September 27, 2009
Review - " Crank: High Voltage " - (on DVD) By Roland Hansen
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scooped off the sidewalk so that his unstoppable organs can be harvested and given to Chinese gangster Poon Dong
(David Carradine). After having his heart removed and replaced by a new battery-powered contraption, Chev busts out of
the operating room and heads off to get his heart back—which involves facing off with gangs of murderers, fending off the
advances of an obsessed "fan" (Bai Ling, reuniting with his girlfriend Eve (Amy Smart,) and giving himself electrical jolts
every few minutes to keep his heart going.
Jason Statham plays the straight man with unimpeachable aplomb. This what effective straight men do: ignore all the
silliness around them and approach it without a wink or a smile. There are a bunch of returning faces from the first Crank,
the most notable of which is Amy Smart, whose primary purpose is once again to engage in public debauchery with Statham.
This time, it's on a race track. There's also some stunt casting going on - newcomers include Bai Ling (who parodies her
crazy public image), Corey Haim, and David Carradine as the venerable Poon Dong.
Neveldine & Taylor's approach is varied and epileptic. The film's action scenes have been assembled in the editing room,
with cutting about three times per second, still frames, comic book-like captions, cartoon sound effects (a tweeting bird when
someone is hit over the head with a bottle), pixilation to "obscure" supposedly graphic sexual acts, and a number of other
tweaks to visual conventions.
Two newscast segments featuring John De Lancie (Star Trek's "Q") as an anchorman are bitingly satirical (the one-liner De
Lancie delivers at the conclusion of the first one gets a big laugh). Topless dancers wielding guns take us into Grindhouse
territory. And there's a dream sequence/parody of the old Godzilla movies (in particular, King Kong Versus Godzilla) that you
don't see coming. In fact, there's no reason for it to be there except the kitchen sink had already been tossed in and the
filmmakers were looking for something else.
Other stuff doesn't work either. There's too much Bai Ling - a little of her goes a long way. Her character gets hit by a car
and we cheer because we think that's it, but she shows up again. I guess in a movie where someone can survive a fall from
a helicopter, a little thing like a hit-and-run isn't going to slow anyone down. There's a flashback/dream sequence with Chev
and his mother on a British TV talk show that brings the movie to a grinding halt. And there's a genuinely gruesome scene in
which a man is lovingly and graphically shown slicing off his nipples. As a rule, blood and gore don't faze me, but I nearly
had to look away. The scene is that uncomfortable.
So what to make of Crank 2?
On balance, I enjoyed the
first one a much MUCH more.
It's relentless, but there's
more humor than suspense.
Once a movie concedes that
it cares more about skits,
set-ups, and punch lines than
characters, there's no room
for real excitement or
suspense, and that's what's
missing. Fans of Crank and
other overblown action films
will find plenty to savor in
Crank 2. However, there's not
enough here for me to
recommend it without
reservations to anyone
outside of that narrow target
Crank: High Voltage
Directed by: Neveldine & Taylor
Starring: Jason Statham, Amy Smart, Corey Haim, John DeLancie,
Bai Ling, David Carradine
In 2006, a little movie called Crank was released without much
fanfare in the doldrums of September (where movies go to die) and
knocked action fans on their asses. From its boundless energy to its
ridiculous premise to its even more over-the-top execution, Crank
was a minor masterpiece of insanity—both the logical evolution of the
action film and an original, innovative take on a sometimes tired
Crank 2: High Voltage is the freak show act at a carnival. It's so over-
the-top that the phrase ceases to have meaning in this context.
It's a bizarre concoction of testosterone, adrenaline, and
psychedelics. It seeks not only to top its predecessor, Crank, but to
outdo itself at every turn. The problem with all of this is not a lack of
entertainment value but the sense of no longer watching a movie.
There aren't any characters and there isn't a plot. It's an arcade
video game (as is explicitly suggested by the opening credits) run
amok, a series of sketches crammed together with no connective
fabric. The experience of watching Crank 2 is so atypical that it
passes unnoticed when the movie stops without ending (although, to
be fair, loose ends are sewn up during the end credits).
When we last saw Chev Chelios (Jason Statham, Cellular) in Crank,
he had fallen thousands of feet from a helicopter and landed will full
force on the pavement. A good place to wrap up a movie, no? No! So
Crank 2: High Voltage finds man of action Chelios literally being