Imagine this: you’re homeless, broke, and alone. No family, and no one in your life. You’re ready to end it all, but a stranger offers you a lucrative job – the answer to a better life. The answer to all your problems. The only problem is, you don’t know what the job is… Unaware of the agreement you just signed up for, do you take the job with no questions asked?
That’s exactly what happens to our main character, Mason (played by hip-hop artist Ice-T) in Surviving the Game. After just witnessing both his best friends die just days apart of one another, Mason feels severely conflicted with life and decides it’s not worth it anymore. A homeless dog and an old man named Hank (played by Jeff Corey) were the only reasons Mason had to continue on, but with them gone (not to mention with his wife and kid also deceased), life had no meaning to him.
Right before a large truck almost hits him, a stranger pushes him out-of-the-way. This stranger (played by Charles S. Dutton) tries to reach out to him. Tries to understand him but gives up eventually – but not before offering him a job that pays well. According to this man, Cole, it’s a job fit for a wilderness expert. Mason’s then given a business card to contact his partner, Mr. Burns (Rutger Hauer).
The address leads him to a lavish building where he’s forced to prove himself. Mason was not a man to take “no” for an answer. So, prove himself, he did. Successfully convincing Burns to hire him. Mason states, “Never underestimate a man when he’s got nothing to lose.” Agreed.
Next day, Mason and Burns meet up and set out to their destination, the beautiful Pacific Northwest!! Packed and ready to go, they take a private plane to a cabin in the middle of nowhere. Soon after landing, another plane arrives with five more men. Keep in mind here, that all these men (excluding Mason, of course) are rich men who are all familiar with one another. Felt like a private club of wealthy yacht owners meeting up for their weekly appointment initiating the newcomer, kinda.
The one individual who strikes out the most to me is Gary Bussey who plays Hawkins, a maniacal madman. That night as they all feasted on a pig they had just recently prepared whole, they all exchanged personal stories about their life. Hawkins told an entrancing story about how he received his “birthmark” (as he called it) on his face. It involved his bulldog, Prince, where it became a matter of “kill or be killed”. His dog may have paid the price, but he gained his manhood that very day – only a scar remains as the evidence.
Mason claims he killed his wife and kid, upsetting Griffin, played by John C. McGinley (you’d probably recognize him from the TV series “Scrubs”). According to the group, Griffin had recently just lost his daughter. From this moment on, there was a certain distaste towards Mason.
Later that night, Mason was shown to his room, and told that tomorrow morning he would receive all the details of the job. How ominous. Well next morning Mason awakens to find a gun pointed at his face while surrounded by these men. Not only are these men armed and dangerous, they are dressed for hunting season. It’s safe to say that luck has run out for Mason.
The men all viciously seize him, ushering him out the door with nothing but the clothes on his back. Told him they’re the hunters, and he’s the hunted. Mason cursed at them relentlessly trying to gain some answers, but to no avail. The men decided to give him a head start, while they leisurely enjoyed their breakfast. When it came time, the hunt would begin.
With that said, Mason took off for dear-life, running as far as he could. Unfortunately, “smoker-lungs” puts him at a disadvantage already. But fret not, there’s more to him than what meets the eye when concerning Mason. What started out looking as “easy prey” quickly turned into a “major threat”.
I don’t wanna give away what happens next, but I’ll tell you that it became an epic game of cat-and-mouse from here on out. As the wealthy hunters’ numbers began to dwindle, so did their patience. Only one of the hunters, Wolfe Jr. (played by William McNamara) was against hunting down a human being. But the others only saw Mason as a pitiful homeless man, fit to be put out of his misery by them. Wolfe Sr. (F. Murray Abraham) was set on making his son a man through this experience, but Jr. was set on changing things whence he returned to civilization for he found he was nothing like his father.
As epic as this game of cat versus mouse was though, it doesn’t compare to the hunt in Predator – the ultimate hunter. Of course, Predator is a whole different ball-game, so let’s not go there… Back to Mason, who disarms a gun and throws it aside, walks away, and blindly assumes his enemy would be content with having his life spared. No, the poor fool doesn’t know when to quit. He grabs the gun, pointing it right at Mason’s back. Wise words to remember: “when you find a gun, always check the barrel.” The enemy didn’t and he learnt the hard way.
I’m not quite sure what the moral of the story is, but greed is definitely the culprit at hand here. A man will do anything to ensure his survival when push comes to shove. Make sure to always read all the small print and fine details before signing an agreement! Or it just may be the last thing you ever do…
Overall, I would give this movie 3 out of 5 star. It was decent for a film from 1994. I found Gary Bussey to be absolutely captivating – what an amazing actor! I also found Ice-T’s hair to be suiting for the role, but it’s rather odd-looking in general. Other than that, I enjoyed it. Anything with Seattle in it, will always have a special place in my heart.