Sunday, February 17, 2013

Triple Threat (Wrong Side Of Town)

And now ladies and gentlemen, the first proper blog entry for the year 2013. I've already talked about what I've been up to the past few months, so I'm just gonna recommend that you check out Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence In The House Of God when it comes out in the cinema. I saw it on Friday evening as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival, where a Q&A session was held after the screening, which unfortunately had one offended audience member calling it a disgrace, asking the director if he was a Catholic in the process.

I also watched John Dies At The End this evening, and while I found it enjoyable and funny for the most part, unfortunately I felt the storyline was a little incoherent and I got the impression that I needed to read the book in order to figure out what was going on. Not to mention that it looked like the filmmakers ran out of money towards the end.

Before I attended "Mea Maxima Culpa", I went around town looking for some films to buy. With the absence of HMV, instead of buying cheap films that I've heard of, or willing to take a chance on, the only stores still around have a selection of films that not only have I never heard of, but are somewhat "questionable". But then again, maybe these "questionable" films would provide inspiration for future articles.

One of the DVDs I bought for a fiver was River Of Darkness, of which not only had I ever heard of it before, but I didn't even read the back cover to see what it was about. All I saw was the tagline "featuring the stars of TNA Wrestling", of which three are listed on the front. While coming home from town, it dawned on me that I had another film lying around which also stars three wrestlers that had made their mark in WWE in the past.

Blu-Ray cover

Films starring a wrestler in the main role are always questionable (while I still think See No Evil was an enjoyable enough movie, for what it is). Two wrestlers onscreen can be a bit too much (even Suburban Commando ruined the mystique of The Undertaker in the early years). But three wrestlers? It doesn't take a movie critic to figure out that the film in question is more than likely going to be a steaming pile of crap. I guess the only people these types of films are aiming for are the wrestling fans themselves. But even they can be critical, depending on who is featured (mainly John Cena).

As for my opinions of the former WWE wrestlers featured in "Wrong Side Of Town", I would classify them as the following:

The Good
The Bad
And The Ugly

The Good: Rob Van Dam (aka. RVD), who is one of my favourite wrestlers, with his mixture of athletic ability and hardcore wrestling sensibilities. Been meaning to buy the RVD DVD, now that I think about it as I type this. Never ceases to amaze and entertain, whether it be ECW, WWE or TNA. Not to mention an independent show I attended where he had a hardcore match with Sabu.

The Bad: Deacon Batista, using his real name, Dave Bautista in the credits. I refer to him by his first gimmick in WWE, as I never thought much of him when he started to become popular. I was never impressed with his mic work and in ring style, which came off as an Ultimate Warrior clone, but without the personality and talent. I always wondered who pisses into this guy's cup when he gets drug tested. Not only that, outside the ring he is a complete asshole, with stories of his altercation with Booker T, his part in getting former wrestling "diva" Ariel (aka. Shelly Martinez) fired from WWE (as she was my favourite female character at the time), and instances where he displays his massive ego, especially when it gets bruised when the crowd boo him. One of the most undeserving people to become famous through wrestling.

The Ugly: Nelson Frazier Jr., who is better known as King Mabel (pre WWE Attitude Era), Viscera (Attitude Era) and Big Daddy V (post Attitude Era). A reliable mid-carder that I enjoyed watching, despite the fact that he looked like a man whose man boobs were melting (see above) and his finishing move was more homo erotic than the Bronco Buster.

So, with my expectations already set low, I sat down to watch it the film. I had to watch it on my laptop, as the DVD was a pirate copy that my folks picked up at a market, and stopped working on my PS3 at the 20 minute mark.


DVD cover

88 minutes later.....

In the words of ECW commentator Joey Styles: "Oh my GOD!" My expectations were low to begin with, but nothing prepared me for how bafflingly terrible this movie was.

