Viewed: 7:10 pm 09/02/06
Starring: Jason Steak-ums, Amy Smart, Efren Ramirez, Jose Pablo Cantillo, Dwight Yoakam
Directed by: Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor
Lionsgate Official Site of the Movie
About the Comic: Sound it out. It’s filthy. Too filthy? Yeah probably, but it’s all in good fun. If I ever did get this crazy adrenaline disease I would totally be eating cake non-stop. And I don’t even really like cake all that much. I love Snickers though. Damn nutragouse satisfaction… Any way, let’s get into it.
Picture this. You’ve woken up to find a DVD on your TV. Your head is throbbing and the walls are spinning, which makes you all the more interested in the DVD that has handwritten vulgarity urging you to watch it. So you do. The DVD reveals that you’ve been injected with some secret ancient Chinese formula that slows your heart rate and gets your whites whiter. How would you react to the news that within the hour your heart is going to steadily slow down until it just stops?
Me? I’d probably take a nap or watch the end of Fight Club. That movie is hardcore! Actually I’d spend it with my wife just snuggling… and watching Fight Club. But Chinese poison isn’t really something I have to worry about. Is a struggling web cartoonist really a hot target? I’m not nearly that important. I’m poor… but I’m alive!
Well if you’re anything like Chev Cheliose, the first thing you do is freak out and break you’re ridiculously expensive TV. I don’t know, but that felt really excessive. It’s intended to be this intense display of anger and frustration but all I could think was that he just trashed a really nice set up. My priorities are in the wrong place I guess. Still, I suppose if you’re a rich hitman you can afford to topple over thousands of dollars worth of electronics. Just keep this man away from my DVD collection.
Cheliose, determined to get revenge on those that injected him with this Beijing Cocktail, hits the streets, shaking down information while doing the unthinkable to keep himself alive. The result in a thrilling mix of drugs, sex, and hilarity that come at you so fast and so strong that it practically dares you not to love it. Crank forces its way into your good graces, taking no prisoners as the best straight action film since MI:III and the most exciting action film (start to finish) of the entire summer. I say, “Start to finish” because there was a lot of great action this past season that was drowning in sluggish storylines and bad acting. From beginning to end, Crank satisfies more than Snickers.
The first trailers for Crank looked promising but there was something about it that always reminded me of, what I like to call, last years “Triumvernet of Blah”. The three films included are Cellular, Paparazzi and Hostage. All three have simple concepts and unoriginal titles practically daring moviegoers to stay away. Here’s the kicker: All three movies are fantastic. They take those simple ideas and work them to the bone exploring dozens of alternant possibilities and ending up with some entertaining films. Crank had the same simplistic set-up and uninspired title to round out the quartet. And I’m happy to report that while it captures the worst qualities of marketing and advertisement those films possessed, it also follows through with the entertainment value. And it even managed to score a decent box office.
I’d be lying to you though if I didn’t say the real draw of this film for me is Jason Steak-ums. Best know for his work in movies like Snatch and The Transporter, Steak-ums has found a real knack for fast paced in-your-face action leads, and memorable bit parts in the flashy big budget pictures. He’s fast becoming a real action monster and I’d have it no other way. He’s like Bruce Willis to The Rock’s Schwarzenegger and Diesel’s Stallone, not that the older guys are on their way out, but the new generation of action is in very good hands.
Statham does a really great job in the roll surprising me with his ability to really freak out. If you look at his theatrical history, he seems like a mismatch for the part. Steak-ums is always play the laid back cool guy that hangs in the back and pipes in something vulgarly insightful with his smooth British accent. To watch him kicking and screaming for an hour and a half was a new experience but he pulled it off quite well.
Crank’s is really a one-man show, but the supporting cast assembled to move the story along serves that purpose but that’s about it. The stand outs are Amy Smart, who plays is super sexy very willing girlfriend, and Chev’s crooked doctor played by Dwight Yoakam. Smart’s never looked better and while she’s not given much to say she contributes a lot to one of the most memorable scenes of the film. Yoakam has always been a lot of fun to watch on screen ever since his disturbing performance as Raul in Panic Room. He has an ability to really make the character his own and while he has some fun with the crazy doctor in Crank, there was far to little of him to really establish anything.
As for the villains, there wasn’t much of a personality from any of them to make them memorable. They bring nothing to the table except what the script ask for, and in that they helped progress Chev through the story, but added next to nothing to it.
When I first heard the actual premise for Crank I instantly thought, “Hey, this might work better as a comedy.” I could just see Jim Carry pumping his arms running on a treadmill, looking ridiculous trying to keep his adrenalin up. Sure enough there is a hefty chunk of this movie that plays out in a very funny way. The waffle iron, the sex scene, even the massive erection – all laugh out loud hysterical. I wouldn’t want to take out all the drugs, action and killing that make Crank what it is, but this is a theme that easily could have jumped genres.
