Crank: High Voltage
- Wide Release
- Director: Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor
- Written by: Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor
- Running Time: 96 minutes
- Language: English
- MPAA Rating: R - Restricted
- Cast: Jason Statham, Amy Smart, Dwight Yoakam, Efren Ramirez, Bai Ling, Reno Wilson, Keone Young, Art Hsu, Joseph Julian Soria, Clifton Collins Jr., David Carradine, Corey Haim, Billy Unger, Jamie Harris, John de Lancie, Ho-Kwan Tse, Galen Yuen, Setu Taase, Henry Hayashi, Lauren Holly, Ed Powers, Ron Jeremy, Lexington Steele, Mandy Amano, Chester Bennington, Keith Jardine, Nick Manning, Janna Beth, Jenna Haze, Najja Meeks, Sorana Black, Chad Damiani, Larry Eudene, Lloyd Kaufman, Menina Fortunato, Toni Fox, Ted Garcia, Billy Gillespie, Anne Girard, Danna Hansen, Reid Harper, Portis Hershey, Samuel Hubinette, Maynard James Keenan, Yeva-Genevieve Lavlinski, Danny Lohner, Liana Mendoza, Christine Quynh Nguyen, Nicole Randall, Joseph D. Reitman, Tom Roach, David Rubin, Jai Stefan, Atticus Todd, Shirley To, Jani Wang, Holly Weber, Michael Weston, Jay Xcala, Simone Bargetze, Patrick Bautista, Darryl Chan, Alexandre Chen, Nick Dash, Marisa De Vonish, Sabrina Diaz, Tony Flores, Glenn Howerton, Leo Ibanez, Jennifer Kleinman, Hannah Landberg, J.P. Lavin, Josiah D. Lee, Raven Lexy, Bibiana Navas, Jimmy Ortega, Abraham Rubio, Tony Sagastizado I, Kurly Tlapoyawa, Jason Trost, Orlando Wilson
First off, let me just point out that “Crank: High Voltage” wasn’t screened for the print critics, which immediately endears me to it. Just the idea of those smug pretentious assholes having to pay to sit amongst the, you know, unwashed, stupid masses (of which I am one) makes my dick hard. Fuck critics. C’mon, like they’d ever give “Crank 2” anything but a negative assessment, anyways. Don’t cry for them… They get paid to watch movies. You don't!
Secondly, the name of this site, if you haven’t guessed it, came from the original Jason Statham actioner, “Crank.” Yes, we treasured it so much that we decided to christen our site in its honour. That is the honest to blog truth. So, for sure, the moment we discovered that “Crank: High Voltage” was going into production, we knew that we had to be first in line for the debut showing, even if it meant postponement of any plans we might have previously had, or camping out over night, or what have you. The big question: could this film live up to its predecessor? Well, judging from the manic intensity displayed in the trailer, the answer was a big, “Fuck, yeah!” Well, now that I’ve seen it, I’m quite literally at a loss as how to sum up my feelings. Yeah, this is everything I wanted it to be… and more. I implore anyone -- and I mean, ANYONE! -- to find a more intense, more action-packed, more hyper-insane, more transgressive, more fun flick released this year. While other films space out the action set pieces with melodrama, character development, story etc… this film could care less, as it might get in the way of the sheer unvarnished optical assault the directors of this opus want to throw at the audience minute by minute and second by second. To be sure. there are no pretensions to great drama, pathos, or even suspense here! This the kind of film that requires you to turn off your brain for awhile, because if you don't you're liable to be get tripped up in one of the many plot holes that dot the narrative. Who cares, though? This is action, action, action, falling back on an ADD-riddled editing style and a Nu-hard metal score. This is as dope as it gets without doing drugs! “It’s like crank,” Statham tells a paramedic midway into the film. Yes, my dear boy, it is!
Established in the original film, Chev Chelios (Jason Statham) was injected with a ‘Chinese cocktail’; a neuro inhibitor that promised to stop his heart indefinitely if he wasn’t able to keep his adrenalin pumping full-throttle. In a fashion emblematic of its video game inspiration, Chev transforms into a energy-chasing, caffeine fuelled, Herculean masochist; anything to keep his ticker ticking long enough to systematically track down and kill all those involved in his toxic death sentence. Of course, the film ended with him plunging out of a helicopter hovering over New York towards his almost certain death. Well, that’s what we assumed, however, as the sequel switches on mere seconds after the last ended, with Chev literally being shovelled off the pavement and loaded into a van, we discover that he is still very much alive and, well, still kicking, apparently. As it turns out, the Chinese Triad have a vested interest in Chev’s legendary ticker, partially because of its mythic ability to stave off the effects of the Chinese cocktail, and partially because there are still scores to settle from the previous movie, namely with a particular family. So, they chop it out and stick in an artificial one, in its place. While in the recovery room, Chev revs to life just in time to realize that his family jewels are next on the harvester’s chopping block, and in his regular tranquil fashion, he objects -- which is a nice way of saying that he violently dispatches all those present in the room. With a renewed vigour, and a peculiar fashion accessory (a battery pack slung around his hip) Chev sets off on yet another journey, one that lands him smack dab into a rarely seen, laughably outrageous urban subculture, one where a small dilapidated inner-city dwelling, nicknamed ‘The Chalet’, fronts for a bustling whorehouse; where porn stars picket their pay rates; where mean-looking gay bikers prowl the streets looking to kick ass; where every stripper, it seems, is armed with a semi-automatic machine gun and where surly Puerto Rican gangbangers are always ready to give a person directions… and a jump.
