January 27, 2015 Game of Assassins (Movie Review)
Imagine waking to find yourself upon a mound of incinerated bodies with no recollection of how or why you are there. Thereafter, you are forced to revisit sins of the past. Written by Adam Lawson and directed by Matt Eskandari, the Action/Horror/Adventure Game of Assassins, AKA The Gauntlet, made its debut at the LA Indie Film Festival and Screamfest Horror Film Festival in 2013, as well as winning the Jury Award for Best Feature Film at the Chicago Horror Film Festival and winner of Best Feature Film at Shocktoberfest, among other awards. Two-Thousand and Fourteen saw a DVD release via Lionsgate Home Entertainment in the USA as well as internationally. Starring Warren Kole (Mother’s Day 2010, The Avengers 2012), Jaime Ray Newman (Catch Me IF You Can 2002, Made Of Honor 2008), Bai Ling (The Crow 1994, Magic Man 2010), Nick Lane (House M.D. TV series 2007, Gilmore Girls TV series 2006), Jude Ciccolella (The Shawshank Redemption 1992, Sin City: A Dame To Kill For 2014), and Dustin Tri Nguyen (Three Ninjas Kick Back 1994, 22 Jump Street 2014), the story tells of five strangers that must band together to make it through levels of puzzles to get out of a mysterious underground castle. Each person has their own previous lives and secrets, and they will haunt them in this maze of challenges.
The game begins with former cop David (Kole) waking to find himself atop the aforementioned mound of incinerated bodies. A flashback provides backstory of David being surrendered to the care of Sister Mary (Pati Lauren: Wild Things 1998). Back to present time, alone, confused, and on guard, David begins to search around the room. He soon is attacked by store owner Jin (Nguyen) and a struggle ensues. After realizing neither knows why they have been put here they team up to find a way out. All too soon they meet Emma, a club employee, and Tyler, a high school student, who too are untrusting and resist. After being given the choice to work together or stay alone, with no food or water, they agree to follow Jin and David. After one gruesome test, they come across yoga instructor Kim (Ling) who gives them many reasons to think she may be the ultimate threat. The game has other beliefs and urge them to include her in their journey. Each corner and turn leads to each person’s story unfolding, and a new puzzle to solve, following a religious based story that William (Ciccolella), David’s father, told him as a child. Choices must be made and there are consequences to suffer.
Upon reaching the last door, the group become close and almost trusting in each other. Yet , who can one trust when given the chance to become something new and have their lives changed forever, which each wants more than anything.
With a catchy, well-built story, as well as likeable characters, all answers are worked in for every question the viewer may have. Intricate surroundings provide a history of the castle and will keep one’s posterior creeping to the front of the chair to see what is around the next bend. With a predictable, yet surprise, ending, this journey leaves an opportunity for a sequel. Do not underestimate to ability to be sucked into the film as Eskandari and Lawson have created a world of emotions and well-developed storylines to provide the attention grabber that is Game of Assassins. CrypticRock give Game of Assassins 3.5 out of 5 stars.