Death Game (1997)
Article 5790 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Randy Cheveldave
Featuring Timothy Bottoms, Alfonso Quijada, Vince Murdocco
What it is: One of those reasons stunt men have no trouble finding work.
In the future, Los Angeles is split into two parts, the island of the wealthy and the remains of the old city where the poor live. A detective is sent to find a woman who went to the poor side of town. He discovers that poor people are being kidnapped to serve as entertainment for the rich by being sent through a labyrinth where they must fight to survive.
For many years, when I went to a video store, I would find science fiction classed along with fantasy and horror when it wasn’t its own genre. Eventually, though, I noticed some places reclassified science fiction so that it was classed along with action movies. For some reason, this broke my heart; science fiction has the potential to be so much more than futuristic violence. Yet I can’t say I don’t understand why this happened; when I see a movie like this (where the future largely exists to set up a scenario where everybody is beating everybody up for most of the length of the movie), I know just why it was reclassified. We have the prototypical futuristic punk, a labyrinth that looks like the basement of a large building, an aging David McCallum (who to my mind looks like an aging Robert Vaughn in this one) as the main bad guy, a killer cyborg, and lots of Roman coliseum behavior. There’s lots of fighting and very little plot. There’s really nothing I haven’t seen before. And instead of feeling satisfied at the end, I just felt sad. Nothing to recommend here.