Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Daniel Newman, Corey Johnson, Toni Barry, Mark McGann, John Benfield
Director: Gary Wicks
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Gay & Lesbian, Mystery & Suspense
A stylish British thriller about a male prostitue who becomes involved in a web of murder and deception. Stars Mark McGann, John Benfield and Daniel Newman.
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Recommended, but with serious reservations
Libretio | 04/16/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
(UK - 2001)
DVD aspect ratio: 1.33:1
Theatrical aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Theatrical soundtrack: Dolby Digital
A beautiful London rent boy (Daniel Newman) seeks the help of a sympathetic American couple (Toni Barry and Corey Johnson) when he accidentally kills the vicious gangster (Mark McGann) who's been acting as his pimp. They flee to a cottage in the Welsh countryside, pursued by a corrupt police officer (John Benfield) featured on a number of incriminating videotapes which Newman has taken with him...
Gary Wicks' feature debut ENDGAME is both ambitious and compelling, yet also deeply flawed. Though economical in terms of budget and narrative scale, the film's production values are high, and the cast is a veritable who's-who of familiar British faces. McGann's seedy villain is a study in concentrated evil, obsessed with power and violence, and completely indifferent to human suffering, while Benfield (most recognizable to US audiences from his recurring appearance in TV's "Prime Suspect") exudes quiet menace as a debauched authority figure, desperate to reclaim his soiled dignity.
Central to the film's success, however, is Daniel Newman, an elfin beauty who began his career as a child actor in TV dramas such as 15: THE LIFE AND DEATH OF PHILIP KNIGHT (1993) and "The Borrowers" (1993), supplementing his theatre and TV appearances with brief supporting roles in various UK-lensed Hollywood blockbusters (ROBIN HOOD: PRINCE OF THIEVES, BRAM STOKER'S DRACULA, etc.) until he became old enough to tackle the challenges of unconventional adult roles, such as the recalcitrant drug addict in JUNK (1999), and the troubled teenager who forms part of a bisexual love triangle in SPEAK LIKE A CHILD (1998). Here, his physical beauty is employed in a manner which renders him sympathetic and childlike, and his low-key performance anchors the entire film.
Overall, the characters and pacing may be a little muted, and some of the the lapses in logic are too significant to ignore (Barry and Johnson's reaction to Newman's crime is simply not credible), but Wicks succeeds in generating a mood of operatic tragedy, helped in no small measure by attractive location photography (by David Bennett) and a memorable music score by Adrian Thomas. The film is hideously violent in places, but most of it is suggested rather than shown, despite what you may have heard elsewhere.
But, for all its grandeur, the movie is compromised by an unnecessary plot development which seems calculated to provoke outraged disbelief: From the outset, Newman plays his character with gestures and mannerisms that clearly define him as a young gay man, and Wicks (whose resumé includes an executive producer credit on MOMENTS WITH JOHAN , a softcore ode to European porn star Johan Paulik) makes a virtue of Newman's exquisite splendor, presenting him either shirtless or naked in every other scene and directing Bennett's camera to savor (almost) every inch of Newman's glorious, sculpted body. But all of the gay sex scenes involve violence and coercion, during which Newman is brutalized and dominated by McGann and his disgusting cronies, while the only sexual tenderness he experiences is with a woman (Barry), who takes pity on his loneliness and fragility! This, despite the fact that it's Barry's husband (Johnson) who invites Newman into their lives, paving the way for an altogether more believable storyline in which Newman's character could have experienced his first moment of romance with another man. The fact that it happens with a woman is both inappropriate and offensive, and it suggests nothing more than a sop to commercial fortunes, skewing the film towards a gay audience whilst simultaneously appeasing potential straight viewers, an approach which satisfies no one and defies all narrative logic. That said, however, the plot is reasonably engaging and the performances are superb, while the fetishization of Newman's fabulous torso provides more than enough compensation for the movie's thematic shortcomings. Recommended, but with serious reservations.
