Saturday, September 26, 2009

Crank: High Voltage - The most negative insanely positive review ever!

First there was Crank, an over the top action film that reminded the viewer of Grand Theft Auto. Thought the movie didn't do overly well theatrically, it did well enough on DVD to merit a sequel. And hence this masterpiece was born.

I was immediately reminded of the work of Takashi Miike, particularly the beginning and end sequences from Dead or Alive. Crank: High Voltage is like a feature length version of those scenes, keeping the energy and insanity throughout it's entire running time. And much like another great sequel, Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn, though it always keeps the pedal to the metal, it never becomes tiresome. That's partly because it stars Jason Statham, the best action star out there today, who seldom could be accused of being a pretty boy. Granted, he doesn't have the rugged, hard assed features of a Charles Bronson or Lee Marvin, but he's got charisma and believability when it comes to kicking ass. Even in his worst films he is quite watchable. What also helps the film is it's unpredictability. Whereas the first part may have been outrageous, it stayed grounded in reality for the most part. Crank 2 is batshit crazy. For the audience members who said, "Yeah right" when Statham fell out of a helicopter, made a phone call, landed on a car and survived in the first part, they're throat will get sore from saying "As if" every 5 seconds for it's complete running time. The sequel could give a rat's ass about realism and is all the better for it. The first Crank was certainly entertaining, but this one is swinging for the fences, and for the most part succeeds. Another factor is the stellar soundtrack by Mike Patton. Though it is very much in the forefront and demands attention, it never gets in the way of the film, but only enhances it. During a recurring musical theme, Statham himself starts whistling along to the soundtrack, somewhat recalling Eliot Gould singing along to the score of The Long Goodbye (could have I picked 2 films more further in tone?)

One problem I did have with the film though was it's continuous use of racist comments and names throughout. I'm not a prude when it comes to this (says the white middle-class man who grew up amongst mostly his own people), but I have to admit I didn't really find it that necessary. I know it's a response (by white people) against being politically correct, and it adds to the lewd, "we don't give a fuck about nothing!" attitude, but this film really doesn't need that. Having Statham call people chinks, slant-eyes and cuntonease really did make me uncomfortable after a while. And it also feels cheap because it seems Asians are one of the last races white people can make fun of and ridicule. Oh yeah, and Mexicans too, which this film mercilessly makes fun of. As long as it's a minority group that they won't be vilified for making fun of, it seems some writers take great pleasure in doing so. Take the latest Die Hard, where the Chinese woman was constantly referred to by our hero as a "Chinese bitch". Nice. Being Chinese and a woman are both derogatory.

Still, though a little put off by the constant racism I really love the film and I'd love to hear the writer/director's reason for it. Hopefully it's not, "We all just need to lighten up". I always hate when white dudes tell minorities to, "Whoa, calm down. It's cool that I'm making fun of you. Take a chill pill minority". It's like that guy who has a black friend that doesn't mind that his white friends poke fun with him. Now reverse that. You're one of the few white guys amongst a country of black people, and you learn that if you make a fuss you will not fit in. Suddenly you're much cooler with people poking fun at you. And it makes the white folk feel so good that you think they're cool enough to call you names. (Must stop typing.... turning into rant). It's just funny how a lot of white people are "cool" with being politically incorrect. Why the fuck wouldn't they be? It's not about them, it's about other people. Fucking white people.

Anyway, much like Antichrist, I'm such a fan of the filmmaking, storytelling and style that I'm just hoping the filmmakers aren't just assholes when it comes to their reasons for being "provocative". I hope they don't just find making fun of other races funny much like I hope Von Trier doesn't just hate women. I pray they are just shit disturbers since I want to like their films so much. (on a side note, since so many people are "cool" with Von Trier's Antichrist potentially being about woman's inherent evil, a woman I know said she wonders if as many people would be okay if instead of woman, Von Trier made the movie about black people being born evil. I said the critics would have a shit fit and the movie would probably be banned. To this she responded that today it's still okay to hate women. Good point.)

But don't get me wrong, I don't hate any of the films I've mentioned. Crank: High Voltage is a 5 star film, Antichrist is 4 and a half stars and even the Die Hard flick is 4 stars. It just seems intolerance in movies is getting overlooked. When it's done in South Park, it's done for parody, or to point out the ridiculousness of it. Sometimes it feels like this movie has that South Park attitude, and I just hope it also has the brains to go with it. (another side note, when I complained about the racism in Crank to the same woman I talked to about Antichrist, she asked why I was put off by the racism in movies, but not by all the people killing each other. I guess we choose what we are a prude about). I should also mention, I'm not one of those people who think everyone else are sheep, easily lead into believing violence, sexism or racism are fine because they see it in the movies, so despite my criticism of Crank: High Voltage and other films, I don't believe they are dangerous in any way. I also realize that everyone in the film is essentially a villain, and "that's how they talk" (if that is where the filmmakers decide to honour realism). So essentially, forget what I'm saying, sit back and enjoy the insanity.

1 comment:

  1. I've only seen a couple of von Trier's films, Antichrist being one of them. While I can't say for sure if he is a misogynist or not, Antichrist kinda had a loophole - because the woman was insane. It seemed to me, that the film argued that the woman's misogynistic beliefs were wrong. However, if von Trier really is a misogynist, then he found a way to preach misogyny and be able to deny that he's doing it. This kinda reminds me of how some racists say American History X is a pro-racist film, disguised as an anti-racist film.

    I saw the first Crank years ago, and I don't remember much of it. When the sequel came out, I was like "How are they going to explain THAT?" I'm not much of an action movie fan, but I'm thinking I might not have been in the right mindset to appreciate Crank. If I ever watch the sequel, I'll make sure I rewatch the first Crank too.