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Robert Louis Stevenson's The Game of Death
Robert Louis Stevenson's The Game of Death
Actors: Jonathan Pryce, David Morrissey, Paul Bettany, Neil Stuke, Catherine Siggins
Director: Rachel Samuels
Genres: Action & Adventure, Drama
R     2001     1hr 31min

The first rule of suicide club is that you don't talk about suicide club. Based on a Robert Louis Stevenson story called (appropriately enough) "Suicide Club," The Game of Death is set in England in 1899, a time when takin...  more »

     
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Movie Details

Actors: Jonathan Pryce, David Morrissey, Paul Bettany, Neil Stuke, Catherine Siggins
Director: Rachel Samuels
Creators: Chris Manley, Rachel Samuels, Bernadette Kelly, John Brady, Roger Corman, Lev L. Spiro, Robert Louis Stevenson
Genres: Action & Adventure, Drama
Sub-Genres: Action & Adventure, Drama
Studio: New Concorde
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 02/20/2001
Original Release Date: 01/01/2000
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2000
Release Year: 2001
Run Time: 1hr 31min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 1
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English

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Member Movie Reviews

Kendra M. (KendraM) from NASHVILLE, TN
Reviewed on 5/19/2008...
I'm having a hard time accepting that anyone could really like this one at all.

The Game of Death is very very loosely based on Robert Louis Stevenson's short story, The Suicide Club and Other Stories (which actually has three parts-- the first being The Story of the Young Man with the Cream Tarts, on which this film is based).

If you haven't read the book, you may want to-- I liked it years ago, but it's definitely not RLS's best work. However, if you haven't seen the film, please do yourself a favor and skip it.

The premise is fascinating-- those who wish to end their lives for whatever reason may do so here. Rather than killing themselves if they are too reluctant to do so, they pay for their "murder", thereby not bringing shame upon their families (and getting a "proper" burial, too). The catch is, of course, that their 'turns' are decided by the draw of cards. And, it may be their turn to murder several times before drawing the card that permits them to get killed by another member. To me, this sounds like a twist on "Strangers on a Train (Two-Disc Special Edition)". However, it was nothing at all like that classic.

Jonathan Pryce plays the leader of this club ruling with high society iron! Once you sign the club's contract, there's no getting out of the club... alive! Obviously, for those who join this is the desired result. However, for those who change their minds and want to live well they're just out of luck (i.e., dead)!

The acting here is very good. Paul Bettany ( The Heart of Me) is just excellent. He has a small role, but was thoroughly enjoyable to watch. David Morrissey (Our Mutual Friend, Sense & Sensibility (with Miss Austen Regrets) (BBC TV 2008)) is superb as well. Acting isn't the issue here, nor the macabre subject matter. The issue is the pacing, or lack thereof.

The film just drags along; it's slow; it's boring; it's completely unbelievable. The concept of the club itself is not so outlandish so much as the budding love story that blooms between the card driven murders.

Additionally, the villain (Pryce) is completely flat and one-dimensional. In an extremely short story, this is could be excused. In a fleshed-out 2 hour movie, though, it removes so much of the dramatic tension.

Finally there is a point in the movie when someone states, "we all have our price" or "everyone has a price" or some such drivel, as if this might be the film's deep moral lesson! Silly, silly. . .

My recommendation is to save yourself the pain and frustration that I experienced and steer clear of this mess. I wish I had. I wasn't suicidal at all before the movie started but by the end of the film well, you get the picture.

Movie Reviews

Yes, to each his own, but . . .
Kendra | 04/22/2008
(2 out of 5 stars)

"I'm having a hard time accepting that anyone could really like this one at all.

The Game of Death is very very loosely based on Robert Louis Stevenson's short story, The Suicide Club and Other Stories (which actually has three parts-- the first being The Story of the Young Man with the Cream Tarts, on which this film is based).

If you haven't read the book, you may want to-- I liked it years ago, but it's definitely not RLS's best work. However, if you haven't seen the film, please do yourself a favor and skip it.

The premise is fascinating-- those who wish to end their lives for whatever reason may do so here. Rather than killing themselves if they are too reluctant to do so, they pay for their "murder", thereby not bringing shame upon their families (and getting a "proper" burial, too). The catch is, of course, that their 'turns' are decided by the draw of cards. And, it may be their turn to murder several times before drawing the card that permits them to get killed by another member. To me, this sounds like a twist on "Strangers on a Train (Two-Disc Special Edition)". However, it was nothing at all like that classic.

