Another Look: Crank: High Voltage on Blu-ray


It’s always a toss-up when it comes to the question “Does this film need reviewed again?”  After all, we catch most titles in theaters so you already know what we thought of them.  Then again, when it comes to DVDs and Blu-rays, maybe you’re interested in picture quality and special features.  Or maybe, just maybe, Neil said that Crank: High Voltage was fun and gave it a B grade when really it was a piece of shit.  In that instance, yeah, the film needs reviewed again.

Crank left off with Chev Chelios falling thousands of feet straight down and hitting a car, and then the street, with what can only be described as fatal levels of brunt force trauma.  We all know that it would be implausible for a sequel to follow Chev, but so does the duo of “Neveldine/Taylor” as they insist on being credited, so to fix that issue they start out by, quite literally, having a character tell you this is all implausible bullshit, wink, and send you on your way.  What follows is some sort of violent, Three Stooges mash-up of strange noises and disjointed, rapid fire visuals.  It’s not so much a movie as a first person seizure.  It’s like a live action version of Itchy & Scratchy though somehow less intelligent.  If you like to giggle at flashes and don’t particularly care about story, structure, or competent filmmaking, this might just be the movie for you.

Crank 2 begins with Chelios being scraped off the street with a shovel, then being held to have his organs harvested.  He’s ok with his heart being take, but with some stereotypical doctor wants to cut off his “big white boy strong like horse” penis, he says fuck that and starts killing people and shoving guns up peoples asses.  The movie is full of video game imagery, as though Neveldine & Taylor want you to know that they know this is a silly fuck up of a movie and more video game than anything else.  Chev is in God-mode and nothing can slow him down or even come remotely close to hurting him.  The story, what little of it there is, follows Chev as he tracks down an Asian gang member who he believes has his heart.  Spoiler territory right here so take a moment to leave if you want, but honestly this won’t ruin the movie considering it doesn’t even matter…… And here we go.  It turns out that the Asian gangster Chev has been chasing doesn’t have the heart.  In fact he hasn’t had it in weeks.  It was put into a very old gang boss who is now really horny, because heart transplants work like that.  You may think the movie is now about Chev tackling this supposedly mythical Chinese demigod, but no, this David Carradine cameo takes up all of 55 seconds and is abandoned quickly, only to show up again towards the very end. No, the remainder of the story is Chev being captured and subsequently killing a relative of the bad dudes from the first movie.  Yup.  All that stolen heart shit really has nothing to do with the climax of the movie.  As you probably guessed, Chev “dies” but then at the end he’s no longer dead in case Crank 3 should happen.

As you can probably tell, I didn’t really like Crank 2. I thought the first hour or so was dreadful.  So dreadful it killed any chance of me giving this movie a positive review, despite the fact that I enjoyed the last 30 minutes.  I could keep telling you what I didn’t like – the lack of story, the absurd things that happen for no reason like Chev trying to grind a rail and busting his nuts or the time when Chev farts or the inclusion of Bai Ling, the camera work, the nonsensical and needlessly stylized subtitles and cutaways – but that would take thousands of words.  Instead, I’ll tell you what I liked.  There was plenty of violence and a lot of boobs.  The public sex scene, while perhaps going on too long, is actually very, very funny.  Jason Statham is always good at what he does – he should be doing better.  Amy Smart is hot and skanky and the aforementioned Asian gangster (Art Hsu) is mostly pretty cool and funny.  The Godzilla-esque fight is nonsensical and strange, but gets high marks from me for the design of Jason Statham’s gigantic chin none the less.  It also culminates in a pretty funny punchline.

bd-crank2In terms of special features you get an audio commentary with Neveldine/Taylor or a “BonusView” mode with cast and crew.  There is a making-of feature that is informative, a featurette, and a gag reel.  The special features mostly revolve around Nevildine & Taylor talking about the film and their journey to making it, basically admitting the whole thing was a lark they never thought would get greenlight.  It’s a very interesting look into the minds of two young, new to the game, verging on success writer/directors.  Much like their movies, you’ll either love them or hate them.  The most interesting special feature to me, however, was the one in which they highlight what they refer to as “fuck ups.”  You see, when you toss out all the normal rules of filmmaking, like blocking your shots and keeping continuity and opt to instead rollerblade around and just point the camera wherever something is happening, you end up capturing a lot of shit you didn’t intend to.  This special feature highlights times when you can see the camera in frame, or reflections of lights, or actual lights, or crew members, or cops blocking off roads, assistant directors, or even a gigantic generator just sitting there.  I both like and hate this feature.  I like it because I did this back in high school myself.  You see, in my video presentation of The Scarlet Letter I fucked up 3 times.  Said the wrong name here, the wrong fact there.  Instead of fixing it, I just presented it to the class and said “I put in 3 mistakes on purpose to make sure you’re paying attention, I’ll quiz you after the video.”  It worked perfectly.  I got an A.  The teacher thought I did it on purpose.  So you see, they’re taking our ability to criticize away by readily and openly admitting their mistakes and having a producer say that this energy is more important than continuity.  Which is why I also hate it, as they readily admit to flaunting all the rules of making a movie, make tons of mistakes with no regard to story and are rather only concerned with the visual.  If people want to blast Michael Bay for his visuals and try to tear apart every little scene, whether there were 5 or 6 Decepticons coming up from the sea floor, or this or that, I would hope they shit themselves with rage while watching this movie, otherwise they’re hypocrites.

Picture wise, the movie is presented in 1080p High Definition and looks crisp.  The style of the movie is frenetic and somewhat oversaturated on video, which means you won’t be blown away by the picture on Blu-ray, but it is clean and well presented.  The audio is loud, loud, and louder, often aggressively jumping back and forth.  Turn it down when the shit hits the fan and you can’t hear the dialog (odds are they’re just saying: Fuck you, Chelios, as its virtually the only dialog in the film), but if you turn it up you’re liable to wake the neighbors.  The disc could have used another special feature or two, but it does come with a digital copy and compared to other releases, is pretty tight.

If you’re addicted to any sort of stimulant, you might enjoy Crank 2 so pick up the Blu-ray.  However, if you like your movies with story, skip it.  Like I said, I hated the first 60 minutes and liked the next 30.  The last 5 minutes, or the very end, I again wasn’t crazy about.  So 30 enjoyable minutes of of 95.  Not a good ratio, but not so bad that I have to slap it with an F.  In the end, Jason Statham is cool enough, the boobs are naked enough, and the violence is over the top enough to avoid utter worthlessness, but I can’t say I recommend this film to anyone.  I know this film has its fans, but I’ll never be one.  I can appreciate working outside the system and fucking the rules, but I can’t appreciate a lack of craft and story.  Procede to call me an idiot below.

Grade: D-

Robert Fure is many things: horror expert, ruggedly handsome man of the world, witty prose composer, and writer of his own biography page. Beneath the bravado is a scared little boy, ready to grow into an awesome man and make lies about a scared little boy inside of him. Wait a minute...

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