Friday, 5 December 2008

Stunts (aka The Deadly Game)



STUNTS (aka THE DEADLY GAME) (1977)

Directed by: Mark L. Lester
Screenplay: Dennis Johnson
Starring: Robert Forster, Fiona Lewis & Ray Sharkey

Neat little flick about some weirdo who is killing the stuntmen on a currently lensing action film. It’s up to stunt coordinator Robert Forster to find out who is offing his men, though he still seems to find time to bed a nosy reporter (Lewis) and do pretty much all the stunts himself. This very early offering from future Commando director Lester, is harmless, ridiculous fun buoyed by some cool old school stunts. The pace is a little too slow to really whip up any excitement and the ‘acting’ between all the stunts is often painfully embarrassing. A very young Robert Forster does not look comfortable in his gruff, tough and very sexist role as a stunt coordinator and there are also early appearances from Joanna Cassidy (Blade Runner) and B-movie stalwart Richard Lynch (loads of B-movies).

Pretty much a glorified TV-movie, complete with groovy seventies fashion and cheesy theme song, Stunts offers a few wry digs at Hollywood and the way action pictures were churned out, all the while trying to provide enough stunts to keep the viewer's attention. The stunt work is very dated by today’s standards but it comes from a time when they would pretty much perform the stunts on the fly with very lo-tech equipment. So Lester spices up proceedings with loads of car flips, high-falls and even a pretty dangerous looking fire gag.

It’s all quite tame and silly but it’s a rare flick and interesting to see where the director of action classic benchmark, Commando got his start. And Robert Forster and cars flipping always provides a morsel of entertainment.

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