Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Crank: High Voltage (Neveldine/Taylor, 2009)

A hyperactive, less arty version of Run Lola Run mixed with the free-range mayhem of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Crank: High Voltage has to be one of the most unbalanced action movies ever made. A shamelessly depraved odyssey across the sunbaked streets and alleyways of Los Angeles, California, the writing and directing team of Neveldine/Taylor have created a scumbag-laden paradise where everyone is either an unwashed whore or a non-white gangster. Sure, there are police officers, doctors, sadistic dog walkers, and degenerate gamblers in this world – you know, the pillars of society. But even they come off as a tad seedy; especially the doctors (I'm eyeballing you, Mr. Yoakam). The prerequisite crazy camera angles, self-imposed nipple abuse, obnoxious soundtrack, a mullet-sporting Corey, garishly dressed prostitutes, porn picketers, close-quarter shootouts, and a bizarre tribute to Japanese monster movies are just a small sampling of the sordid entertainment you get when you sit down and stare in its general direction. Making all other action films seem quaint by comparison, the highly transgressive content bandied about in this film is a refreshing change from all the heroic nonsense that seems permeate popular culture nowadays. The seemingly indestructible Chev Chelios (Jason Statham) goes about rectifying his unique problems with a single-mindedness that separates him from the do-gooder crowd. This guerilla attitude is shared by the, no doubt, overstimulated filmmakers, who literally fill the screen with every wacked-out trick they can think of. And since I don't believe there's such thing as "trying too hard," I was able to appreciate the amount of effort that must went into depicting a universe where random flashback sequences that feature Geri Halliwell sitting with her legs crossed, a strangely attractive Efren Ramirez attempts to use numchucks with Full Body Tourettes Syndrome, David Carradine still acts like he's Chinese, and crowds cheering acrobatic displays of public affection are commonplace.

The story involves a stubbly Englishman with a newly acquired artificial heart spending the better part of his day trying to get back his real heart; all the while, inflicting a lot of pain and suffering on a wide array of ethnic stereotypes – himself being one as well. The fact that the Cockney adrenaline junkie kicks the re-animated head of a former foe soccer-style into a large pool of water proves he's one. (An American would have thrown the head, while a Swede would have disassembled it and sent it on its merry way via a dreadlocks-sporting bicycle messenger.)

Anyway, the film is basically about...No, I think that pretty much covers it, story-wise. I'll just add that after some extremely unsanitary surgery, the monosyllabic Chelios needs to juice his replacement ticker periodically, because the battery has long gone kaput. So that means he must keep it charged by using unorthodox methods. In other words, tasers, cigarette lighters, elderly racetrack attendees, electronic dog collars, and fuse boxes become his best friends.

The epitome of elegance and grace, Bai Ling literally leaps onto the screen as the shy and reserved Ria, a prostitute that shotgun rapist Chelios inadvertently liberates from a dilapidated bordello. Repeatedly bashing the genital region of her obese pimp with a broken BMX, Bai establishes early on that Ria is someone not to be trifled with. Tagging along with the understandably gruff Chelios, Ria, her mouth-watering body fitted with a cyan jean skirt (with a silver purse dangling from a yellow belt), striped knee-socks, a faded purple top with two kitties on it that are saucily separated by a strategically sexy tear down the middle, and adorned with a strawberry necklace and a plethora of multi-coloured bracelets, points him the direction of the guy who has his heart. She thinks of Chelios as her "shiny lunchbox," but he just sees her as this demented chick who won't stop humping and licking him. Which is a shame, because I really thought they had a sweet rapport with one another.

A totally awesome actress, and, not to mention, one of the best human beings walking around on this stink-hole of a planet at the moment, Bai Ling imbues Ria with class and dignity. So what if her aim while wielding duel Tec-9 machine pistols is a little on the poor side, she looked adorable while firing them, and in the long run, that's all that matters. Besides, that groundskeeper should have known better than to prune bushes while black gay bikers, Latino gangsters, and an ethnically diverse gaggle of prostitutes were in the midst of acting out World War III.

Fearless and leggy to an almost maddening level, the lovely Amy Smart is back as Eve, Chev Chelios' long suffering lady friend. Providing a slightly saner counterpoint to Bai Ling's "love you long time" theatrics, the lithesome Miss Smart, while not as comically gifted as some of her blonde contemporaries, throws her never-ending organic structure into the cinematic fire. Whether being molested in the back of police car by a fellow stripper (Yeva-Genevieve Lavlinski), or body slamming Corey Haim onto the windshield of a parked car, Amy gives it her all.

Speaking of which, the amount of gusto she displays during the film's obligatory public fornication scene was off the charts in terms of courageousness. I mean, it's one thing to lunge your crotch at a golden pole while wearing black tape over your nipples, it's quite another to perform the reverse cowgirl position in the middle of a horse track. The look of joy on her face as that giant horse cock went flying over top of her in slow-motion as Statham plowed into her with his human cock with horse-like properties is a memory I will cherish for days to come.



  1. You had me at "transgressive." :-)

    A week ago I would not have watched this movie if it was being projected on a peeler's ass, but this was the third, I dare say "glowing" review.

    That's it. I'm going.

  2. I can't fucking wait for this one!

    Funny, I hated Shoot 'Em Up with its damn animatronic baby...but I loved the stupidly awesome first Crank film...I'm not sure where I draw the line on big dumb fun, but it's safe to say, I like what I like and don't like what I don't like. So there.

  3. Darius Whiteplume: Sweet. Though I should warn you, I have no idea what "transgressive" means. ;)

    Mr. Canacorn: I couldn't get into Shoot 'Em Up; I didn't like the way the guns sounded. The Crank movies, on the other hand, benefit from being totally stupid in one scene, and oddly intelligent in the next.

  4. I love Bai Ling.

    Thanks for describing the horse-track sex scene in such vivid detail. It was censored in Thailand.

  5. Bai Ling rocks.

    A couple of people walked out during the horse-track scene at my Crank 2 showing.

  6. "He was dead...but he got better."
    Oh. My. God. Can't. Breathe.

    Love your description of Bai Ling's attire!

    That fornication, that might be more over the top than the climax (no pun intended) of Munich. Probably more appropriately over the top, too.

    Wow, this film sounds more craptastic than Torque.

  7. Thanks. I wish there were more jobs that involved describing Bai Ling's attire. :(

    I can't imagine what the fornication scene is Crank 3 is gonna entail (no pun intended*).

    Oh, and I thought if you when they mentioned "Gamecocks" on Jeopardy the other day.

    * Horses have tails.