Early in life, everyone is taught that man is the most dangerous game. The Richard Connell short story has been adapted to film many times over the years. It is an easy vehicle to make social commentary regarding the class divide. The Prey is the latest attempt to retell the classic story. This time the story is less about class divide and more about the action.
The story follows an undercover police officer named Xin. After being arrested as part of a raid, he is shipped to a Cambodian prison. The jail is run by a sadistic warden who runs a dangerous game. It is clear The Prey is not interested in doing anything different. This movie is out of Action Movie 101. The warden looks like he is ready to head out to play the back nine. Meanwhile, the hunters are your perfect villainous mix of crazy, rich, and former military. They are the perfect fodder for Xin.
The protagonist quickly shows off his skills. Xin survives the initial raid. Even more spectacular is a short fight scene when he first arrives at the prison. It becomes clear when he is given time to show off his full skills, Xin is going to destroy the baddies. For some, that will be the biggest problem with The Prey. Action movies can get away with not having to reinvent the wheel. Character and story are allowed to take a backseat as long as the film is fun.
Xin is smart to pick up the weapons of the villains he kills. Still, this leads to the action being cut and dry. For the most part, The Prey moves from one gun fight to the next. It is disappointing and starts to wear thin. When The Prey does let Xin show off his fighting prowess, it is awesome. He spins and tosses knives at moving targets and is in a couple of neat fight scenes. Unfortunately, they end anticlimactically.
Some movies sound like they are going to be a lot of fun despite a bare bones premise. The Prey has all the tools to be a fun action movie. The plot is a classic story that is action filled, the villains are appropriately evil, and the hero knows how to kick all kinds of butt. Unfortunately, things do not go as planned. It definitely has its moments, but it is content to be average.