CRANK 2: HIGH VOLTAGE
Review by Gordon Justesen
EDITOR'S NOTE: We wanted to warn readers that some Blu-ray players are having an issue attempting to play this movie, and that includes mine. Customers are reporting that when loading this disc on an internet-capable Blu-ray player, the disc attempts to download some files up front that the player does not have the memory to hold, and the result is that only a small square in the center of your screen is visible for the menus, features and movie.
From what I've read, people with Playstation 3 players or lower-end components that do NOT have internet capability are not experiencing this problem. We are hoping for some clarification from Lions Gate on this issue and will bring you any news or information we receive on the subject. - Michael Jacobson, Editor-in-Chief, DVD Movie Central
Statham, Amy Smart, Clifton Collins Jr., Efren Ramirez, Bai Ling, David
Carradine, Dwight Yoakam
Audio: DTS HD 7.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: Lions Gate
Features: See Review
Length: 95 Minutes
Release Date: September 8, 2009
“Just juice me.”
Film **** (On the Pure Insanity Scale)
Yes, folks, there’s nothing wrong with your vision, nor am I currently experiencing an addiction to crystal meth. Crank 2: High Voltage has earned four stars. I can’t put it any plainer, dear reader, you’re simply going to have to deal with it.
Now before you start saying to yourself, “what the hell am I reading?” or “Gordon, are you on crystal meth?”, allow me to explain myself. Therefore, to prepare for reading this review, I can only offer you the same three words I’d tell you before watching this movie. Those words, of course, would be strap yourselves in!
The best way I can sum it up perfectly is this; Crank 2 has given birth to the words “modern day exploitation movie”. Whereas Grindhouse served as more of a tribute to the style and times of filthy, explicit B movies, this one is basically the 2009 equivalent of an actual grindhouse movie. In other words, forget all my past comparisons to grindhouse movies, like Shoot ‘Em Up or Rambo, because THIS is as much a real deal as we’re ever going to see.
Crank 2 also happens to carry the added value of being the single most insane movie in the history of cinema. Not only does it manage to surpass the craziness established in Crank, which is saying a lot, but it makes pretty much every grindhouse movie from the period appear more subtle, which is REALLY saying a lot. Basically, what it comes down to is that this movie has only two words to say to the rules of logic; f*ck you.
What should be first established is this, the fact that there’s even a sequel to Crank is re-frickin-diculous enough. So in a twisted way, it makes sense to make the most mind blowing piece of insanity to ever be put on celluloid. And as a result, High Voltage makes its predecessor look more like Schindler’s List.
It should also be noted that there is absolutely no middle ground for this movie. You will either love it enthusiastically or loathe it immensely. As far as I’m concerned, and I’m not even exaggerating, Crank 2 is a masterpiece in terms of what it sets out to do.
When we last saw Chev Chelios (Jason Statham), he was having a little more than a very bad day. He had been injected with a poison that was cutting down on his heart rate, forcing him to find various ways to keep his adrenaline pumping in order to stay alive long enough to kill off the culprits responsible. And if you remember the final scene in the first movie, you know that Chelios, in spite of getting his revenge, went out with a bang, thud and a crash all at once.
Crank 2 picks up literally after the last movie’s final frame, as Chelios body is scooped up off the pavement and taken away by Asian gang members. He then wakes up in what appears to be a hospital room of some sort and discovers not only has his much valued heart been removed from his body, but it has been replaced with, of all things, a plastic heart powered by an electric battery pack. The reason for this (yes, there’s actually a reason), is so he can be kept alive long enough for all of his organs (yes, including the little man downstairs) can be harvested and donated to a dying Triad gangster.
So Chelios, who by now has more than earned the moniker of Superman, breaks out and unleashes a brutal assault of vengeance in a way that makes his actions in the first movie seem like that of a true saint. The only catch this time is that in order to keep himself alive, he must find ways to juice up his battery powered heart. He gets all the tips on how to do this from his personal physician, Doc Miles (Dwight Yoakam), who now reveals himself to be a heart surgeon who can fix him up once the heart is retrieved.
