Crime / Drama / Mystery / Thriller
Crime / Drama / Mystery / Thriller
A chess grandmaster is in a big tournament, and when his lover is found painted up and the blood drained out of her body he becomes a chief suspect. After he gets a call from the killer urging him to try and figure out the game, he cooperates with police and a psychologist to try and catch the killer, but doubts linger about the grandmaster's innocence as the string of grisly murders continues.
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July 17, 2018 at 03:38 PM
I really liked this movie a lot. Very well written murder mystery with clues that are fair and sort of a scary movie to boot! It really keeps you guessing right to the last scene who is the disturbed murderer. Set on an island off Canada at a world chess tournament, where the killer is murdering his or her (I won't spill the beans!) victims by chess moves taken by the players. Every one and I mean everyone, is a suspect as the cast gets whittled down by the killer leading to a heart pounding climax. Nice photography with a creepy opening scene. If you like to play Sherlock Holmes or just like an edge of your seat mystery thriller you will enjoy this movie a lot. I guarentee you will keep changing your guess to who the killer is many times while watching this.....but use your little gray cells and follow the clues! Neat flick!
Could this mean the renaissance of the intellectual
Knight Moves is a film of/for fruitcakes....a little too complicated to be called a Madeira, but heavy enough to take away the hunger pangs. It manages to convey the horror of death without any real murder sequences being shown and is rather Hitchcockesque in places.
The story centres around chess player Peter Sanderson (Christophe Lambert) and his (possible) involvement in a string of serial killings. Due to his complete absorption in the game, he has already lost his wife and is now in danger of losing his daughter. Although he is the prime suspect, he becomes involved with a psychologist called in by the Police. This role was picked up by Christophe's (then) wife, Diane Lane, who not only coped well with the character, but also with a well-rehearsed bedroom scene. A case of 'truth being stranger than fiction'?
Like many of Christophe's films, this one relies heavily on explaining the psychology of the killer, even if it is only in laymen's terms; but it does deal with complex issues of responsibility and duress. The photography is a juxtaposition of European noir sur blanc and British thriller, with a little American 'home-grown' logic thrown in for good effect. Tom Skerritt is disappointing as the chief of police, a role that he plays woodenly. He is upstaged by his sidekick (Daniel Baldwin). Jeremy is portrayed by Ferdinand Mayne, an actor well known to film-going audiences, with over 120 roles to his credit before his death in 1998.
Although this film was not initially well received, its continued presence on the 'Pick of the week' shelf at the video store proves that it may well become a 'cult' film. It is often in the top-100-rentals slot in many countries and it seems to appeal to a diverse range of people. While some of the supporting cast need acting lessons, its camera work and well co-ordinated plot make this an original and enjoyable 'who-dunnit'...and you really will be guessing to the end.
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Hidden treasure (everyone mildly interested in mystery/action films should see it !)
During a big chess tournament a chain of brutal murders occurs. The victims are thoroughly young attractive females who are not related anyway . The murder is always executed in a ritual way and the killer leaves a message on the wall of the room (written of course with blood) . The police are puzzled since this clever psychopath is obviously not a freak worshiper of satanism or any other cult . Instead he seems to be a sadistic calculating killer who not only has an unspecified goal but is so hideous that he likes to show himself off and drag the police officers to a cat and mouse game , challenging them to find him . The chief suspect for the gory killings is Peter Sanderson (Christopher Lambert) a player in the tournament. Despite his young age , Sanderson is one of the most skillful and acclaimed professional chess players . Right after the first bloodbath , Sanderson starts receiving harassing phone calls from the killer who not only threatens his life but teases Sanderson to find his identity . Two detectives (played by Tom Skerritt and Daniel Baldwin) and 1 criminal psychologist (Diane Lane) co-operate with Sanderson in order to link the dots and trace the killer . It is quite possible that the insane butcher is an envious antagonist of Sanderson in chess from the past . But who can it be ? Sanderson has played numerous chess games and has faced many famous players . Surely a great amount has obviously injured egos because Sanderson won them but which one of them snapped ? . Unfortunately the threatening phone calls do not narrow the suspicions about his innocence . The police seem to believe that the deaths come as the result of the actions of Sanderson and a partner . What is the truth ?