On paper, it reads like your sub standard action flick, with a hint of The Warriors. But trying to write about why this movie was so bad is like trying to write about everything wrong with "The Room". Not only would this article take an eternity to write at the pace I'm going, but I believe that this film should be seen to be believed. Hell, even director/writer/producer David DeFalco makes a cameo as a gang leader, in a fight scene where RVD grabs Viscera's crotch during a struggle (what is it with Big Daddy V's crotch?). And according to IMDb, that's what the director looks like everyday.

Tommy Wiseau with muscles?

There are so many continuity errors, gaping plot holes, stupid decisions made by the characters, odd scenes, and even during one fight sequence, strange sound effects, that merely writing them down and putting them in context, wouldn't be sufficient into describing the feeling I got while watching this film. Using "The Room" as an example, it's like watching that movie without the knowledge of it being one of the best "worst" movies of all time, and being amazed by the stupidity of it all. Which would have been fine but for one small problem. The action onscreen is piss poor.

The fight scenes and car/motorbike chases are so uninspired and poorly choreographed that I'm amazed they never did anything utilising the talents of RVD. The guy is known for his agility and martial arts knowledge, but whenever he's put into action, it just comes off as boring to watch. With the exception of the song in the opening credits (which looked like a budget version of a James Bond intro), the music varies from sub-standard rap to emo-style metal, neither of which fit with what anything goes onscreen.

The supporting cast can either be lumped as pointless (RVD's black neighbour), boring (RVD's wife), or bland (RVD's daughter). While there was more effort in its "stunt casting", it also comes off as odd. There are cameos from rappers Ja Rule and, erm, some guy called Omarion. Can't say I ever heard of the latter, to be honest. Another somewhat notable appearance comes from adult entertainer and one time aspiring politician, Stormy Daniels, who I know from "The 40 Year Old Virgin" and "Knocked Up".....and nothing else, I swear.

And now, the first gratuitous shot of  2013

The one thing that I found completely baffling throughout the movie are its main actors. I have mentioned RVD numerous times in this article, as he is the main focal point of the story, and I have just mentioned Ja Rule's cameo. But the guy who is the main focus of the film, in terms of the DVD & Blu-Ray covers, is Batista. And I'm not ignoring him because of my dislike of they guy. The reason he is barely mentioned since the intro is because he is only onscreen somwhere between 10-15 minutes.

Look at the covers above. It's not like Batman making a limited appearance in "The Dark Knight Rises", Batista is in a supporting role, yet he is pushed to the front of the box art. Hell, even Ja Rule makes an appearance on the cover, and he's only onscreen for 2-3 minutes, in a scene which contains the most brainless 180 turn in the history of film making. While RVD is our hero onscreen, he is pushed to the background.

And the worst thing is, while I already bitched about him at the beginning of this article, I have to admit that Batista is a better actor compared to RVD, who is so wooden, he even makes Jean Claude Van Damme look like an Oscar winning thespian. Even the introduction of Batista's character was barely noticeable, as I was too busy staring at a topless Stormy Daniels to care. And believe me, that was the only genuine highlight of this movie.

And I'm sure she's the highlight of this article, to some who read this


This film is so bad that there were times I had to pause the DVD, just so I could scream at the screen over how idiotic it was. Other times my mouth was just open in shock. That said, once I finished watching it, I actually found myself appreciating it on a "so awful it's funny" level. But because of the below standard action scenes, it just misses out on being lumped in with the likes of "The Room", "Troll 2" and "Birdemic: Shock And Terror". It would still be terrible, but at least it would have found an audience that would even inspire late night screenings in theatres, as opposed to straight-to-DVD.

Hmm, Straight-To-DVD? Maybe these types of films can be called STD's.....or maybe not.

And on a final note.....

As I mentioned Ariel (also known as Salinas during her time in TNA) earlier on, she was featured in a Smashing Pumpkins video along with Raven, who I mentioned before was one of my inspirations for the title of this very blog.

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