10/03/2011

Assassination Games (2011)

Assassination Games (2011)-* *

AKA: Weapon

Directed by: Ernie Barbarash 

Starring: Jean-Claude Van Damme and Scott Adkins





"If I don't feel, am I really alive?"






Vincent Brazil (Van Damme) is a rather stoic hitman. Roland Flint (Adkins) is also a hitman. Both men have as their latest target one Polo (Kaye), a ruthless murderer, torturer and drug runner. Naturally, at first Flint and Roland don’t get along, but they come together because of their common goal of killing Polo. Both have different reasons for wanting this: Brazil’s is pure business, but Flint has much more personal motivations. Who will win the ASSASSINATION GAMES?

We really, really wanted to like this movie. We gave it a ton of slack. We had high hopes. But the simple fact is, unfortunately, Assassination Games just isn’t that great. It’s not offensively BAD per se, but it’s so unbelievably cliched, and is so predictable, and without so much as a wink to the audience, it grates on the viewer. If there isn’t one speck of originality, and there are cliches in EVERY scene, and it’s totally paint by numbers, that’s one thing. But the movie takes itself so seriously, you have to wonder if the filmmakers knew just how hugely cliched it was, or if they actually thought it was original. In fact, in one scene alone, they manage to fit in three classic cliches: “He’s the best”, “No loose ends”, and “No more mistakes”. I would say they were doing it to save time, but this movie is overlong, so it can’t be that.

To be fair, there are some cool moments, which include the “Auto-gun” thingy (not to be confused with the President’s Auto-pen, who I’m told is mounting an election bid in 2012), and Scott Adkins gives an admirably non-phoned-in performance, but the movie has that modern, washed-out, green look that so many movies have had in the 2000’s. That in itself is an irritating cliche, as if normal film doesn’t exist. And when it’s announced on screen in the beginning of the movie, “Bucharest, Romania”, we thought, “do they even have to say this any more?” Isn’t it just kind of assumed at this point?

Plus there are some stupid CGI gun muzzle flashes, as if THEY didn’t exist prior to 2011. Is it really easier to do it that way? Do they think audiences like seeing Playstation 1-style graphics horribly mutilated into a piece of film? Why is that somehow BETTER? Can anyone answer this?

What’s funny is Van Damme is so Damme wooden in this movie, he makes Don "The Dragon" Wilson look like Klaus Kinski. But Van Damme was a producer on this film, and usually in his co-produced movies he cares, so it can’t be a matter of not caring, it’s just a hilarious choice of woodenness. The power team of Adkins and Van Damme is out in force once again after the far superior The Shepherd (2008), and if you have to see one Van Damme/Adkins team-up, that would be the one. Interestingly, in The Shepherd, Van Damme has a pet bunny, and in Assassination Games, he has a pet turtle. Moving on...

I’m surprised it took us to this point in the review to mention this, as it’s pretty important, as well as evident, but this movie is pretty much a carbon copy of The Mechanic (2011) with Statham. We can’t list all the similarities here for space reasons, but let’s just say, if you do a double feature, watch the Mechanic first. You may get a feeling of Deja Van Vu...

As much as we wish it could go in the Van Damme win pile, sadly it cannot. Adkins tries hard to rescue the sinking ship, but he can’t. Only Van Damme or Adkins fans should play this Game.

Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett

33 comments:

Jack Thursby said...

Damn, sad to hear this one's not up to scratch. Adkins is one of the few new DTV action stars who isn't a former wrestler and he was really good in Ninja/Undisputed2&3.

Might give this a watch when it comes on TV.

Explosive Action said...

Great review. Shame this was such a pile of cliche; I still haven't had the chance yet - I'm hoping I like it more than you did. Love the Bunny vs Turtle analogy, haha.

Ty said...

Jack: It was unfortunate that this was a dud. Scott Adkins did a good job though! He is always entertaining.

Explosive Action: Thanks! It was kind of sad, it had a lot of potential. Sometimes too many cliches are a bad thing. Definitely interested in your opinion though!

venom said...

Well I perosnally odn't mind film has several cliches as long it's entertaining, and I really enjoyed The Mechanic remake, so i'll probably like this one as well.

MarkusWelby1 said...

Sounds like this one should be passed up. I'd like to see Van Damme return to the B-level greatness of Hard Target. He hasn't been the same ass kicking mulleted hero since even though he sported one in Timecop. Kind of hard to follow up the greatness of Hard Target though IMO.

Ty said...

Venom: We are not anti-cliche, but in this movie it is just unbearable, it needed more twists instead of the basic storytelling.

The Mechanic remake was a lot better than this.

MarkusWelby1: We completely agree! Van Damme has never been the same after the cut the mullet. His newer output isn't all bad however. We have reviews coming for The Shepherd and Universal Solider: Regeneration which are good newer Van Dammes.

Dr. Blacksteed said...

"Damme wooden" - good one. I really hate it when you set out determined to like something and it just doesn't happen. Hatchet was like that for me.

Ty said...

Yeah we wanted to like AG, but unfortunately it was disappointing. I agree that Hatchet was weak and it tried too hard.

venom said...

Well that's how I felt about Drive, every critic was practically orgasming over how great it was, and I went in really wanting to love it, but I just wasn't all that impressed by it overall, it wasn't a bad film but I would hardly call it a masterpiece. At the very least AG HAS to be better then the incredibly boring and mediocre "In Hell" and the sloppy and misguided "The Quest"

Matthew Conway said...

How is it possible for Van Damme to go back to these shit-sandwich movies after he acknowledged how crappy he had become in JCVD? I don't get it.

Ty said...

Venom: Totally agree about Drive. It was good, but no masterpiece. Too much hype. We thought In Hell and The Quest has it's moments, but overall there were just ok.

