I was one of the lucky few able to see Give ‘Em Hell Malone projected on a moderately big screen down in San Diego at 2009’s Comic-Con. At the time, I enjoyed the flick and called it campy, violent, fun and was looking forward to experiencing again. Now that it’s available for rent and purchase on Blu-ray and DVD, I got just that chance. I honestly can’t put a finger on anything that may have changed from the print I saw to what is now on the disc, but the movie did feel a bit different, though this may be attributed to being able to watch it comfortably in my home rather than stuck in a folding chair at midnight after having been walking the convention floor non-stop for two days at the Con.
I’m happy to report that the film withstood a second viewing and, whether it was just the second chance or something has changed in the edit room, some of the problems I had during my first viewing didn’t reappear. For those of you not in the know, or who missed out on my original summary of the film, here’s what we’re working with:
Give ‘Em Hell Malone follows the titular character of Malone as he comes into possession of a mysterious suitcase said to contain the meaning of love. The object within the case is of great interest to a local mob boss looking to go legit, so he dispatches a trio of nick-named enforcers, Boulder (Ving Rames), Matchstick (Doug Hutchinson), and Mauler (Chris Yen) a female assassin who hides knives in her hoo-ha. Tangled up in the mix is, of course, the beautiful dame with a need for a private dick, in this case played by the lovely Elsa Pataky. Things aren’t as clear cut as they seem and soon the story overflows with betrayal, violence, and the mythology of tearing a man’s heart out with your bare hands.
The flick opens with a Malone voice-over about bullet wounds and stabbings as he spreads hell throughout an apartment complex. Blood spurts everywhere, guys drop dead, and all sorts of violence is imparted. Quite the bad ass opening. Malone doesn’t shy away from blood or violence, killing, injuring, and maiming dozens in a variety of ways. Director Russell Mulcahy (Resident Evil: Extinction, Razorback) also knows how to wreck a pink van. Action junkies will find enough to keep their jitters away, though the real draw for me was the noir aspect. Malone is the quintessential tough-guy; he drinks hard and often, carries a big gun (a Mateba auto-revolver), and wears suspenders and a fedora. Rounding out the noir elements there is some play with light and shadow, classic cars, classic bad guys, and French Stuart as Frankie the Crooner who delivers a whole bundle of laughs.
On my first viewing, I had a bit of a problem with Doug Hutchinson as “Matchstick” and though I can’t say that anything in the flick surrounding him as changed, I definitely didn’t mind him as much. The better quality of the picture made the make-up effects applied to him look better and while he can still be a bit too far over the top at times, I was much more on board. My previous review also described the film as “campy” when talking about the amount of comedy in the film. Some took issue with this statement, though my definition of campy isn’t playing circus music while people disappear and reappear through doors during a chase. The film does feature plenty of humor and while I’m not completely abandoning the campy brand label, it could perhaps best be described to a more general audience as darkly comedic.
Overall, the film is fun and enjoyable. Tom Jane does as he does portraying an impressive bad ass with a sensitive secret and an intriguing backstory. Ving Rhames is as intimidating as ever and another performance worthy of praise is Eileen Ryan as Malone’s mother, Gloria. Indeed, the only thing lacking would be some nude ladies, but we did get some glimpses at Elsa Pataky.
The release doesn’t come with much in the way of extras – just the trailer and three interviews: Thomas Jane, Elsa Pataky, and Doug Hutchinson. The Thomas Jane interview, constantly interrupted with reverse-warning beeps from such truck and paused by Jane questioning the film schedule to off-screen crew, is funny and worth a watch. The Blu-ray has excellent sound and is presented in full 1080p High Definition, though the picture, due to the style of the film, isn’t totally sharp. This isn’t a problem with the transfer (I don’t think) but just a result of the cinematography and the style they were going for. An interesting note – those involved don’t seem to like the DVD cover art, which has obviously been assembled in Photoshop in what title designer, RAW Studios partner and all around good guy illustrator Tim Bradstreet describes as a “Frankenstein job.” On the bright side, Bradstreet is offering his own cover art (seen above, follow link for full size)that you can print out and insert from the RAW Studios website, where there are also some fan made creations. With any Tom Jane release, especially his more independent releases, what’s nice is a trip to the RAW Forum Boards is you can see his and Bradstreet’s (among others, including writer Mark Hosack) thoughts on everything from pre-production through DVD and poster art. Check it out.
In summation, Give ‘Em Hell Malone is a nice blend of noir sensibilities and kick ass action, well worth the 92 minutes you’ll spend watching it. At the climax at the film, we’re teased with a To Be Continued… card and I’d definitely sign on for another dose of Malone.