Kurt Angle - Brad Mayfield
Jenna Morasca - Carol Peterlake
Eric Wright - Detective Burke
Natalie Bail - Beatrice
Sam Nicotero - Mackie
Larry Kozlowski - Bergman
Genre - Thriller/Serial Killers
Running Time - 92 Minutes
I remember watching the 1996 Olympic Games and seeing the Men's United States wrestling team defeat all other countries, being proud of my country. The main attraction was obviously an amateur wrestler named Kurt Angle, who won the Gold Medal by decision against Iran. Eventually, Angle would later gain mainstream popularity when he started wrestling professionally for World Wrestling Federation [now Entertainment], becoming one of the company's premier sport-entertainers. The guy could do it all - wrestle his ass off, talk on the microphone, and entertain the fans as both a face [good guy] and a heel [bad guy] with his charisma. He could be funny and dorky one minute and a true bad ass the next convincingly. The man was a star. Eventually drug addiction would take its toll on Angle - the man has had several bad neck injuries - which would lead him to leave WWE and head straight to TNA [now Impact] Wrestling as one of the company's main attractions to this day.
Like most wrestlers these days, Angle felt that he could contribute to the world of cinema as well. However, Angle decided to follow in the footsteps of John Cena, Kane, and Triple H rather than Roddy Piper, The Rock, and even Hulk Hogan. What I'm trying to say is that Kurt Angle's first starring vehicle, 2009's END GAME, is pretty much the equivalent of a wrestling jobber - a loser that's down for the three count and ready to be wished well on its future endeavors. If Kurt Angle expected to get a Gold Medal in acting, he was mistaken. END GAME wouldn't even qualify for the trials. Guess the WTF? Vault is back in biz-ness!!
Alex Miner, using the alias Brad Mayfield (Kurt Angle), is known as the Stranglehold Killer, creating quite the reputation in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Mayfield seems to enjoy giving random women the sexual equivalent of a German Suplex - strangling them while doing them doggystyle and creating the ugliest and most disturbing "O" face on film. That face would have murdered me on its own, with the choking being overkill. Anyway, Mayfield's latest victim was a wannabe ballet dancer named Beatrice (Natalie Bail), which makes lead detective, Burke (Eric Wright), to feel he's getting closer to capturing him.
The case seems to create friction between Burke and his wife, especially when Burke takes a liking to Beatrice's stripper roommate, Carol (Jenna Morasca). The problem is that Mayfield is also interested in Carol to make her another one of his victims. This creates a game between both Mayfield and Burke to see who can top the other as the body count rises. Will Burke finally have his END GAME with Mayfield? Will Mayfield Angle Slam his way out of this pursuit? Will you want to break your freakin' neck while watching this piece of crap? It's true. It's DAMN true!
I have three words for END GAME:
WHAT THE FUCK!?
Seriously, END GAME has got to be the worst film I've watched in a very long time, especially for this blog. It's meant to be a crime thriller, but it's not thrilling in any way and the only crime it's committing is wasting people's times for even existing. I had a feeling a film involving a wrestler would bring back the WTF? Worst Films Extravaganza. But one starring the great Kurt Angle? Say it ain't so, Kurt! Say it ain't so!
I don't even know where to start with this piece of shit film since everything about it sucks. I guess I'll start with what's probably the worst part of the film: the screenplay. The first problem with the script is that Jim McCartney is an amateur screenwriter, especially since END GAME is his first screenplay. McCartney knows enough about what needs to be a serial killer/thriller movie. We have the usual suspects: serial killer once killed animals when he was a child, serial killer has a modus operandi when it comes to his murders, serial killer taunts hero over the phone to create tension and conflict, serial killer focuses on hero to ruin his life by hurting those around him, etc. But while McCartney knows what needs to be in a film like this, he has no idea how to structure it in a way that people will want to watch or even enjoy it.