This is one of the most atmospheric detective thrillers of the 90 s . Despite a no-name director and a no-name writer `Knight Moves' proves that professional filmmaking can be achieved with the talented work of the proper technicians (direction of photography , scenery setting etc) and a well written intelligent script . The plot seems to be a combination of Seven (1995) and The Game (1997) . Seven is reminiscent not only script-wise but the dark , rainy and dreary atmosphere is inherent in the directorial look . Well how do you know ! Knight Moves is actually a predecessor to these movies ! ( I believe David Fincher owes a great thank you to this film ) Just because it doesnt have major star power doesnt mean it should be left unnoticed . Few people know the existence of this wonderful thriller and in my opinion it is not fair for this little gem to be forgotten or overlooked . It is probably Christopher Lambert s best movie and a setup for many other crime mysteries which followed in the decade . So if you like whodunits I can assure you that this is one of the best samples.
The cinematography is dark and moody and it helps giving an ominous air to the screen . The sets are perfect for the claustrophobic threatening tone even in scenes with large halls like where the tournament is being conducted . The music and sound effects are also successful and contribute quite nicely to the creepiness of the movie (like the thunders during the storm). Aside from the great direction the basis of the film is a great screenplay with enough plot twists to keep the viewer hooked to the premise . All these surprises build up the tension , leading to a heart pumping final 20 minutes period and deliver a superb climax which you will remember for a long long time . There is a negative point though : Knight Moves belongs to a strange category of films which should be viewed only once and then left with fond memories . This means that your second viewing may come as a great disappointment since you already know what will come . Another minor flaw is that the killer s motive is clear from the very first scene . It is however difficult finding the adult now psychopath and the shrewdness of the director is that he manipulates us to forget the initial scene and concentrate on the twists and the red herrings that the screenwriter has staged for us . It is a truly fascinating modernization of the Hitchcockian tradition as we enter a tunnel only to be `allowed' later to find the light that was always there.
The acting is for the most part passable . Lambert plays solidly and gives a legitimate hero as an everyday guy who gets caught in a paranoid game . He is not the gorgeous poster model or the beefed up tough man . Tom Skerritt plays one of the most wooden and mundane police officers I have ever seen in a film . He is always neutral and cool tempered without catchy gags or profanity . This may render his presence almost invisible , but I believe the realistic approach is achieved here , since most officers are quite indifferent and inert in reality . All they are willing to do is arrive at the scene AFTER the crime and take fingerprints . On the contrary Daniel Baldwin (the most obscure of the clan) is the younger and more aggressive detective and his performance is a pleasant surprise . He believes that Sanderson is actually himself the accomplice who wants to fool them out . He exhales so much anger against Lambert s character that at many points the two of them nearly duke it out with their fists . It is quite original for a movie of this kind since the detectives usually form a harmonic alliance with the lead (a la Copycat) . Baldwin s and Lambert s stormy chemistry chips in the building of more tension and nerve . Diane Lane is the psychologist who halfway forms a predictable affair with Sanderson . She and Lambert were married at the time and it is funny to see their chemistry transferred on the celluloid . Further than the obligatory love interest Lane performs another difficult task . She manages to survive an underwritten role and she gives the best performance of the entire cast . For once again she proves herself a dynamic personality who captures the audience s attention. At short periods she temporarily becomes the lead herself ! Another exhibit for her pivotal screen presence is `Judge Dredd' . Very few times indeed has Hollywood given us active female roles who are not decorative co stars . The actor who plays the killer appears shortly (a la Kevin Spacey in Seven or William McNamara in Copycat) but is also quite good. The phone calls he makes with a special voice changer , make him sound like a distorted pervert and will certainly send chills down your spinal column . This is the most scary aspect of the film which pulls up the agony even more . The paranoid is a very sinister person and his chilling voice enhances the demonic threat which suspends above the heads of the leads and every other person who attends the tournament .
It is worth purchasing this exceptional mystery game . It is not simply a popcorn light movie just for the amusement of it . On the contrary `Knight Moves' is a professionally constructed mind trap which has terrifically escalating suspense and an explosive finale . Rent it , see it preferably after midnight and don t forget to dim the lights . The final part of the movie will certainly leave you breathless . A small independent masterpiece `Knight Moves' deserves far more recognition than it has got . If you like crime puzzles this is one of the best you can find.
KNIGHT MOVES 8.5 / 10