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"[FILM] Crank: High Voltage"

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Thu 07/05/09 at 12:15
Regular
Posts: 2,781
Note: originally written for my film review website, ShaunMunro.co.uk, thanks!

~~~

There are many films that will claim the mantle of the most ridiculous film of all time, but those films are not Crank: High Voltage. Those films do not feature a man kicking ass whilst running on an artificial heart, exploding breast implants, Godzilla-style mega-brawls, porn actors on strike, and some of the most gratuitous sex, violence and nudity ever put to film. Suffice to say, High Voltage will not be too all tastes, and is surely an assault on all of the senses (most of all common), but in an age desperately crying out for a Grindhouse revival, this is a welcome slice of slick, unabashedly vulgar fun.

The first Crank has been frequently cited as “the best videogame adaptation of all time”, which is a touch curious given that it in fact it has never been a videogame. Instead, Crank, and now its even more absurd sequel, borrow the amiable sensibilities of glorious carnage that these games promote. The series hero Chev Chelios (Jason Statham) is kitted out like a thug from Grand Theft Auto, and rampages through the streets of LA in a fashion undeniably familiar to anyone who has played those games.

Why so many videogame adaptations fail is because they insist on forcing a hodgepodge narrative in order to satiate both the gamer crowd and the casual crowd, but High Voltage succeeds because the narrative is hardly the filmmaker’s concern. Rather, returning helmers Mark Nelvedine and Brian Taylor have seemingly put some of the more hilarious curiosities of pop culture and society into a blender, and then very loosely tied them together with narrative strands so sparse that they only enhance the hilarity of this wonderful mess of a film.

After Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s quest as an action hero went awry with some decidedly kid-friendly ventures, Statham is perhaps the only certifiably bankable action hero left standing in the cinematic arena, and High Voltage only cements this. Statham channels Chelios’ furious brutality as he escapes from capture in the opening moments of the film, yet he also plays the part with his tongue firmly rooted in his cheek; he revels in the absurdity of the film’s…everything. Statham is clearly having fun playing this character, and it pays off dividends.

As for the film’s premise, it essentially replicates the original idea, except this time, Chelios’ heart has been removed and replaced with an artificial heart that needs static electricity in order to stay charged (yes, he survived the 10,000ft fall at the end of the first film, of course). Chelios has to stay “alive” long enough to find his heart, and then hope that returning buddy Doc Miles (Dwight Yoakam) can put it back in for him. Bai Ling joins proceedings as an insufferable hooker, Amy Smart returns as Chelios’ girlfriend Eve (among other characters who are simply too delicious to spoil), and there is a spate of amusing cameos, from a nearly unrecognisable Corey Haim to porn maestro Ron Jeremy.

Few thought that a Crank sequel was even possible, yet not only have Nelvedine and Taylor pulled it off, they have crafted a sequel that is more off the wall than the first film, and most often better because of it. Although the pacing isn’t quite as frenetic as the original film, this is compensated by a bold all-bets-are-off attitude, where the filmmakers explore some surreal and experimental elements that will leave many baffled, but baffled amid a fit of laughter. High Voltage is a bawdy entry into the so-bad-it’s-good canon of cinema, and whilst it is very conscious in its attempts, its self-aware nudge-nudge sensibilities only enhance the amusement (notably as during one scene of chaos, a placard reading “9 seconds later” appears).

One hesitates to recommend High Voltage because it simply isn’t a good film, but it is a great, fun movie. Watched as a serious thriller under the wrong mindset, the film is simply a mess, but anyone doing so has totally missed the point. Those familiar with the original and who are in tune with its Looney Tunes sensibilities are likely to find this something of a post-modern Grindhouse laugh riot. It’s very self-aware, but only makes this overtly apparent for the sake of laughs. Statham is a delight as the film’s lead, again reinforcing his status as the current action icon, and Nelvedine and Taylor must be commended for taking the series in a direction that few will have anticipated. The editing is all over the place, and the relentless vulgarity and disregard for morality will turn away many, but there are some sure flashes of genius present, and for the right audience, this is an outrageously entertaining slice of pulp fiction.

8/10

Thanks for reading,
Reefer
There have been no replies to this thread yet.
Thu 07/05/09 at 12:15
Regular
Posts: 2,781
Note: originally written for my film review website, ShaunMunro.co.uk, thanks!

