Crank up your heart rate with some 'High Voltage'
By G. Michael Dobbs
Three new DVDs are featured in this week's review column.
Crank 2: High Voltage
I am a big fan of the first "Crank" film in which gangster Chev Chelios (Jason Statham) attempts to find out who has injected him with a mysterious poison that can only be thwarted by staying in movement. It is a fast-paced, frequently politically incorrect action film that has an outrageous ending as Chelios meets his fate by falling to his death from a helicopter.
He doesn't, though, as at the beginning of "Crank 2: High Voltage" he is scooped up from the pavement with the aid of a snow shovel and taken to a make-shift hospital where his organs are being harvested for transplant into an aged Chinese gang leader!
First they take his heart, which they replace with a mechanical battery powered affair that is designed to keep him alive until they relieve him of this other organs. Chelios interrupts these plans and decides to get his heart back. His battery pack frequently runs out of juice and he is forced to do thing such as use jumper cables on his tongue to get power for his artificial heart from a cooperative motorist, among other electrifying moments.
From this short description you might be able to tell this is not ordinary shoot-'em-up. The film includes blood thirsty gangsters of various ethnic groups, cops at doughnut stands, a shoot-out at a strip club, naughty efforts to create static electricity, striking adult film stars and a fight scene straight out of a Japanese giant monster movie.
Statham and Amy Smart - who plays his long-suffering girlfriend - are both capable performers who seem to enjoy their hyper roles in this film.
Part action film, part offensive black comedy, "Crank 2: High Voltage" is an unapologetic film that would have been at home at the top of a triple feature at a drive-in back in the 1970s. If you like a blissfully outrageous film, see it.
Baby on Board
With a cast that includes Heather Graham, Jerry O'Connell and John Corbett one might hope this movie would be a cut above the average romantic comedy. It's not, though. In fact, it's a couple of notches below. Perhaps that explains its direct-to-DVD release.
Graham is a cosmetic company executive on the edge of her big break. O'Connell is her loving husband who is a skilled divorce attorney. When Graham is about to break the news that she is pregnant she sees O'Connell with an amorous client. O'Connell hasn't cheated, but she thinks so.
That sets off an improbable string of events that culminates with the break-up of their marriage.
This isn't even remotely funny and the film is quite explicit for a romantic comedy.
The cast struggles to try to bring both some laughs and some sentiment to the story, but the terrible script is overwhelming.
Important Things with Demetri Martin, Season One
Courtney Llewellyn, one of our staff members, is going to object to this review, as she is a big fan of stand up comedian Demetri Martin and his Comedy Central series. So my disclaimer to preserve the peace in the news department is that comedy is all a matter of taste.
While I've enjoyed his stand-up act, which is an interesting fusion of intellectual observations in the same vein as Steven Wright with sophisticated prop comedy, I just couldn't get into this television series.
Each show has a theme that it carries through stand-up bits and sketches. Martin's deadpan delivery doesn't work too well in the sketches and I found the show's set-up a little too mannered and self-conscious.
The disc includes all 13 episodes of the half-hour show as well as commentaries and deleted sketches.
But that's just me. If Courtney had written this review, she would tell you to go out and buy it.