You could pretty much make a laundry list a mile long of the crazy things that happen in this movie, and trust me when I say that the insanity doesn’t let up until the final frame. But I wouldn’t dare dream of spoiling any of the extreme highlights, except to say that you can’t go wrong with a movie that includes a shootout in a strip club where even the dancers are packing heat. And though many have disagreed with me, I seriously think this movie has one of the most brilliantly conceived and executed final shots in the history of movies, not to mention that you will never be able to hear REO Speedwagon’s “Keep On Loving You” in the same way again.
What’s so ironic about this whole movie is the fact that even though the overall intention was to make a video game mixed with a live action cartoon, the filmmaking that was applied is nothing short of brilliant. Writer/directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, who for my money are geniuses for what they do, shot the movie in a bold innovative style. The movie was shot by way of hand held HD cameras that the directors purchased straight from Best Buy. The directors also shot many of the action numbers while on rollerblades, and the results were able to catch so much more than what one would get through a traditional filmmaking style.
In other words, this is just like the first movie…only bigger, badder and more flat out shocking in terms of what the filmmakers had the balls to pull off, which I think would even shock filmmakers from the 70s grindhouse era. Jason Statham once again proves that he is the reigning action movie badass in what will become his signature role. What Crank 2: High Voltage illustrates more than anything is that Neveldine/Taylor make the best video game movies you will ever see, in spite of the fact that there is no video game to base of off.
BONUS: Many quick cameos can be found throughout the movie; including John de Lancie (Q from Star Trek: TNG, Linkin Park lead singer Chester Bennington, Ron Jeremy, Glenn Howerton (Dennis from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Troma movie godfather Lloyd Kaufman.
BONUS II: The film marks the final screen performance from David Carradine, who is in true self-parody mode here.
I am convinced that all of the phenomenal presentations I’ve seen in the Blu-ray were something of a building up point to this Lions Gate release which (once again, no exaggerating) is not only the best presentation of this year so far, but the single most incredible Blu-ray presentation I’ve EVER seen. That’s right, EVER! The format the movie was shot in, of course, lends a lot to the outstanding quality displayed, in addition to the wonderful visual gimmicks that Neveldine/Taylor throw in the mix. The level of image detail here is flat out astounding, so much so that your eyes will feel as though they’re getting juiced up from all the in-your-face imagery. Every possible element, including color, flesh tones, facial detail, etc. all appear in the highest form of quality imaginable. Not only that, but the every square inch of the consistently sun-baked L.A. setting is so incredibly brought to life, you’ll swear you can reach out and touch the hot pavement of any street corner Chelios arrives at. Big congrats to Lions Gate, who have thus far made the strongest HD release to date!
It goes without saying, Lions Gate does the audio side of things immense justice as well. The 7.1 DTS HD mix does nothing short of juicing up your surround sound system with fantastic lossless audio that, at this point, is unsurpassed. As mentioned earlier, the insanity doesn’t end until the final frame, meaning the action, intense sound effects trickery and a ferociously assaulting soundtrack (courtesy of former Faith No More front man Mike Patton) simultaneously dominate the sound system for all the movie’s 95 minutes. The subwoofer attention this presentation provides is also quite remarkable. Dialogue delivery is also incredibly strong. Without question, a true example of a reference quality Blu-ray.
Lions Gate also pulls out all the stops in the extras department, starting with a fantastic Picture-in-Picture presentation called the “Crank’d Out Bonus View Mode”, where in which you can view in not one, but TWO Picture-in-Picture modes; the Traditional Mode (which is the basic “small left hand corner picture” PIP mode) or the High Voltage, which is the complete reverse and the mode you should definitely go with. The movie plays in the corner, while a combination of picture commentary from Neveldine/Taylor, behind the scenes footage and cast/crew interviews play in the main screen. I should point out that Neveldine/Taylor are two of the funniest guys to ever do a commentary, and their sense of humor perfectly matches with the style of the movie. Their commentary can also be heard in a traditional audio form. Also included is a documentary titled “Making Crank 2”, which runs almost an hour, as well as two additional featurettes, “Crank 2: Take 2” and “Wrap Party”, and a Gag Reel, Theatrical Trailer and plenty of BD Live content.
Crank 2: High Voltage is both the greatest piece of sleaze ever committed to film AND the most outstanding Blu-ray presentation I’ve ever experienced. Get ready for the most intense, loony, shocking, hilarious and, of course, ELECTRIFYING action movie you will ever see! All I know is that for what it is, it’s a flat out classic that I look forward to revisiting time and time again.