~~~

There are many films that will claim the mantle of the most ridiculous film of all time, but those films are not Crank: High Voltage. Those films do not feature a man kicking ass whilst running on an artificial heart, exploding breast implants, Godzilla-style mega-brawls, porn actors on strike, and some of the most gratuitous sex, violence and nudity ever put to film. Suffice to say, High Voltage will not be too all tastes, and is surely an assault on all of the senses (most of all common), but in an age desperately crying out for a Grindhouse revival, this is a welcome slice of slick, unabashedly vulgar fun.

The first Crank has been frequently cited as “the best videogame adaptation of all time”, which is a touch curious given that it in fact it has never been a videogame. Instead, Crank, and now its even more absurd sequel, borrow the amiable sensibilities of glorious carnage that these games promote. The series hero Chev Chelios (Jason Statham) is kitted out like a thug from Grand Theft Auto, and rampages through the streets of LA in a fashion undeniably familiar to anyone who has played those games.

Why so many videogame adaptations fail is because they insist on forcing a hodgepodge narrative in order to satiate both the gamer crowd and the casual crowd, but High Voltage succeeds because the narrative is hardly the filmmaker’s concern. Rather, returning helmers Mark Nelvedine and Brian Taylor have seemingly put some of the more hilarious curiosities of pop culture and society into a blender, and then very loosely tied them together with narrative strands so sparse that they only enhance the hilarity of this wonderful mess of a film.

After Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s quest as an action hero went awry with some decidedly kid-friendly ventures, Statham is perhaps the only certifiably bankable action hero left standing in the cinematic arena, and High Voltage only cements this. Statham channels Chelios’ furious brutality as he escapes from capture in the opening moments of the film, yet he also plays the part with his tongue firmly rooted in his cheek; he revels in the absurdity of the film’s…everything. Statham is clearly having fun playing this character, and it pays off dividends.

As for the film’s premise, it essentially replicates the original idea, except this time, Chelios’ heart has been removed and replaced with an artificial heart that needs static electricity in order to stay charged (yes, he survived the 10,000ft fall at the end of the first film, of course). Chelios has to stay “alive” long enough to find his heart, and then hope that returning buddy Doc Miles (Dwight Yoakam) can put it back in for him. Bai Ling joins proceedings as an insufferable hooker, Amy Smart returns as Chelios’ girlfriend Eve (among other characters who are simply too delicious to spoil), and there is a spate of amusing cameos, from a nearly unrecognisable Corey Haim to porn maestro Ron Jeremy.

Few thought that a Crank sequel was even possible, yet not only have Nelvedine and Taylor pulled it off, they have crafted a sequel that is more off the wall than the first film, and most often better because of it. Although the pacing isn’t quite as frenetic as the original film, this is compensated by a bold all-bets-are-off attitude, where the filmmakers explore some surreal and experimental elements that will leave many baffled, but baffled amid a fit of laughter. High Voltage is a bawdy entry into the so-bad-it’s-good canon of cinema, and whilst it is very conscious in its attempts, its self-aware nudge-nudge sensibilities only enhance the amusement (notably as during one scene of chaos, a placard reading “9 seconds later” appears).

One hesitates to recommend High Voltage because it simply isn’t a good film, but it is a great, fun movie. Watched as a serious thriller under the wrong mindset, the film is simply a mess, but anyone doing so has totally missed the point. Those familiar with the original and who are in tune with its Looney Tunes sensibilities are likely to find this something of a post-modern Grindhouse laugh riot. It’s very self-aware, but only makes this overtly apparent for the sake of laughs. Statham is a delight as the film’s lead, again reinforcing his status as the current action icon, and Nelvedine and Taylor must be commended for taking the series in a direction that few will have anticipated. The editing is all over the place, and the relentless vulgarity and disregard for morality will turn away many, but there are some sure flashes of genius present, and for the right audience, this is an outrageously entertaining slice of pulp fiction.

8/10

Thanks for reading,
Reefer

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