Something that struck me as slightly off was the music of the film. The fast paced non-stop theme of the movie seemed like a great opportunity to go all out and sort of punk up the place. But what they used felt watered down and washed out. It was there but it contributed next to nothing in terms of atmosphere and emotion. The only songs that ends up standing out are Achy Breaky Heart and Everybody’s talkin’, placed in the film clearly as attempts at humor that make you smile, but also act as a bitter reminder for how lacking the rest of the soundtrack is.
Imagine my surprise when good friend Mitch Clem was raving about the soundtrack over on the pimp message boards. I asked him to elaborate for this review. Here are his thoughts:
From Mitch Clem (www.MitchClem.com) in his comments on the Digital Pimp message boards here.
First they played a Refused song during the scene where he smashes the TV right at the beginning. That one threw me for a loop, but I honestly couldn't name a better band to play when someone's destroying a television. Used perfectly.
Then they played "Bring Us Bullets" by Rocket From the Crypt (one of my all-time favorite bands) over the closing credits, which was totally and completely awesome. There's never a bad time for RFTC, and the end of a crazy action movie is pretty much perfect.
I agree, though, that the soundtrack could have used a lot of work. I think, in all honesty, that more punk rock and hardcore would have done the film a lot of good, since it's such loud, driving music, and (if they used the right bands/songs) would have certainly upped the intensity far better than "Achy Breaky Heart" did. If any film would have benefited from an Against All Authority or Kid Dynamite (and even made people appreciate the music where they otherwise might not, given the context), it's a crazy action movie.
Now for those of you who don’t know Mitch, rest assured that he is a much better authority on music than I could ever be, so you should respect his opinion. What Mitch said makes me regret leaving before the credits finished and not paying attention to that opening track. Something to look forward to on DVD I suppose. But I have to say, as the average, not-as-educated-in-punk-rock-as-I’d-like-to-be person, watching this film, I was overwhelmingly under whelmed by the soundtrack. I concede that it could very well just be bad use of good material but whether it is the way the songs were used or the songs themselves, the soundtrack was lackluster.
Thanks to Mitch for letting me use the quote. You’ve brought a great deal of credibility to this review. Much appreciated. Be sure to catch Mitch’s work regularly at www.MitchClem.com
The action is fierce and unyielding. Some of it felt like they had pushed things too far, that they had gone past the realm of possibility, but it’s so fast and rowdy and fun that I didn’t even really care. There are a few moments that are physically impossible. Nothing like - fake looking wire work or impossible back flips, but little things like - the amount of nasal spray he intakes or the fact that they use a defibrillator on him and he’s still kicking people around. Possible? Not likely but you’ll be laughing so hard and cheering so loud that it doesn’t even matter.
The only moment of likelihood I question is the very ending. No spoilers, but it felt like a little much. I think if they had resolved that scene more realistically it would have gotten a huge positive cheer out of the crowd.
As good as the action was I felt like there was something missing. There’s very little hand-to-hand fighting, and as we all know from the Transporter films, Steak-ums can handle himself with his feet. My theory is that he wanted to make the character that much different, otherwise it’s just the same character over and over again. As boring as that is for the audience, imagine how the actors must feel. While I would have loved one or two slugfests, I’m willing to take what Crank has to offer and just enjoy it.
The action isn’t the only thing in the film that barely stays within the laws of reality. Everything has a touch of crazy. You would never do half the things Chev does to keep his adrenaline up and as he does them you can’t believe it’s actually happening. I think that’s part of the reason the film is really connecting with its audience. It’s so odd and bizarre the audience is going to walk out of the theaters talking about it. It’s the sort of thing that sticks with you.
Crank was never screened for critics and I can completely understand why. It’s not a movie for critics; it’s a movie for fans. It’s a movie for people that are ready to hoot and holler at the screen. People that throw pop corn and call the characters “crazy” to their face (errr… screen). Crank is loud and noisy and over the top, and I think most critics are either going to turn a nose up at that or are not going to be able to adequately describe its awesomeness. I know I can’t. The movie is crazy! Do you know how hard it is to get through this review and not talk about the vaporized bird? See, I couldn’t do it! More to point, this movie isn’t solely for individual, it’s much better as a group experience, and I’m not sure all modern critics are considering that perspective when they screen a movie like Crank. Maybe if someone was throwing popcorn at them while they watched it.
Rating: 9 out of 10
I had a really great time with this one. If you like really absurd action, you’ll want to inject Crank directly into your eyeballs, but I can honestly say that it might not be for the masses. The crowd I saw it with came out of the theater buzzing with excitement, but I could see it going the other way. There’s almost too much craziness for it to be universally accepted.