TLA Releasing's all-region DVD presents the movie in full-screen format only, unmasking an amount of 'dead space' at the bottom of the frame and opening up the original 1.85:1 image gathered in the upper portion of the screen, so viewers with 16:9 TV's can simply zoom into the image and scroll to the top of the picture for an approximation of the original theatrical experience (an accompanying trailer is appropriately framed at 1.85:1). Though a letterboxed version would have been preferable, TLA's full-screen presentation offers a more revealing view of Newman's nude scenes than the theatrical print, particularly during a memorable slow-motion shower sequence which positively revels in his nakedness.
NB. An earlier VHS version contained full-frontal nudity from Newman during the aforementioned shower sequence, but the DVD has been deliberately reframed to obscure everything below the waist, very likely at the actor's request."
Idiotic in nearly every way!
Libretio | 03/26/2003
(1 out of 5 stars)
"This recent release is about a rent boy in London who lives with a mobster who terribly abuses him and sets him out on the streets to turn tricks for other mobsters? I purposely ended the above sentence with a question mark as I really have no idea of what this film is about. It is the most muddled story I've seen in months (perhaps years). The few isolated aspects of the plot that I seemed to get were so implausible that I found myself either laughing (when I shouldn't have) or yelling at the screen due to the sheer stupidity of the script.I wondered why I had never heard of this film and now I know. It is terrible in every way, from the awful and over the top performances of actors, to the pretentious moodiness of its cinematography and art design. And, the DVD has absolutely abyssmal sound, at times so bad that I had to struggle to understand what characters were saying. Viewing this film became such an overbearing chore that I ended up turning it off about three-fourths of the way through - an "Endgame" that I'm sure the makers of this turkey were not hoping for. Don't waste your money!"
Stylish & Sadistic
Libretio | 06/11/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"For those of you unaware, "endgame" is a chess term. After the opening encounters and tactics of a game, it's the final plan a player has to finish off his or her opponent. And such is the concept of "Endgame" a stylish, sexy and sadistic British crime thriller, although with a few minor flaws had me on the edge of my seat and at times my stomach in my throat! There are some brutal and graphic scenes of rape and torture, which may not suit everyone's taste. Yet it's directed with such visual flare by Gary Wicks that you cannot help but watch. There's a brutal fight and beating in a bar scene and as the music played it reminded me of a scene from a "Clockwork Orange". The scene, among many, is twisted and dark for sure, but very well done. Daniel Newman who plays Tom is convincing as a male prostitute who's on the edge and John Benfield who plays Dunston is one of the most vile villains I've seen in quite some time and it drew to mind Ben Kingsley in "Sexy Beast"! Outstanding performances!The premise of the story centers on Tom (Daniel Newman) who is a "rent boy" and turns tricks around London for his sick, psychotic "sugar daddy" George Norris (Mark McGann). Through a series of flashbacks we learn of Toms past while he tries to deal with the present and his future. And the future looks bleak. Regularly raped, and brutalized sexually by Norris he also endures the verbal abuse from Norris's driver. He's made to turn tricks, one regular being that of Dunston, as well as help George perform his dirty mob deeds. Without giving to much away things take a turn, when a twist of fate releases Tom from his violent "keeper" and with the help of some American neighbors, Max (Corey Johnson) and Nikke (Toni Barry) he flees the city to their remote cottage in the country with Dunston close behind.The story fails a bit in the relationship between Tom and the Americans and vice versa and a few scenes that seem thrown in for the sake of erotica but in general I thoroughly enjoyed the story and it was nice to see a thriller featuring a gay/bi lead role. I recommend this highly. The DVD doesn't feature any extras but the audio and video were nice and clear for an independent feature."
Why you must watch this
Daniel J. Yurcovic | Baltimore, MD | 02/17/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is an excellent movie, but as others have warned... don't look for the "cookie cutter" ending. In an earlier review someone complain that the relationship between the prostitute and his new American friends was not realistic; I disagree; the writer shows the American couple were having major questions about their life, their marriage and where they were... the crisis of the prostitute gave them an out without having to do it on their own. The reviewer also wrote it was more conceivable for the American man to have a thing for the prostitute; how cliché would that have been.This movie had me on the edge of my seat and when it was over I was angry and wanted more; but I won't get into those details.If you don't appreciate a dramatic thriller; go elsewhere."