Jonathan Pryce plays the leader of this club ruling with high society iron! Once you sign the club's contract, there's no getting out of the club... alive! Obviously, for those who join this is the desired result. However, for those who change their minds and want to live well they're just out of luck (i.e., dead)!

The acting here is very good. Paul Bettany ( The Heart of Me) is just excellent. He has a small role, but was thoroughly enjoyable to watch. David Morrissey (Our Mutual Friend, Sense & Sensibility (with Miss Austen Regrets) (BBC TV 2008)) is superb as well. Acting isn't the issue here, nor the macabre subject matter. The issue is the pacing, or lack thereof.

The film just drags along; it's slow; it's boring; it's completely unbelievable. The concept of the club itself is not so outlandish so much as the budding love story that blooms between the card driven murders.

Additionally, the villain (Pryce) is completely flat and one-dimensional. In an extremely short story, this is could be excused. In a fleshed-out 2 hour movie, though, it removes so much of the dramatic tension.

Finally there is a point in the movie when someone states, "we all have our price" or "everyone has a price" or some such drivel, as if this might be the film's deep moral lesson! Silly, silly. . .

My recommendation is to save yourself the pain and frustration that I experienced and steer clear of this mess. I wish I had. I wasn't suicidal at all before the movie started but by the end of the film well, you get the picture.

"
Well Stuffed, but Still Thin
Charles S. Tashiro | Agoura Hills, CA USA | 06/01/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)

"I purchased "The Game of Death" more or less on a whim. It looked like an interesting, small film that might bear comparison with British television, or low-budget productions like those from Hammer Studios. With its minimal asking price, my only concern was whether or not the film was presented in a widescreen format. (It is, though letterboxed, not 16:9 enhanced.) The first pleasant surprise was seeing that "Game" was produced by Roger Corman, which is not incidental. In many ways a throwback to Corman's early '60s formula of inexpensive, visually sumptuous literary adaptations, "Game"'s chief virtues are technical and similar to Corman's Poe films. The film is gorgeously lit, the sound is crisp to the point of painful, the costume and production design just rich enough to suggest much more than they show. Corman proves again that you do not have to spend a lot of money to make a decent film. There is nonetheless a difference between "Game" and Corman's early 60s work. It is part of the charm of those films that you can sense the backlot prop shop beneath the lively surfaces. You don't care much about the rough edges, because you know the films were produced for next to nothing. Here, the uneven performances, the edgy, rushed pace, the repetitive music, in short, all the subtle symptoms of a production that didn't have quite enough time to get things perfect, are out of synch with an environment dressed to the nines. It is a perverse testament to the film's success in conveying class on the cheap that one is a touch too aware when it doesn't measure up. Jonathan Pryce, for example, is good, but has been better. David Morrissey is all too proficient as a suicidal wimp, but I suspect his irritating self-pity would have been improved if he'd had more time to discover shades of feeling in his predicament. Instead, like the rest of the cast, he hits all the obvious points. No one is particularly bad, but neither are they very engaging.Still, "The Game of Death" is reasonably entertaining. It's just that where the Poe films are imaginative, "Game" is luxuriously literal-minded."
Stevenson's The Suicide Club Brought To Life
Andrew Melomet | San Francisco, CA USA | 02/25/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The Game of Death is the latest film version of Robert Louis Stevenson's The Suicide Club. The Game of Death is well directed by Rachel Samuels and features an impressive cast: Jonathan Pryce, David Morrissey and Catherine Siggins. Beautifully photographed by Chris Manley on location in Ireland(substituting for 1899 London), it tells the story of Captain Henry Joyce(Morrissey)who joins the secret Suicide Club run by the mysterious Mr. Bourne(Pryce). The members of the club join for one purpose: to be murdered by another member of the club. Morrissey begins to regret his decision once he becomes involved with the sole female member of the club, Sara Wolverton(Siggins). This is an excellent choice for fans of Masterpiece Theater and the historical mysteries on Mystery. But be warned, this is a dark tale and features some graphic violence."