The reason why the structure of the film fails is because of the characters, or should I say stereotypes, because they don't behave like real people. This is probably my main beef with END GAME because I couldn't believe any of these characters at all. In fact, I don't think I've seen any film, even most slasher films, where the characters are written to be dumb as fuck. Brad Mayfield isn't a genius, but the fact that he got away with a ton of shit for as long as he did proves that he's the least stupid of the cast. Still, even his "serial killer act" has so many loopholes that I'm surprised he's a big deal at all. For one, he uses disguises to get around his victims and authorities. While this is supposed to be seen as cunning and clever, it's really a joke when the latex masks he uses don't change his appearance much at all! Being bald, he'll use hair in one scene to trick people. Being in great shape, he'll pad his body to make him look heavier in another scene. He also dresses up as a clown at the end, which made Pennywise say, "Bitch please!" after he got a good look. Plus he changes his voice to a gruff one that sounds like he's been deep-throating every prisoner in Cell Block A, B, and probably C in the span of 6 hours. It's so ridiculous and people don't even know it's him! It's like the whole Clark Kent/Superman deal with the glasses! So fuckin' stupid! He doesn't even look normal because the mask is horribly put on his face. How can these characters be so dumb?
Also, Mayfield seems to work for some major company and murders one of his female co-workers. Now for a "smart" killer, wouldn't killing someone you work with after another co-worker knows you were the last one with her give you away? And Mayfield murdered her not because he was playing a game with Detective Burke. He killed her because he wanted to live in her house for a while to hide out from the cops looking for him!
THAT'S THE FIRST PLACE THEY'LL LOOK FOR YOU, YOU FUCKIN' DUMBASS!!
The other characters are even worse. Detective Burke is probably the worst cop in history of cinema. Frank Drebin is fuckin' Harry Callahan next to this moron. I mean, Mayfield actually calls his house on the home phone. What does Burke do? Does he tap the phone to trace the call? Does he change his number? Oh no, Burke just talks to him like they're old pals. Hell, even Burke's wife enjoys her conversations with this "mastermind" serial killer, feeling he's more interesting and smarter than her cop husband. And no, I'm not making that shit up. She actually tells Burke that to his face and he doesn't even react to it. In fact, nobody in this film reacts to anything believably. But I'll get to that later.
Also for the "hero" of the film, Burke is a douchebag that no one will ever root for. Not only is he stupid, but he commits adultery without a second thought with Carol. For one, we have no idea why Carol has even a slight interest in Burke since it just magically happens! She knows he's married with a bored wife and SPECIAL NEEDS DAUGHTER. That's right - this cop has an autistic 7-year-old and instead of taking care of her, he's busy bagging some stupid bimbo who doesn't see a problem in destroying a marriage. Yeah, I'm supposed to want this dude to catch the killer. He should have been the first victim.
Carol is no better. Talk about the epitome of a stupid bitch, this lady [and I use that term as loosely as her private parts] really annoyed the hell out of me. For one, Mayfield [disguised as the fat Detective Bishop] enters her home and Carol allows him to take one of Beatrice's possessions without asking for a warrant or even identification. Then the real cops show up and tell Carol that Detective Bishop was probably the killer. Does she seem scared? Nope. Then someone tries to break into her apartment to murder her? Is she terrified now and protecting herself? Nope.
If someone had written a human being for this Carol character, she probably would have moved out, gotten some protection, or if she stayed put a bolt or chain to her door and change the locks - maybe even get a weapon to protect herself. Does Carol do any of these things? No, she's too busy fucking some cop and leaving her door unlocked so Kramer from Seinfeld could bumble his way inside. Not only that but she finally meets Mayfield and decides at a bar, "Well shit, he makes a really disturbing "O" face. Maybe I should go date him and let him take me on his boat to an area where there's no one else alive. That sounds like heaven!" Then she gets in trouble after she realizes who he is, yet we're still supposed to care about this and what happens to her dumbass?
Seriously, every character in this film acts indifferent to everything around them. A cop gets attacked by Mayfield before he escapes. Another cop shows up and doesn't even bother to help the fallen cop or see if he's even alright. Burke's wife has conversations with Mayfield without even telling her husband about them, even though she's fully aware he's a serial killer. She knows Burke is having an affair, but acts like it doesn't bother her at all. And when Mayfield kidnaps her daughter in his clown costume, she actually believes Burke sent him as a gift to her! Who read this script and thought this was a final draft? It's barely first draft material!
Don't even get me started on the dialogue. It's just God-awful in every sense of the word. These characters don't speak like regular people. They speak like bad screenwriting. Here's an example - Mayfield has kidnapped Burke's daughter and he punched Burke's wife into unconsciousness. Burke arrives hours later and discusses the situation with his wife.
Burke: "Who did this?"
Burke's Wife: "A clown."
Burke: "A CLOWN??"
Burke's Wife : "He took Chrissy."
Burke: "HE TOOK CHRISSY??"
