Sunday, March 25, 2012
Cult Movie Trash: Special "Bad Boyz in Bratislava" Edition: URBAN MENACE (1999), CORRUPT (1999), THE WRECKING CREW (2000)
There are times when a story is so monumental that it takes a trilogy to tell it. THE GODFATHER. The original STAR WARS saga. LORD OF THE RINGS. Kieslowski's THREE COLORS. To that, we must add Albert Pyun's landmark "Gangstas Wandering Around In An Abandoned Warehouse" trilogy (© The AV Club's Nathan Rabin), an epic achievement in the late '90s rapsploitation DTV explosion wherein Pyun somehow managed to get three films, all exhibiting the production values of a homemade sex tape, out of a three week trip to a decrepit, abandoned factory in Bratislava, Slovakia. According to the occasionally reliable Pyun, who actually had a real career at one point (he directed THE SWORD AND THE SORCERER), Air France lost half of the footage on the trip back to the States. But Pyun and producer/star Ice-T perservered, and cobbled together three of the most astonishingly inept, incomprehensible, unwatchable excuses for cinema that the world has ever witnessed.
These reviews originally appeared in slightly different form on the Mobius Home Video Forum in March 2011.
(US - 1999)
URBAN MENACE is nightmarishly bad in every way. Visually, the film is nauseating, as Pyun uses a bunch of garish filters for a washed-out look that is simply unviewable. You can't even see people's faces most of the time. It's just a blurry white. Secondly, Snoop Dogg isn't in this nearly as much as his obvious stunt double is, and when Pyun needs a closeup, he repeatedly resorts to the same shot of a scowling Snoop. But the biggest--no "pun" intended--offender here is the acting of Big Pun, who turns in a "performance"--and I use the term loosely--that defies all description and comprehension. He's wheezing, mumbling, and making zero effort to hide that he's reading cue cards, and I'm actually not entirely convinced that he knew how to read. Not to speak ill of the dead, but man...Big Pun is unspeakably bad here. There's numerous pauses as he either a) tries to figure out what the next word is, or b) has to take a breath. You have to see it to believe it. It's a legit contender for the worst performance in the history of the moving image. Fat Joe is also reading cue cards, but he's at least a little more stealthy about it. It's also painfully obvious that neither Big Pun nor Fat Joe are even performing with the other actors thanks to some hilariously inept editing. Third-billed Ice-T introduces the film and functions as narrator. Also with future 40-YEAR-OLD VIRGIN co-star Romany Malco, shame of the Hudson family Ernie Hudson, Jr., Karen Dyer, Tahitia, Jahi J.J. Zuri, Rob Ladesich, and Vince Klyn from Pyun's CYBORG, back in another lifetime when Pyun made real movies. Almost all of these supporting actors turn up in the next two films. Storm went on to play the ridiculous Irish-Rastafarian gangster Maginty in PUNISHER: WAR ZONE. The best that can be said about URBAN MENACE is that it's only 72 minutes long, and about ten of that is credits. (R, 72 mins)
(US - 1999)
Corrupt promises to leave MJ alone if Jodi will let him hit dat azz, which angers Miles, which, of course, leads to a wild, continuity-be-damned shootout at, you guessed it, the abandoned warehouse. At the very least, this actually looks normal, minus the filters and all the goofy processing Pyun utilized on URBAN MENACE. It still looks like it was shot on a cell phone, but let's take what we can get. The actors are terrible, especially Ice-T, who can actually act. I swear you can see him laughing a couple times. Silkk the Shocker is awful, and obviously isn't in any of the locations at the same time as Ice-T, even when they're in the same scene together. It just looks like Pyun kept the supporting actors around and let the big ballers come in when they wanted. Pyun commits perhaps his most merciful act by having the closing credits start at the 59-minute mark. CORRUPT's running time: 66 minutes. Also with T.J. Storm as Corrupt's eye-patched flunky Cinque, Tahitia, Vince Klyn as "The Sayer," Romany Malco as an obnoxious diner customer, and Miss Jones, better known as Tarsha Nicole Jones, the former Hot 97 radio host who followed up her CORRUPT triumph with an insensitive parody song about the 2004 Asian tsunami. (R, 66 mins)
THE WRECKING CREW
(US - 2000)