In Short: Very strong audio/video quality for this 1994 action thriller.
There is one thing about "Surviving The Game" that is certainly successful. The pace that director Ernest Dickerson is able to sustain throughout the picture is perfect - the film speeds through its 94 minutes. That's a positive aspect, since when the film stops for a moment, it becomes painfully obvious that little time was spent on this script and developing these characters. This was simply a film where pace and action was the highest priority and as that, it is slightly sucessful in staging a few action scenes.
The film stars rapper Ice T has Mason, a homeless man who is taken off the streets and hired to help out a group of hunters in the Pacific Northwest. Shortly after the team arrives at a cabin in the woods, Mason finds out that he isn't the hunter, but in fact, he's the one who's being hunted. The hunters give him a head start before giving chase. Soon enough, Mason is using his wits to trap the hunters and even the odds.
Besides the sustained tension and pace, the cinematography is certainly well-done, capturing the action well and the scenery with visual flair. It's unfortunate that every time a character speaks, it really stops the film cold. Dialogue is really at the level of basic action cliches. Performances are alright, but nothing impressive. Ice T plays Mason with intensity and does fine with action and stunts. The hunters are mixed bag, performed by Gary Busey, John C. McGinley, Rutger Hauer and Charles Dutton. Good actors in a not-so-good movie.
Wow! New Line has done a remarkable job with "Surviving The Game". Aside from a few very minor flaws, this is a consistently outstanding looking image. The picture is razor sharp throughout, providing very good detail to even all the trees as the chases go through the forests. Colors are completely natural and accurate, and although there really isn't much beyond the colors of the forest, I was still impressed by how strong they looked, with no problems whatsoever. Flesh tones are accurate throughout, as well.
Aside from a stray mark or two on the print, there really isn't anything that I found notable or to complain about. With the lack of shimmering or pixelation, this is a really smooth, "film-like" image that is very enjoyable to watch. A fullscreen version is also included, and can be selected from the menu. "Surviving The Game" is anamorphic, and the letterboxed side is 1.85:1.
SOUND: New Line has also done an excellent job in the audio department as well - there's a major explosion or two and although they aren't the strongest I've ever heard, they still have some solid kick to them. The film has quite a bit of gunfire as well, and although it doesn't really come from all sides or anything, when it does happen it's certainly loud and had me ducking a few times.
The surrounds are used well for some effects of the forest(birds, wind, etc) and occasionally for some background detail(the bikes of the hunters in the distance as they chase Mason, etc.). There were times when I wanted them to be used more to give a sense of the forest space and environment, but overall, I was pleased. Dialogue is clean and easily understood. The audio gives the score by Stewart Copeland("She's All That") presence as well.
MENUS:: Basic non-animated menus, taking from the cover art or film photos.
EXTRAS:: Although the trailer has a few marks on it, it is in 5.1 and sounds quite good; cast and crew bios are also included.
Final Thoughts The movie is basic action thrills, but I have to give a thumbs up to New Line for continuing to do solid DVD work.
The Film 70/C- = (350/500 possible points)
Video 95/A = (380/400 possible points)
Audio: 89/B+ = (356/400 possible points)
Extras: 75/C = (225/300 possible points)
Menus 70/C- = (140/200 possible points)
Value: 80/B- = (240/300 possible points)