I couldn't help but laugh at this exchange. And believe me, there are more like this in other scenes that will make you scratch your head in disbelief. Just a really terrible screenplay that could have been better if they had done a lot of editing and rewriting.
Since END GAME is supposedly a thriller about a serial killer [check out these rhymes, yo!], there are scenes of violence and death. It's low budget stuff, but it's not all that horrible I guess. We get strangulation, we get stabbings, we get gun fire, and even necks getting twisted. These violent acts are done quite well, I won't lie. But they won't save this film at all. Hell, I'll be surprised if most of you even watch this long enough to even see most of this stuff.
The direction by Bruce Koehler is awful. Just because your film is cheap doesn't mean it should look it. Yet, END GAME looks like a student film, but worse. Hell, I've seen adult movies with better production values - and better acting too. The editing is pretty bad. The composition isn't all that interesting. The way the actors block their scenes and recite lines to each other is cringe-worthy. I know the script being a total failure isn't his fault and no director could have probably saved this film, but as the visual "mastermind" of the story, Koehler fails. The lighting is terrible too, as most of the night scenes don't have light or are lit under some blue hue that just comes out of nowhere. Also, Koehler doesn't know what kind of film END GAME should be. Is it a thriller? Is it supposed to be a corny take of a serial killer story? Is the film supposed to be intentionally bad? We never know. And for a thriller, there's no tension. Suspense doesn't exist. Hell, this may be the first thriller to put people to sleep since it's dull as fuck. Just terrible.
The acting is atrocious on every level. Kurt Angle is the best actor in the film, but that isn't say a whole lot. He tries to make his character work, but Brad Mayfield isn't threatening or intimidating at all. Angle tries to act scary and creepy, but it comes across as forced and kind of funny. I'm sure he had fun in the role, but I had no fun watching his creepy "O" face and his bad impersonations under various disguises. Here's a man who is charismatic as hell inside the squared circle, but can't seem to translate that in a 90 minute movie. Pretty disappointing. The other actors are even worse. Jenna Morasca, of Survivor fame and would later join Angle in TNA Wrestling for a short stint, is dull as Carol. She doesn't know how to emote or has any idea who her character is. I didn't buy her at all, especially when she plays a stripper who doesn't actually take any clothes off. Eric Wright is terrible as Detective Burke. Here's a guy who can emote but doesn't know when is the right time to do it. He underacts in one scene and then overacts in the next. It's like he's bored for much of the film, making us bored watching him. It's not a great cast at all.
THINGS I'VE LEARNED WHILE CHEATING ON MY WIFE AND AUTISTIC DAUGHTER
- One of Brad's victims likes to associate herself with an older, rich gentleman who will help pay her rent for certain services. I had no idea of the specifics of becoming a WWE Diva.
- Disguised as a detective, Brad asked Carol, the victim's distressed roommate, out to dinner while "investigating". Looks like he has a fourth "I" - Indecency.
- The girls at Beatrice's dance school were pretty bad. Unless they're next to a pole, these "dancers" have no talent.
- Some officer was standing in front of Tom's Diner instead of guarding Carol. I hope Suzanne Vega wasn't part of this production. It could explain the subject matter of "Luka" however, even though I don't condone domestic violence - like the torture I had to suffer watching this.
- Brad gets around cops and his potential victims by dressing up in different disguises. If there was ever a sequel for MASTER OF DISGUISE, Dana Carvey better watch his back!
- Even though Carol is being targeted and almost got killed inside her apartment, she still lives carelessly by ignoring cop messages and leaving her door unlocked. Is there any wonder how she even won her season of Survivor?
- Brad treated Carol like dirt. He must have seen her match against Sharmell in TNA. Don't blame him then.
- Brad disguised himself as Buffo, the World's Strongest Clown. He's no Pennywise, but he sure is a Bozo.
THE FINAL HOWL
What else can I say about this turd otherwise known as END GAME? It's awful in every aspect of the word and must be avoided at all costs, even if you're a Kurt Angle fan. It's the biggest waste of time I've had watching a movie in a very long time and deserves to be added to any Bargain Bin to be ignored for the rest of its existence. It's just a massively cliche, plot hole filled, and horrible script with bad acting and dull visuals. I'm sending this movie into the WTF? Vault where I can END this GAME once and for all while it can...
Oh it's true. It's damn true.
MORONIC MARK'S TAKE ON "END GAME"