Friday, December 3, 2010


This is a brutal let down when you consider that it was helmed by the guy who delivered “Food of the Gods 2.” I suspect this film reflects a pang of autobiographical yearning on Damian Lee’s part, as he was at one time a bare knuckle fighter, but this thing is bogged down by ambitions of becoming a sensitive piece of art. Somewhere inside this movie’s morbidly obese husk chokes the heart of a true action film. The subject is somewhat personal to Lee, prompting a more serious treatment of the material than it actually deserves. I’m not calling the guy out on a failed volley into fine cinema. I’m just saying this movie tries too hard to be something it’s not instead of devoting ample time to bone crunching action.

This tangled mess stars Vernon Wells, who’s best know for mainly playing bad guy rolls (most notably Wez from “The Road Warrior”). Here, Wells trades in his head of dick for a heart of gold, portraying the kindly but troubled Roo, a past his prime brawler who’s wasted his better years slugging it out in an illegal fight club known as “the circle.” When friend and manager Casper (William Sanderson) cajoles Roo into retiring before he winds up with a curdled brain, Circle fight promoter Napoleon’s business nose dives. Casper employs Roo down at his boxing gym, and while mopping up spit and scrubbing toilets, a romance develops between him and woefully unattractive Tom girl mechanic, Charlie. Her old man’s got a gambling problem though, and coincidentally owes Napoleon big time. Napoleon promises to forgive his debts though if Roo will step into the Circle one last time to fight his new champion, Cannon.

Ironically, this is a fight drama where the fights themselves actually contain no drama whatsoever. The wins and losses merely exist to move the story along, but the fights themselves are just kind of there. Imagine a porno where they just kind of gloss over the fuck scenes to get to the plot. That’s what you get here.

So, Roo goes down for Cannon like a drunken prom queen, and this is when the story becomes unnecessarily convoluted. Napoleon is also grooming legit prize fighter Razor Jones, who jumps ship for better management opportunities. There’s a rivalry between Razor and Roo that really doesn’t quite work within the context of the film. He’s one of the main antagonists, but he never gets ample time to develop as a character. He just shows up occasionally and acts like Morris Day. Now, throughout the film, Roo has been plagued by a series of laughable flashbacks, which hint at his troubled past. We eventually learn that Roo went through eight years of electroshock therapy after killing some dude in a bar fight. Enter Tenny, a corrupt cop who takes kickbacks from Napoleon in exchange for a blind eye. Tenny is unhappy with how poorly his take has been, so he threatens to throw Roo back in a padded room if he doesn’t come out of retirement. There’s just too much plot at this point, and I’m even leaving some shit out, but eventually all these flaccid points are braided together pathetically and the movie ends.

Now, I’m a forgiving man. I have an absolute adoration for the atrocious. But even atrocities can be completely charming in their own way. Take Vernon Wells for instance. He just awful in this movie, but he’s so terrible that he evokes the same sort of sympathy you feel anytime you see a dead tabby on the side of the road, only funnier. Wells is actually charismatic, so he’s still likable in spite of how bad he is. However, I draw the line at boring. I like to define dull as the ultimate absence of violence and boobs. This noir flop totally qualifies as dull. Dudes rent low budget crap like this because they want to see titties, explosions, and dudes getting their hearts punched through their spines. If they wanted human drama they’d just get married. Thumbs down.

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