I think so, but I’m seriously surprised. Crank on the surface seems like a one note idea not worth revisiting, but at the end of the day it was just a good night at the movies. One I could see myself reliving. There’s not much substance to it so I’d love to see a ton of extras on the DVD release, but that might be wishful thinking. An audio commentary and an HBO first look featurette would be a miracle. Cross your fingers.
Recommendation - If You Like this Movie Check Out: The Big Hit
I mentioned movies like Paparazzi and Cellular in the review but as much as I relate them back to a movie like Crank in my own head, a truer connection in spirit and execution is the 1998 Mark Wahlberg film, The Big Hit.
This unexpected gem about a group of hitmen that kidnap the wrong person with the wrong connections is one of my all time guilty pleasures. There are plot holes, inconsistencies in acting, bizarre experiments with camera angles and effects that don’t come close to paying off… but it’s SO much fun.
The Big Hit has the same intensity and over-the-top action as Crank, but more importantly it’s able to reach the same level of humor. When a balls-to-the-walls action movie is as funny as it is exciting, it elevates the experience to a different level. A movie like The Big Hit could never be an action classic like Die Hard or The Terminator, but it’s the type of movie that people will remember. Probably for all the wrong reasons, like the poster of the guy in the video store that rents all the porno.
Trailer Hitch: The Marine
Cursed with one of the strongest contenders for worst title of the year, The Marine
appears to have the potential to be one of the most exciting, edge of your seat action adventures of the year. In the title role is WWE superstar (and current heavyweight belt holder I think) John Cena, as a man desperate to save his kidnapped wife from T-1000. Robert Patrick
looks like such a bad ass in the previews.
The movie is also the second film from the brand new WWE production company which this past spring gave us See No Evil, a horrific tale about delinquent teens getting slaughtered by a confused religious zealot in an abandon hotel.
The movie attempted to make an eyebrow-less Kane (also a wrestling superstar) the next household name in terror. Kane was all the rage in the ring, but unfortunately not as accepted on the big screen. I think Cena on the other had, has a real chance. Action is a smoother transition than horror, and Cena has the popularity and charisma to pull off the big move. If you think of how far someone like The Rock has come in the last 5 years, after making the same leap, it’s certainly not outside the realm of believability that it could be done again.
The Marine seems a little generic in theme, but the trailer implies that this movie will be filled with non-stop, big budget action and I’m kind of excited about that. Cena of course does a few obligatory wrestling moves that we all expect. But I think the average moviegoer is able to accept things like this as a part of the action, and sort of ignore it, or let it go, as an obvious nod to the hardcore wrestling fans that will clearly piss their pants over it. And that’s a good way to look at a movie like this - Accept it for what it is and you’re more likely to enjoy it. I think The Marine has a real chance to surprise and impress.
Non Movie Related Stuff.
This past weekend Digital Pimp was at the Baltimore Comic Con. Well one of us was there. I was really excited about it but ended up attending a friends wedding up in Massachusetts instead. I had a great time even though there was little to no comic related fun, but part of me wished the Baltimore con was delayed a week because of rain. I guess that’s why they do these things inside.
Anyway, Phil WAS there with his bright non threatening smile and sharp more threatening katana, to soak up all the fun that this years show had to offer. I just got off the phone with him and he indeed had a great time. Partially due to the unexpected appearance of Clay Yount, our good friend and the co-creator of Rob and Elliot. The knowledge that he was there hanging out made me miss the show that much more but I’ll have to get my fill of him during my bi-weekly “Clay stalking trips to Virginia”. I’ll see you on the 16th Clay… but you won’t see me. (weeoooweeeoooweeeeooooo!)
While in Baltimore Clay ran into Scott Kurtz from PVP and was promptly invited into joining the PVP guest week which also included fellow Boxcar super stud Zach Miller. Clay was kind enough to throw up a Digital Pimp banner on his site, so to all of you trickling down from Rob and Elliot and PVP, welcome. I hope you find something here worth sticking around for.
Big thanks to Clay and big congratulations to him and Zach for landing the invite. When the big guns take notice of your work it certainly means something. Both Rob and Elliot and Joe and Monkey are more then deserving.
Some regular readers might notice a lack of a regular feature here at Joe Loves Crappy Movies – The 10th on the 10th. The 10th on the 10th is a special feature I do on the 10th of every month, where I invite the readers to vote on a top 10 list to decide which of the 10 will get a spotlighted comic and review. This past summer we took deeper looks at 12 Monkeys, Transformers the Movie and The Crow. The reason that it’s now the 12th and there is no comic or review is because the readers led the voting right into a three-way tie! Last month there was a tie between The Crow and Sin City and because I had done a Sin City review way back when, I decided to break the tie myself and choose The Crow.