Matthew: Good point! He must be afraid to branch out again like he did in JCVD or Until Death.

venom said...

Is anyone else impatient at how long it's taking for The Eagle Path to get released?

venom said...

Another weak Van Damme film is Legionnaire, it's pretty easy to see why that film never went to theaters.

Ty said...

About The Eagle Path: It is definitely taking too long to get released! Wonder what the hold-up is?

About Legionnaire: You're right, it was a weak Van Damme flick. It could have been way better.

hellford667 said...

this was just awful, in any way...I dont get the fact that Van Damme does 3, 4 DTVs, and doesnt care about quality no more..he badmouthed his old movies, that made him famous, but yet he puts out carp like this, his fight against Kamsing wont ever see the light of day , and he did that Behind Closed Doors serial, that showed he needs a psychiatrist bad, its sad to see your former hero walking this path.

venom said...

I also wasn't too big on The Hard Corps, now THAT film definitely suffered from cliches big time, plus it was kinda on the slow side and there wasn't a whole lot in the way of action. Does AG at lest have good action scenes?

Ty said...

Hellford667: It is a shame that Van Damme bad-mouthed his old good movies. We never heard about that. Have you seen Derailed? That was crud of the highest order.

Venom: The best part about the Hard Corps was the silly rap song at the end. The action isn't bad, Adkins does what he can to save it.

venom said...

Heh, I actually liked Derailed somewhat, guess that's cause i'm a sucker for Die-Hard-on-a-train films like Under Siege 2, Hostage Train, Death Train, The Last Siege, and Death, Deceit, And Terror Aborad The Orient Express( which the most hilariously overblown title i've ever heard). Hard Corps wasn't bad, it just didn't really feel much like a Van Damme film.

thevideovacuum said...

I didn't know this was out yet. I'll have to check it out. Adkins is rapidly becoming one of my favorite action guys; so I'm more curious to see how he fares in this. I liked The Shepherd a lot so I'm hopeful.

Ty said...

Venom: We love your list of "Die Hard on a Train" films. Do you like any other "Die Hard on a..." movies?

Videovacuum: Adkins is also one of our favorites, The Shepherd is the better of the two Van Damme\Adkins vehicles!

hellford667 said...

AG doesnt have a lot of action, really, it tries to much to be a drama , its always bad if the story cant decide, what its going to be, drama or action flick...im sick and tired of movies shot in eastern europe, just because its cheap.
A good story isnt hard to come by, if one wanted to find one. Instead they go for the most stupid stories, that have been done a million times over. Also, a very tight filming schedule, that doesnt even allow for more elaborate fight scenes. The director is a hack. The last Unisols movie also didnt find grace in my eyes, because violence alone doesnt make a good movie,its uninspired , stupid action.
They just don`t take chances anymore, they only care for the numbers. At this budget, they will always make some money, no matter if its a good or a bad movie. There are always enough stupid ppl left to recover the costs.

robotGEEK said...

Aw man, that's a bummer. Ah well, at least you just saved me a rental. :)

Ty said...

Hellford667: We can't agree more with your comment! The washed out look of the movie was annoying too. This should have been in the win column.

RobotGEEK: :-) If you can rent it at your library, it is decent, and Scott Adkins brought the goods, but don't waste 5 bucks on a rental.

venom said...

Hmmm, an action film that tries to be more of a drama, that's what alot of people said about Lundgren's recent film "The Killing Machine" I actually like that approach, and I can deal with a "washed out" sometimes that look can be quite effective in films like "The Book Of Eli"

There's also a ton of Die-Hard-On-A-Plane films, aside form the obvious ones like Executive Decision, Air Force One, Passenger 57, Snakes On A Plane and the Turbulence films, there's Mach 2, two films with the name "Final Approach", Air Rage, Sonic Impact, Tail Sting(one of my personal favorites, SoaP borrowed quite a bit from that film), Air Panic, Hijack'd, Air Marshall and Crash Landing.

Ty said...

We also liked The Killing Machine (A review of it is coming up for Dolph Month in November)

Thanks for the great examples. Will have to look into Tail Sting.

Ventilation Shaft said...

Aw, damn! And I was really looking forward to this. I've really developed a liking to Adkins with the Undisputed series, and Ninja. ninja was brilliant.

Still, even though "assassination Games" may not be that good, I'll probably check it out eventually.

Ty said...

Adkins is good in it, and the movie isn't so horrible that you have to avoid it forever, just rush out to see it.

Direct to Video Connoisseur said...

I skimmed your review because my local RedBox finally got this thing, so I'm hoping to make it happen next week sometime. I'm kind of not surprised it's a dud, though we'll see what happens-- you didn't like Cyborg, and I love that one.

Ty said...

Definitely interested in your opinion on AG. We were surprised that this was a dud too!

Direct to Video Connoisseur said...

I needed to get in here and be your 30th comment. I finally got this one, and I agree that it was pretty lackluster, but I wouldn't have minded the cliches so much if they were quicker and more stylish. The beginning was great, and so was the end, the middle was just too blah. Also, while I agree that Van Damme was wooden at times, I blame the material more than him, because when he had a chance to do something, he did it. Also, you had to love him dressed like a hipster in the opening scene.

Ty said...

Totally agree! The Van Damme hipster scene was pretty funny. Also the still photo of him with the crossbow.

Adkins was underutilized.

Anonymous said...

Got to disagree with you guys. I found this one enjoyable. I even have to praise Van Damme's acting. The scene where the hooker taught him how to caress his turtle was the kind of character development I love.

--Mitch, The Video Vacuum

Ty said...

Haha, that part was silly fun, but the weakest part of the movie is that the plot and script are so tired. We were hoping for Van Damme and Adkins to transcend that and make it better.