Crank: High Voltage
starring Jason Statham, Amy Smart, Dwight Yoakam, David Carradine, Efren Ramirez
written & directed by Mark Neveldine & Brian Taylor
release date: 17 April 2009
Lionsgate, Rated R, 96 mins.
What the Frak?
As the events of Crank: High Voltage unfolded, I'm pretty sure my jaw dropped in utter awe at what I was watching. 'Did I really just see what I saw? Did they really do that? How the frak did they get away with it?' Simply put, if you're a fan of the original 2006 Crank, this sequel will push you over the freakin' edge; it'll be like a festival of fire-crackers attacking your adrenaline-infused brain. Though, I gotta warn you: don't watch the movie under the influence, because this flick will most likely put one in a coma.
For a guy like me, though, I neither liked or hated the movie; I find myself too stunned by the experience to fully formulate an either or about it. As an action movie, it passes 100% with flying colors: gun blazin', guts flyin', giant freakin' explosions. If you're looking for anything remotely interesting plot-wise, I direct you to the newly-released-as-of-this-writing Year One, which probably has a more sophisticated plot. Hell, as I was watching the flick I couldn't really figure out what the frak was going on other than that our nine-lives bud Chev Chelios needs to constantly juice up his electrical heart, and the Triads want his real heart because of some old folk story (?). Whatever the case, it's the background for the action, and there's plenty of that.
High Voltage defies social barriers and spits in the face of 'proper.' In fact, I would probably rank the absurdities and 'holy shits!' far outside the realm of craziness the 'torture porn' horror movies have. Although it might be too much for me, it's obvious that the filmmakers had a jolly good time with the production of this movie and conjuring up insane action scenarios. A crime lord's henchman having two slice off both of his nipples, a bar melee with a girls breast implants going explody, a Godzilla-like battle in an electrical field, a electrically charged frak in the middle of a horse-race being cheered on by the crowd, a floating head in a water tank, bullets and guns going in and through basically every part of the human body, and so much more that I can't think of at this precise moment.
Despite the absurdities, I think I might've enjoyed it more if it wasn't for the hectic camerawork (which I recognize is part of the Crank-style of directing, but I find myself getting a headache by it more than getting involved in the fights). It's basically a much more hectic version of Tony Scott's Domino and Man on Fire acid-schemed visual flare. And even though for the most part my jaw was dropped in disbelief, I did thoroughly enjoy the Godzilla/War of the Gargantuas homage as Chelios and one of the Asian baddies, Johnny Vang, duel it out at the electric plant. It's great to see either A) those movies still inspire, or B) people still give enough of a damn to poke fun at 'em. I also chuckled at the Jerry Springer/Maurie-inspired TV interview with a young Chelios, basically the same way as he is now but amazingly a little more restrained (he kept back a few F-bombs it seemed, and kicked way less ass). So, yes, I may not appreciate the movie all that much or what it is, it did have some enjoyable, funny moments.
Jason Statham (War) maintains his potty-mouthed, no-bullshit demeanor, perhaps even beating out Vinnie Jones and Chef Ramsey in bad-assery-pissed-offness. Statham goes all out with this one, fully Mr. Intense Guy throughout the entire picture. His onscreen 'girlfriend' once again brought to life by Amy Smart (Road Trip) does little more than flash her tits, get frakked, and vanish from screen. The late David Carradine (TV: Kung Fu) has limited screentime, but damn if you can't tell he's enjoying himself immensely. Ling Bai (The Crow) is perhaps the most annoying character yet put onscreen in 2009, with her constant complaining and dumbassery accompanied by annoying seemingly redundant subtitles ('fuck this', 'fuck that!', 'that cocksucker!', on and on and on...) Efren Ramirez apparently plays a twin brother to a deceased character from the first movie (my memory of the first flick is fuzzy at best), and sorta reminds me of a sexuality confused mentally challenged indestructible zombie badass individual with a half-assed revenge plot. The character elicits a few laughs, but doesn't add anything overall.
There's gratuitous nudity, mass amounts of violence, swearin' up the frakkin' storm, more gratuitous nudity, dumb dialog, cool fight scenes, and 'OMG' moments galore. Crank: High Voltage is a masterpiece in the sense that it truly is absolutely insane with everything that's happening. The shit that Chev Chelios goes through, sorta makes me yearn for a Jack Bauer vs. Chev Chelios movie, and despite my love for 24, I think Chelios would have the upper hand.
Oh, and talking about 'OMG' moments, the very finale; that was just...crazy. Really, really crazy. (Spoiler) So Chelios is literally on fire, his body burning up a la a one Anakin Skywalker on a certain volcanic planet thanks to a certain ex-best buddie, and the final shot pre-post-credits is him sticking up his middle finger directly at the camera? The fire part is cool, I'll give you that, but the sticking up the finger and his victorious 'Yes!' moment? Nah, coulda done without that. But I coulda done without a bunch of other things from the movie, so I guess I can't complain.
You like the original Crank, you'll fall head-over-heels in love with High Voltage. If you found yourself having a giganto headache after watching it (like me), your brain will most likely explode attempting to sit through this. High Voltage is completely insane with some of the strangest, most bizarre and 'holy shit!' moments you'll ever see. With the critical panning and lukewarm box office results, I find it improbable a third outing for the indestructible Chev Chelios is underway, despite creator plans.