Saturday, June 27, 2009

Review: "Crank: High Voltage"

I travel several times a year for my day job. It's a weekend or two, but it's a chance to travel the country and meet all kinds of great and interesting (and sometimes scary) people. Our hotel rooms (usually very nice ones), travel, meals, etc. are paid for and it's a good chance to get to know co-workers from other departments a little better. We always work hard on these trips, but we manage to have plenty of fun, too. I really am lucky and honestly have a fabulous day job with a really terrific non-profit. One of our travel perks is that we can rent an in-room movie per night. I usually pick a recent movie I missed in theatres, but is not yet out on DVD. I saw both the atrocious Hancock and the deplorable Mummy sequel in Chicago this way, last fall.

Last night, I got a much-needed dose of Statham-osterone and watched Crank: High Voltage. The highly improbable sequel to 2006's highly improbable Crank, literally picks up at the end of the first movie. Paid assassin Chev Chelios (Statham... Mmm... Staaa-thaaaam... garble, blargel, gargle) has survived the deadly Chinese poison which forced him to keep adrenaline pumping through his system until an antidote could be administered, only to fall over a mile from a helicopter (free-fall fist-fighting a bad guy most of the way down), bounce off the roof of a car and then land with a thud on the street, where after a second.. he blinks! A black van pulls up, five men literally scoop Chelios off the ground with a snow shovel, and carry him off to a filthy O.R. where Chinese gangsters remove his heart and replace it with an artificial heart, powered by a battery pack around his waste. He learns that his heart is destined for an ancient Chinese mob-boss (the recently late David Carradine wearing tons of latex make-up and yak hair), and he is being kept alive so that said mob-boss can continue to harvest his organs, including Chelios' appropriately enormous schlong (sadly, we never get to see said schlong). Chev's soon after the heart and off on a nearly identical journey to save his own life, while continually (and amusingly) finding ways to bring himself back from the brink of death. This time, he needs to find ways to continually charge the plastic pump's auxillary battery, using everything from a wet finger in a car lighter; jumper cables (on his nipple and tongue); friction (another bout of public sex with girlfriend, Eve played the returning Amy Smart) and several other outrageous acts. Dwight Yoakim is also back as Chev's disgraced doctor friend who plans on returning Chev's own heart to his body (once Chev has retrieved it, of course). New to the franchise is looney-tune Chinese actress Bai Ling as a skanky ho (type-casting, anyone?) who thinks Chev is her Prince Charming because he saved her life while storming a "social club" in search of the guy with his heart in a cooler. Ms. Ling's dialogue is entirely (supposedly) in English, though we are graciously provided subtitles that would make a sailor blush for every one of her insane malapropisms. There's a hilarious cameo by John "Q" Delancie as a foul-mouthed local news anchor and Corey Haim is hilarious as mulleted loser Randy, who gets beat up by a girl. Efren Ramirez returns as well, this time as Venus, the gay; "Full Body Tourettes" afflicted; revenge-bent twin brother of the character he played in the first movie.
The action is way beyond over-the-top, the comedy is as broad as it gets (it actually degenerates into a very silly - and a bit too long - Godzilla parody near the end) and the language couldn't be fouler (the phrase "F**k you, Chelios" is repeated, both verbally and in text so often, I lost count). But, like most of Statham's films, it's a terrific "park your brain at the door and just enjoy the ride" kind of movie. Writers/Directors Mark Neveldine & Brian Taylor (Pathology and the up-coming Jonah Hex comic adaptation) use dozens of techniques and styles to keep the action moving along so quickly, you don't have time to think about how just completely ridiculous the whole thing is.
They also provide a very amusing sequence in which young Chev and his Mum appear on a British "Dr. Phil" type show; where we learn that Chev has always been a bit more than just a hellion and a painfully funny anal rape scene (yes, it goes there) involving a fat biker, motor-oil and a shotgun. Whether you're craving a dose of testosterone, outrageous action, surrealist comedy or an eyeful of Jason Statham's delicious eye-candy, Crank: High Voltage should be in your Netflix queue, if it already isn't.
And yes, if you must ask, room is left for another (though completely unnecessary) sequel.
**1/2 (Two and a Half Stars). Rated "R" by the MPAA for Extreme Violence, Gore, Language and Sexual Situations.
More, anon.


Stephen said...

Statham is all that!!!

Prospero said...

And a cookie!