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James Cullen Bressack
Chad Michael Murray, Bruce Willis, Swen Temmel
Writing Credits:
Ross Peacock

A man's life on his farm is interrupted when a cop and a pair of dangerous criminals show up.

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Brazilian Portuguese
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 97 min.
Price: $21.99
Release Date: 10/12/2021

• Trailer


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Survive the Game [Blu-Ray] (2021)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 16, 2022)

Despite a global pandemic, apparently nothing will halt Bruce Willis’s quest to act in more direct-to-video features than anyone else on the planet. His latest salvo in this battle: 2021’s Survive the Game.

Police Detective David Watson (Willis) pursues a drug bust. However, this gets violent and leaves him injured.

David’s partner Cal (Swen Temmel) chases assailants Frank (Michael Sirow) and Violet (Kate Katzman) to a farm owned by Eric (Chad Michael Murray), a man haunted by a tragic car accident that killed his wife and young daughter. There Cal and Eric plan to defend themselves against the baddies, a task that becomes more complex when the gangsters bring in reinforcements.

Though Willis gets second billing for Game and a prominent spot on the Blu-ray’s cover, one should not expect to see much of him in the movie. As mentioned at the start, Willis loves him some direct-to-video thrillers, and he especially loves those that demand as few working days as possible.

Into this category falls Game, a film that barely features the actor. I suspect Willis devoted one day to this flick – and maybe not even one full day, as his role spends so little time on screen that he might’ve only gone in front of the camera over his lunch break on another film.

It doesn’t help that Game will offer a serious case of déjà vu for aficionados of Willis’s direct-to-video oeuvre. In 2020, Willis and Murray starred in a movie about another injured party and another siege, one titled – wait for it - Survive the Night.

The same actors appear in a movie with a similar scenario and an almost identical title – seriously? Didn’t anyone involved with Game think that maybe – just maybe – they should give it a different title to at least differentiate it somewhat from Night?

I guess that asks too much from the cast and crew behind Game, as all involved seem to want to crank out cheap “movie product” with as little fuss and muss as possible. Not a scintilla of creativity or actual cinematic inspiration appears in this trite piece of fluff.

Game alternates between meat and potatoes “siege thriller” and whacked-out True Romance-style campy violent romp. It fails to satisfy in either regard, as it becomes a mess of annoying characters and cliché action flick shenanigans

Can I find anything positive to say about Game? At a little under 97 minutes, it didn’t waste too much of my time.

Thus ends the “faint praise” aspect of the review. Nothing good comes of this dull, uninspired action tale.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus D-

Survive the Game appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The transfer appeared to replicate the source material.

The majority of the movie appeared pretty concise and accurate. Some minor softness impacted the occasional wider shot, but most of the flick seemed accurate and well-defined.

No issues with shimmering or moiré effects appeared, and I saw no edge haloes. Print flaws failed to materialize.

In terms of palette, the film opted for a heavy teal palette that favored the green side of that equation, though some amber popped up as well. It appeared that the disc presented these dominant tones as intended.

Blacks were dark and dense, and shadows showed good clarity. This was a largely satisfying presentation.

In addition, the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack proved more than adequate, though not stellar. Despite the emphasis on a violent siege, the mix didn’t pack a whole lot of lively material.

Game came with the occasional action scene, mostly on the road or when guns got involved. These offered good punch, and the rest of the mix brought out a nice sense of atmosphere.

Not a lot of created a dynamic soundscape, though. Music fleshed out the surroundings and turned this into an appropriate mix but not one that stood out as impressive.

Audio quality worked fine, with dialogue that appeared natural and concise. Music felt bright and brassy as well.

Effects seemed accurate and lively, with good clarity and punch. This became a perfectly acceptable mix for what the story wanted to do.

The disc includes the movie’s trailer but it lacks any other extras.

Even by the low standards of cheap direct to video action fare, Survive the Game falls short of expectations. Stale, trite and utterly uninspired, nothing positive comes from this clunker. The Blu-ray brings pretty good picture and audio but it lacks bonus materials. Avoid this terrible attempt at an action thriller.

Viewer Film Ratings: 1 Stars Number of Votes: 2
0 3:
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