Thursday, 19 April 2012

Steve Reviews – Assassination Games

Steve's had a look at a scientifically random film, here's his unique take on it.

And so I watched a movie just now, here’s what I made of the thing.

What Movie did You Watch?

Good opening question there, well done. I watched Assassination Games.

Ooohhh, Who’s In That?

Jean Claude Van Damme is in it.

What “The” Jean Claude Van Damme From The Beer Adverts?

Yes, that Jean Claude Van Damme.

I Didn’t Know He Was An Actor, I Thought He Just Made Those Coors Light Beer Commercials?

Yes he does that too, but if you don’t like to subscribe to anything involving Richard Desmond and you’ve therefore decided that you’d rather piss into the wind than watch anything that he’s involved with and therefore you have no truck with Channel 5 then you wouldn’t know that Jean Claude Van Damme is an actor and has been in many many movies, some mean spirited people might say toomany.

Why Would They Say That?

Because on the whole the movies that he’s in are a bit shit.

So Why Did You Watch ThisJean Claude Van Damme Movie Then?

Because I was playing LoveFilm Roulette, a game I invented for when I’m bored,essentially the game is turn on the LoveFilm streaming channel and pick a movie blindfolded. This led me to Assassin Games, ergo this led me to Jean ClaudeVan Damme, although I didn’t know anything about the movie or who was in it when I started watching. This is how LoveFilm Roulette works.

So What Did You Find Out? What’s It All About Then?

Well it’s a movie in which Jean Claude Van Damme tries to get to the heart of the human condition by moving in between the space in between space, but also by approaching it from the other side. Sort of like he’s slaloming the wrong way up a helter skelter while fat kids hurtle at him like they’re barrels being thrown by a giant ape. Also instead of looking at the world in shades of black, white or grey he tries to see it through Sepia coloured spectacles while juggling the fate of the universe, writing an ode to a lost love and befriending an octopus who has the power to communicate via the medium of shadow puppetry, which is 400% more shadow puppetry than a Human can produce. It’s complicated.


No, he kills people and they die. It’s not subtle but there are complications.

Oh, Cause I Was Going To Say, What You Described Up There Sounded A Bit Crackers & Heavy. I Wasn’t Sure I Was Up For That Level of “Artistry” and “Life Questioning”? I Don’t Know If Anything Is Helped By Being Sepia.

No, I agree sepia is just a poncy way of making a movie look deep and meaningful in the absence of a comprehensible script that’s deep and meaningful like the one in Home Alone II or Mannequin.

So This Film Isn’t SepiaThen?

No, but it is filmed in a weird sort of slightly off white, this makes every scene look like it’s mid afternoon in late September when it’s been a warm daybut it’s gone a bit overcast and it might rain but the sun is still battling against the on-coming clouds. I’m calling it Romanian White lighting.

Oh why Romanian White? Is That A New Shade On The B&Q Range?

No, the movie is set in Bucharest, that’s in Romania.

Is It? Why?

Yes it is, I don’t know why. But I’m not complaining. Bucharest has a cinematic quality, it looks interesting and the Romanian White lighting does a good job of helping it look picturesque.

Oh Good, So Who Else Is In It?

Erm, did I say it has Jean Claude Van Damme?

Yes you did. Is That It? Does He Just Wander About A Wood Looking Moody & Killing Trees?

No, there are other people in it, like I said. They get killed and die, I just forgot to remember their names and there was no one I’d seen in anything before so it didn’t seem to really matter.

Oh, So They Aren’t VeryGood Actors Then?

Well that depends, just because they aren’t well known doesn’t mean that they stink the place up and act a lot like slow moving hat stands who are only just now learning to speak. Ben Affleck is a dreadful actor and yet he’s very famous and he’s been in loads of movies, and J-Lo.

So Does That Mean That These Unknown Actors Are Good At Acting Then?

Not especially no. But to be fair they haven’t made Shakespeare here or tried to go all Hitchcockian plotaramatastic, no one needs to extend themselves beyond the reaches of swearing, looking angry, punching something, shooting guns, dying or standing in the background looking angry/shooting guns/dying.

Do They At Least Do That Well?

Well they all looked quite dead by the end. They all shot guns in the way that extras are supposed to in films, in that they fire 3,000 bullets at a thing, usually the hero of the action movie or the vehicle he’s in, and hit absolutely nothing vital. They all do that perfectly well.

So Lots of Stuff Gets Shot Then?

Stuff, people, buildings, yeah stuff gets got.

What About Kicked/Punched/Killed?

Yeah, plenty of folk get kicked, punched or killed. Although I’d say the total body count was below average for a modern action film. At a rough estimate I’d put the total death count at between 20 and 30, which as I say feels a bit low.

It Does Sounds Like A Skinny Body Count, What Gives?

