Themis-Athena | from somewhere between California and Germany | 01/20/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A children's chess tournament. Two boys facing each other in the final game, intently staring at each other and the chess board between them. They make their moves and register their time. Ultimately, one of them has to concede defeat. Facing "check" twice and almost out of time, he topples his king. And assaults his adversary. A doctor recommends that he not ever be allowed near a chess board while he is treated for his "condition."
Years later, another chess tournament. Grand master Peter Sanderson (Christopher Lambert) is in attendance, making a surprise return after three years' retirement. He easily wins the first rounds. After dinner with daughter Erica (whose only parent he is) and a strategy session with his advisor, Sanderson concludes the evening with a few steamy hours with a sensuous blonde ... and the psychopath who will soon hold the community in thrall has found his first target. When the woman is found murdered, gruesomely dressed up in death and the word "Remember" written on the wall above her in blood, Sanderson initially denies having been with her. This, and his arrogant demeanor towards the policemen investigating the crime - particularly, Detective Andy Wagner (Daniel Baldwin) - makes him an instant suspect. But is Sanderson the psychopath? Or is he, as appearances would have it, the psychopath's true target?
In a grisly game of strategy in which a city is turned into a chess board and women living in the target areas of town (attractive blondes all of them) are the chess pieces, Sanderson and the police hunt a serial killer who always seems to be one step ahead of them. While Detective Wagner never loses his suspicion of Sanderson, his newly minted boss, Captain Frank Sedman (Tom Skerritt) reluctantly comes to the conclusion that since the clues provided by the killer are based on chess references and directed to none other than Sanderson himself, they will not be able to solve the case without his help. Yet, for a long time the grand master, too, seems unable to decipher the killer's clues, and the meaning of the words written above the dead body of each of his victims. - How many women will have to die before his identity is revealed? Will he ever be caught? Will psychologist Kathy Sheppard (Diane Lane), brought in by the police to determine if Sanderson himself fits their suspect's profile, end up as one of his victims?
"Knight Moves" is a suspenseful thriller, intelligently built on the patterns of the royal game of strategy itself, and in which the audience is kept on their toes until the very end. Christopher Lambert in particular is believable as the astute, arrogant Sanderson, who hides his personal fears and insecurities under a mask of unapproachability which only one person seems to be able to pierce - his daughter Erica. His face-offs with Daniel Baldwin alias Detective Wagner, sarcastic and spewing barely controlled rage at each other, are among the highlights of the movie; in addition, of course, to the mind game itself which the killer plays with his hunters and, by extension, with the audience. While it is clear that the solution has to have something to do with the fateful game played by those two boys so long ago, all elements of the story are only connected up in the final scenes ... which are, however, unfortunately somewhat overplayed and emphasize gore more than psychology and hence, are a bit of a let-down. This, and the relationship soon forming between Sanderson and Sheppard, which doesn't entirely work for me (strangely enough, since Lambert and Lane were married at the time) are the only detractors I find in this movie. Overall, however, "Knight Moves" would have deserved much more attention than it has received since its 1992 cinematic release.
Also recommended: Seven (New Line Platinum Series) The Silence of the Lambs (Two-Disc Collector's Edition) Red Dragon (Widescreen Collector's Edition) Highlander"
Love the movie. Hate the DVD.
Themis-Athena | 04/20/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This movie has ranked among my favorites since the first time I saw it. It's a great suspense thriller that keeps you guessing until the very end. I was eager to add it to my DVD collection, so I ordered it as soon as it came out.Imagine my disappointment in seeing this DVD. The transfer is horrible. This disc was released in the first quarter of 2001 -- over a year after Anamorphic Widescreen became the accepted standard for DVD -- and not only is this transfer not anamorphic, but it is worse quality than the VHS I have seen. There are a number of glitches in the transfer, including some that look as though the transfer was done from a damaged source negative -- maybe even from the VHS itself.On top of that, the disc has NO special features. Even the VHS version had a making-of documentary after the credits rolled! It's hard to believe that transfers with quality this poor are still being released today. If the studio doesn't care enough to do it right, then why do it at all?In summary, I highly recommend this movie."