I’d gladly break it this month but it’s three movies! Beetlejuice, New Hope and Escape From New York, none of which I’ve reviewed in any form before. So just picking one of the three seemed unfair. I might as well just pick the one of the ten I was most interested in, but that’s not what this is about. I want the readers to decided and I’ve been lucky enough to get about 30 people voting each month, but if it keeps leading to ties… I’m screwed.
I’ve decided to extend the voting an extra week to the 18th. At that point I’ll crown a winner and get the comic and review up on the 20th. 10 days later then it should be, but at least it’ll be the fans decision.
Make your voice heard and cast your vote!
That’s it for now guys. Stay cool.
Live Journal/Myspace/Rotten Tomatoes/Buzz Comix/Top Web Comics/Comics on the Ipod/The Webcomics List/Online Comics/Wikipedia/Comixpedia/JLCM Map!
Joe – The creator of the strip who has embraced giving crappy movies the chance they deserve. Like the majority of the cast he’s obsessed with boobs.
First Appearance - The Introduction
Yeo – Yeo is Joe’s wife and often the voice of reason in the strip. Having her act rational allows the rest of the cast to embrace being in a comic strip which primarily involves randomly punching people, interacting with fictional characters and talking about boobs. Yeo is smart, beautiful and way too good for Joe. Don’t tip her off.
First Appearance - Fever Pitch
Irv – Joe’s movie-going sidekick who’s always down for watching Jason Statham crescent moon kick some thug through a plate glass window and getting some drinks before after and during a Vin Diesel movie. Like the majority of the cast he’s obsessed with boobs.
First Appearance - Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior
Agent 337 George Jones – A government Agent that took over for Joe after he was bad-mouthing President Bush in the V for Vendetta strip. George ran the show for over a month bring a much needed sense of patriotism and justice to both the strips and reviews. He eventually got too attached to his work, empathizing with Joe’s plight to give crappy movies a fair shake. In a way he came to love crappy movies as well and was pushed out of the position. He spiraled out of control and ended up in prison. His adventures will be told in the limited series JLCM Presents: 337 Locked Up which is set to début Christmas of 09.
First Appearance - V for Vendetta
Other Notable Appearances: Stay Alive, Ice age 2, Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector, Slither, Here Comes Guest week, Let’s Go To Prison
Leonidas – The former king of Sparta who has traveled into the future and is having trouble coping with the modern times. Yelling loudly and kicking people into giant holes doesn’t really work the same way it did in the olden days. As time as gone by he’s adjusted but it’s a safe bet that he’s always one bad message away from throwing a spear through someone.
First Appearance - 300
Other Notable Appearances: Four Brothers, Strip# 300, The Golden Compass, Rambo, Untraceable, The Ladies of Max Paybe
Palpatine – Former Senator, Emperor of the Galactic Empire, Sith Lord... He shows up in the Joe Loves Crappy movies galaxy on occasion to let people know that they’re being stupid. No one’s really sure how he shows up in this universe but chances are it breaks all kinds of copywrite laws.
First Appearance - Episode III: The Dark Side
Other Notable Appearances: Four Brothers, Night Watch, Saw 3, Are We Done Yet
Slow Billy – Billy is a sweet kid but he’s not the sharpest tool in the shed. If you’re watching him for the day be prepared to explain to him the plot of the movie or how popcorn works or, not so much where babies come from, but what babies are. He’s a complete moron.
First Appearance - Four Brothers
Other Notable Appearances: The Chronicles of Narnia, The Da Vinci Code, Vantage Point, Journey to the Center of the Earth
Kyle the Movie Snob – Be careful what fun facts about movies you tell your friends at a friendly gathering or in line for the latest blockbuster, because if you’re even slightly wrong, Kyle will be more than happy to let you know. He usually gets what’s coming to him though. Poor guy has cracked three ribs since joining the JLCM cast.
First Appearance - Ultraviolet
Other Notable Appearances: 16 Blocks, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Transformers, Journey to the Center of the Earth
Jean-Luc Picard – Another lawsuit waiting to happen is Jean Luc Picard who, towards the end of the strip’s first year, became the go-to background character. If there was ever a seat to fill or a random person to place wandering around in the background, nine times out of ten it was Picard. While Picard has crossed paths with Irv he and Joe have never met. Perhaps they will some day but for now just can an eye on the background.
First Appearance - The Producers
Other Notable Appearances: I’m not telling you, that’s no fun. It’ like Where’s Waldo – go find him!
Ice Cream Sandwich – Delicious and… deadly? Usually when you see someone eating an Ice Cream sandwich, someone else is experiencing a substantial amount of pain. Still, how nice is an ice cream sandwich on a hot summer day?
First Appearance - Saw IV
Other Notable Appearances: Bee Movie, Run Fatboy Run, Saw V