I don’t know, it’s a fairly low-budget movie by the look of it. I’m sensing that was why it was set in Bucharest and the only “name” in it is Jean Claude, who probably cost half the film's budget on his own. I’m guessing the low body count has more to do with not being able to buy extras to shoot, garrotte, strangle or behead.

So It Looks Cheap?

Actually no it doesn’t especially. It clearly hasn’t had much cash spent on it, but the people who did spend the money made it go a fairly long way. Bucharest was a nice touch and that probably saved them a small fortune. Smart thinking.

Hold On, You Said Garrotted Back There Didn’t You?

Yes I did.

So Does That Mean Someone Gets Garrotted Then?

Yep, well maybe cheese-wired is a better word, but lots of blood definitely pisses out of a gaping hole in the their neck and their head just about falls off and they die. And that's in the first five minutes as well. It’s essentially in the set up scene to confirm what the fuck is going on without kicking straight into the story. You know? Like the bit at the start of your common or garden Bond movie before he turns up in the sight and the shoots you? The Opening Gander as it's technically known in Hollywood. It’s a fairly decent opening salvo actually, good action, good deaths, a bit sophisticated considering the movie and the fact that it’s JCVD and he's older than Moses, and about as good at acting as Moses as well, it’s a nice touch, inventive.

So Does That Mean That The Rest Of The Movie Goes The Same Way Then?

Sadly not, or at least not quite. After this we get to the story proper andthere’s about 10 to 15 minutes goes by as we get into how all of this is goingto turn into an hour and a half of action movie. It gets a bit complicated at this point, and quite needlessly so. It’s an action movie in the same way that Terminator is, in that the plot shouldn’t be overtaxing and things should get blown up or shot and then die. It doesn’t need to overcomplicate things, it’s not The Usual Suspects.

So Is Jean Claude Any Good In It Being’s As He’s The Only One I’m Likely To Recognise?

He isn’t bad actually, he’s looking a bit old and craggy these days and his karate chopping ways are a bit behind him, sort of like Jackie Chan. This limits how much kicking and rolling around he can actually do so with those limitations and lets face it most people don’t watch a Jean Claude Van Damme movie thinking that they’re going to be seeing a new Marlon Brando or Laurence Olivier, they think he’s going to kick and punch people until they’re dead and because that's J.C's remit and because he sticks mostly to that then he does alright.

So Is He A Good Assassin?

Well he kills people, but we get to see inside his super-secret Bucharest apartment which you only get to through a smaller, more basic apartment which has a series of trick-door keys, you know the thing, moving a book to the right or winding a clock face on. But once inside his little world we find that he may well be an amoral killing machine but he’s something of a cultured and sophisticated amoral killing machine. He plays classical music, and chess and has moody black and white “art” photos and a turtle for a pet. So we see the inner workings of a hired killer, and we see that this means that later in the film this murderous loner will inevitably fall for someone, i.e. a woman or a cheeky but irrepressible small child, with the inevitable softening of his stony fa├žade and the further inevitability of issues as he lets his emotional guard down.

Oh, Do Tell?

Can’t, spoiler alert.

Oh Yeah. So Is This Film Any Good Then?

I’ve seen worse, it certainly isn’t a bad film. It’s a bit too needlessly complicated, there could be a bit more kicky-punchy-death action in it and less mumbling about “vengeance” which was apparently the scriptwriter’s word of the day when he wrote this film. Every fucker in it has some sort of grudge and because the whole thing has an almost constant stream of all sorts of folk chasing after all sorts of other folk in a slightly pointless way it becomes a bit annoying and at times it feels like a live action version of the Whacky Races. Also, having to remember who’s grudge is currently getting sorted out and who is on who’s side gets a bit tedious, especially when you don't much care because there isn't really a likable character amongst them all. But as I said, it's not bad, it could have just done with having a word with itself about the amount of people chasing each other all over the film when it didn’t really need to but all in all it has good but not exactly edge of your seat thrilling action, inventive deaths, decent, well choreographed action sequences, energetic but not staggering fight scenes. It’s sadly lacking in a decent car chase but there are gratuitous boobs for no reason, although it is quite a brief glimpse so it’s not overly smutty even if the gratuitous boobs are clearly only there just to be boobs, I know some of you perverts like that sort of thing. It’s relatively short as it comes in at just over an hour and a half and they didn’t really leave room for a sequel so there’s no chance of them remaking an average movie again and calling it Assassin Games II, well unless they write a whole new movie that is.

So Are We Done?

Pretty much, I’ve covered the basics and there isn’t really much else to say.

Maybe Try One of Ashley’s 8-Word Reviews Seeing As He Seems To Have Stopped Doing Them?

Oh ok, I’ll have a go. “Garrotte – punch – kick – shoot – die – repeat – it’s all right”. Happy?

No, that’s nine words.

Oh fuck off!

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