An excellent mystery thriller
Richard Staats | McLean, VA USA | 02/28/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This review contains some spoilers.
While this is a good film, it is not for the kiddies. There are disturbing images, adult situations, and some bloody scenes.
The film was well done from the opening shots of the boy stabbing another boy to the someday serial killer watching while his mother dies. The director writer team did an excellent job of drawing the audience into the movie and dropping enough hints that you could figure out "who-done-it," but you probably won't. In my circle of the fifteen folks who have watched the film with us only one of them figured out who the killer was in the first 2/3 of the movie.
Your opinion of who the killer might be shifts throughout the movie. None of the characters are paragons of virtue in the film. As an audience member, there is enough circumstantial evidence and potential motives for you to implicate most of the principals in the film.
The music and sound effects are well integrated into the film and help to build and dispel suspense. Actually some of the sounds are critical for solving the mystery.
The acting by the ensemble cast was exceptional. Even the bit roles were done by credible character actors. The characters were well written and believable, and the cast did a good job of bringing them to life.
As an interesting trivia point, Christopher Lambert was married to Diane Lane, his romantic interest, when the movie was being filmed."
Michael Butts | Martinsburg, WV USA | 04/05/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"One has to give writer Brad Mirman and director Carl Schenkel credit for coming up with the unique premise of a serial killer's victims tied into a game of chess with a chess master. KNIGHT MOVES opens with a 1972 chess tournament between two little boys; when one of them loses, he throws a fit, and stabs his opponent in the hand with his pen. Psychologists recommend the lad needs therapy (duh?), and recommends that he not be allowed anywhere near a chess board. When on one rainy night, the boy's father runs off and abandons him and his mother, the mother kills herself, and from there we know that many years later, this little boy is going to be our serial killer. Where the script succeeds is in making us try to figure out which of the male actors is the grown up little monster. It throws us some neat red herrings, including a real whopper near the end. Where the movie doesn't fare so well is in the over acting of both Christopher Lambert and Diane Lane (Mrs. Lambert at the time). Lambert's performance isn't surprising, since his movies have succeeded most of the time in spite of him, but Ms. Lane's performance is disappointing, considering the fine work she has done since (Unfaithful, Perfect Storm). Tom Skerritt does well, but even Daniel Baldwin didn't know when to pull in the reins in his hammy performance. Katherine Isabelle (who would grow up to be Ginger in Ginger Snaps movies) plays Lambert's little daughter. Charles Bailey-Grant has a nice turn as the computer sidekick, and veteran British actor Ferdy Mayne shows up as the blind friend of Lamberts. The plot does have some neat twists, but sometimes it's playing with the audience gets a little frustrating, but ultimately KNIGHT MOVES has a good resolution."
A reflection of life
F. Zhang | Canada | 05/12/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I'm giving this movie a high rating, not because it's a great movie, but because it has sentimental value to me. My father rented this soon after it came out back in '93, and I was about 9 or 10 years old at that time. It's sentimental to me because this is the movie that inspired me to learn chess, and I'm more in love with the game today than ever before.
I haven't seen this movie since, until I recently purchased it from Amazon Marketplace.
A few notes:
1. Unless the product I purchased is bootleg, and I've been assured it's not, the quality is not exactly what you expect from a DVD that's supposedly digitally re-mastered. The jacket's back cover looks like it was produced by a Xerox machine; the quality of the picture is very grainy at times, even for a movie made 15 years ago; NO SUBTITLES (very disappointing); oh, and the ending is horrible - way too sudden.
2. Just in case anyone's interested, in the movie, Chris Lambert's character mentioned a chess master by the name of Anton Berger who supposedly wrote one of the most famous books on chess, titled "Principles & Tactics." In the first chapter, Berger lists the 3 cardinal rules of playing chess: 1. carefully; 2. carefully; 3. carefully. I Yahooed, Googled and Wikipediaed: there's no such master and no such book."