There's a provocative premise at the heart of "Master of the Game," but uneven acting, indifferent direction and melodramatic dialogue blunt pointed ironies. Script by producer-star Uygar Aktan might be more effective in a stylized legit production. Aud credibility would be strained by unconvincing characterizations, and overall ham-handedness.

There’s a provocative premise at the heart of “Master of the Game,” but uneven acting, indifferent direction and often laughably melodramatic dialogue blunt pointed ironies. Script by producer-star Uygar Aktan might be more effective in a stylized legit production. Even there, however, aud credibility would be strained by unconvincing characterizations, unpersuasive plot mechanics and overall ham-handedness. It doesn’t help that pic’s vengeance-fantasy scenario exploits Holocaust themes in manner certain to offend some. Commercial prospects are nil.

Helmer Jeff Stolhand relies heavily on Ian Ellis’ crisp DV lensing to sustain claustrophobic mood as “Master” unfolds almost entirely within a single setting. (Pic was shot in and around Texas-based Austin Studios.) Aktan plays a Jewish G.I. who escapes from an Auschwitz-bound truck shortly after the Battle of the Bulge. Unfortunately, he seeks refuge in remote cabin occupied by four Nazi officers. Desperate to delay the inevitable, escapee coaxes bored Germans to play a game: He will serve as commander, they will be his prisoners — and, ultimately, they will accept him as a superior being. Amazingly, the Germans agree to play. Predictably, nothing that happens next is the least bit believable.

Master Of The Game

Production

A Priles Entertainment/P. Dirk Higdon production. Produced by P. Dirk Higdon, Uygar Aktan, Jeff Stolhand. Executive producers, Rod Hardy, Steven Chester Prince. Directed by Jeff Stolhand.

Crew

Screenplay, Uygar Aktan. Camera (color, HD video), Ian Ellis; editors, Stolhand, Andy Cockrum; music, Bryan T. Shaw; production designer, Joey Quinlan. Reviewed at South by Southwest Film Festival, Austin, Texas, March 10, 2002. Running time: 99 MIN.

With

Uygar Aktan, Garry Peters, Steven Chester Prince, Alex Affolter, David Stokey.
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