Dwight Yoakam (1988's "The Newton Boys") is back, reprising his dubious but friendly doctor character. Despite his penchant for chubby hookers, pills and alcohol (by the gallon, apparently), he also represents the film’s Game Master, hipping the audience to the quick, setting the various rules (for the game) and helping out Chev with words of advice – keeping him scurrying from one level to the next, while stopping momentarily to charge up (dog callers and tasers coming in handy here). He’s also quite busy prepping his living room for open-heart surgery. Don’t worry; he’s got a beer fridge handy, you know, to keep the heart cool. Also returning is Efren Ramirez (2006's "Employee of the Month"), as Kaylo’s twin brother Venus. Even though he suffers from full-body Tourett Syndrome, he’s still capable of lending a hand from time to time, however, you don’t want to be riding on the back of a motorcycle with him. The most notable returning cast member is Amy Smart, as the long-suffering, sugary sweet girlfriend Eve. Since Chev’s departure, Eve has seemingly taken a bite out of the proverbial Apple, embracing her darkest side as a pole dancer in a seedy strip club. Far and away, this is Amy Smart (2004's "The Butterfly Effect") at her sexiest. One specific sequence involving Smart and Statham making love (including plenty of digital blurring) in front of a crowd of thousands of horse race enthusiasts, is about as daring as it gets. Special nod to her stunt double, Karin Justman for some great work. Oh yeah, Corey Haim (1996's "Fever Lake") as her jealous mullet-haired boyfriend, is a hoot. Stealing the show, however, has got to be Bai Ling (2008's "Toxic") as a love-crazed and seemingly indestructible Chinese hooker. Early on in the film, Chev stumbles upon a bad scene and interjects himself into the situation, putting a stop to an obese John mere moments away from hacking up a hooker. “You my Kevin Costner,” that hooker (Ling) gushes. Even though her character is cartoony and Wiley Coyote ridiculous, we can’t help but enjoy her bad-ass-ness, even when she's shooting at the gardener. Why the gardener? Is there nothing sacred in this world... uh... huh?
If you haven’t figured it out already, “Crank: High Voltage” is played for serious laughs, and everyone from the directors to the writers to Jason Statham to the lowly extras, have their tongue firmly planted against their cheek (with a wink or two thrown in, just for the hell of it). Even some of the more poignant moments from the original film (I’m thinking about Chev’s last call to his girlfriend) are re-focused and made the brunt of a joke. Also played for shits and giggles is the re-appearance of a hospital orderly from the original film. So traumatized from Chev’s gun-in-the-face antics in the first one, he has sought therapy from a buxom psychiatrist, played with a saucy sexiness by Lauren Holly. His decision to suddenly go out and reclaim his life arrives as one the film’s most uproarious punch lines. If this sequence doesn’t leave you laughing, then you’re probably not watching, or you’re one of those asshole film critics I mentioned in my opening paragraph. One or the other.
Director’s Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor seem to draw from a reservoir of pop culture influences. The graphic-heavily indulgence of any video game released in the past decade; the chaos of those Godzilla monster movies; the sleekness of those Kung Fu cut n pasters; the stench of those trashy talk television shows, like Springer; the cheek and sleaze of those Russ Meyer sexers; the edgy hipness of everything Quentin Tarantino; and the zaniness of those Looney Tunes cartoons – influences of each arises through the frenzied pacing, and each adds a certain ingredient to the proceedings. The result is a new, fresh and ultimately innovative cinematic flavour, one that pushes all the right buttons (and a few Un-PC ones) in an action sense, while curtailing those things we typically expect of a film – things like plot and characters. They are so inconsequential, in fact, that by the time we move into the film’s final lap, and the crazy elements are giving way to more wacky elements, we practically forget why or who the heck Chev is looking for.
Rounding out the madness of the production is a series of sequences that nearly push the film into spoof territory, namely a Dr. Phil like flashback involving Young Chev (Billy Unger) as a violent, antisocial child, with mom, played by former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell, attempting to cope. Another scene has Chev and a Triad gangster (Art Hsu) morphing into giant Godzilla-like versions of themselves, including a miniature set and a cameo from Troma Studios owner Lloyd Kaufman (2008’s “Reel Zombies”), whose appearance seems to punctuate the sheer absurdity of it all. Lastly, there’s a scene so goddamn insane that it nearly put me off my game, and it involves a human head being kept alive in a fish tank (ala “The Head”) and later used as a soccer ball.
Along with the cameo appearances I already mentioned, also look for David Carradine, Linkin Park lead singer Chester Bennington (in a hilarious scene), as well as Keith Jardine, Keone Young, Ron Jeremy, Ed Powers (my personal hero!), Lexington Steele, Nick Manning, and Jenna Haze. Oh, and Jimmy Ortega, as the gardener.
There’s so much stuff going on in this film that it takes two screenings just to take it all in, and, seeing as how I’m not working on Wednesday, Tuesday night is looking pretty good for seeing “Crank: High Voltage”, a second time. I’m wondering how the producers can outdo themselves. A Crank 3D maybe? Oh please, please, please!