However, things start to look up when Jack is offered a job escorting a group of rich white folks through the woods, an innocent proposal that soon turns extremely deadly. These hunters aren’t interested in the local wildlife. They’re huntin’ humans, and Jack is their unsuspecting prey. All of this nonsense allows F. Murray Abraham, Rutger Hauer, Charles S. Dutton, John C. McGinley, and the always-amusing Gary Busey to chew scenery like their very lives depended upon it. With the exception of Mason, every character is despicable, and watching them die in a variety of mildly imaginative ways never grows tiresome. Dutton’s demise is by the far the most amusing, though Busey’s probably has the best one-liner. The entire flick is as dumb as it sounds, but Ice-T’s curious lisp and Dickerson’s penchant for over-the-top action make for some damn fine Sunday afternoon entertainment.