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CRANK
Blu-ray Edition

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Jason Statham, Amy Smart, Jose Pablo Cantillo, Efren Ramirez, Dwight Yoakam
Directors: Neveldine/Taylor
Audio: PCM 6.1, Dolby Digital 5.1 EX
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: Lions Gate
Features: See Review
Length: 87 Minutes
Release Date: January 9, 2007

“Again, this coverage is live and uncensored, so if you have any small children present,  you may want to have them leave the room.”

Film ***1/2

This is a review that’s been long overdue, and I’ve really put it off for way too long, but with Crank: High Voltage hitting theaters in a matter of days, as well as my recent upgrade to all things Blu-ray, I can finally unleash my review of perhaps the most ingenious action movie of recent years!

Never in my time as a film reviewer did I think I’d be saying the following words, but here goes: Crank is a cinematic wonder. Right about now, you’re probably thinking I should have my so-called critic license taken away, but allow me to explain myself.

I label this a cinematic wonder for a very specific reason; it happens to have two qualities seldom seen in any motion picture. One the one hand, it’s one of the most exhilarating examples of guerilla-style filmmaking I’ve ever seen applied to a hardcore action picture. One the other hand, it’s also one of the most gloriously retarded films I’ve ever seen, which only makes me love it even more.

The work here displayed by the writing/directing team of Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, who cleverly credit themselves as Neveldine/Taylor, simply has to be applauded no matter what your opinion of the film is. What they were able to do on such a tiny budget is monumental, especially as far as action films go. What’s more, they managed to make perhaps the first movie to epitomize cinematic exploitation since the heyday of the genre, though it’s important to note that it came out the year before Grindhouse.

To illustrate the over-the-top nature of Crank, one only needs to start with the basic plot of the movie. Chev Chelios (Jason Statham) is a professional hit man who wakes up to find himself in an extremely weakened condition, thanks in large part to the poison that is coursing through his veins. Chev only happens to know this because the culprit behind the poisoning, crime lord Ricky Verona (Jose Pablo Cantillo), was kind enough to leave behind a video message, where in which he happily admits, with a glorious sh*t-eating grin on his face, to poisoning Chev via needle injection while he was asleep.

This, obviously, sends Chev into a panicked frenzy. He immediately phones his personal doctor (Dwight Yoakam) to describe his death-inducing symptoms, as well as to get an opinion on what type of poison he was given. Sure enough, the doctor has a good idea of what he was given; the Beijing Cocktail, which is cutting off his adrenaline.

Chev is told that in order to stay alive, he needs to keep the flow of adrenaline running. Meaning, he needs to find any means available to keep on ticking. And trust me when I say that all possible of resources to keep one’s adrenaline flowing, especially in an R rated movie, will be used.

Basically, Crank is a lot like Speed if you replaced a speeding city bus with a regular human being. For about 98 percent of the 87 minute running time, Chev is running out of control throughout Los Angeles trying to find both Verona so he can kill him, and any means to stay alive. Within the first ten minutes of the movie, he’s in a club with a drug dealer begging for some coke in order to keep from dying. That is one of many scenes in the movie that is absolute genius.

Of all of Jason Statham’s action-oriented movies, this is the absolute best one he’s made to date. When you think about it, the character of Chev is the one he was born to play. He had already made two Transporter movies by this point, and now he’s in a movie that forces him to become the human version of the car in the Transporter movies.

In the end though, it’s the extremely whacked out vision of writer/directors Neveldine/Taylor that makes Crank the one of a kind movie that it is. They incorporate so many unique technical gimmicks, whether it’s with the multiple color palettes or the simple angle of a shot. If anything, this represents one of the best efforts of guerilla style filmmaking to be seen in recent years.

While Crank might be one of the most polarizing films ever made, much in the same way Shoot ‘Em Up was, fans of pure hardcore action movies like myself have come to hail it as a classic of the genre. Jason Statham is on top of his game in his best action movie to date. If you have yet to see it and are in desperate need of a flick that literally doesn’t slow down…here ya go!

Video ****

Though this movie has been out on Blu-ray for a good two years, and there have been many phenomenal presentations released in the time since, believe me when I say that this is one of the best films one could ever hope to experience in the format. The unique qualities of the edgy filmmaking show off incredibly well in HD. The sun-baked LA setting provide a thoroughly eye-gazing color scheme, and even when the image shows some display of a grainy/independent style, the picture still remains spectacularly pristine in crispness and all around detail. Awesome from beginning to end!

Audio ****

This is a film with a ferocious use of sound, and is made even more so by the outstanding lossless audio mix. The 6.1 PCM mix is the standout track here, which delivers every single sound effect through the channels so incredibly flawlessly, and if you’ve seen this movie before…you know that there are many different sound effects to be served, whether it’s gunshots or just the toying of sound through the bold filmmaking. Unquestionably one of the most astounding pieces of sound I’ve heard on any Blu-ray release.

Features ***1/2

This Lions Gate release incorporates some awesome extras for this Blu-ray, starting out with an enhanced feature titled “Crank’d Out Mode”, which is a picture-in-picture track that includes behind-the-scenes footage, interviews with the cast and filmmakers and running commentary. There’s also a Family Friendly Audio track for the movie, which simply has to be seen (or heard) to be believed. And we also get three featurettes, all of which are presented in HD; “Shooting Crank”, “The Stunts of Crank” and “Pushing Crank”.

Summary:

Yes, friends…Crank is truly a cinematic wonder, and I’ll never be ashamed for thinking so. And if you have access to Blu-ray, this is one movie you really have to experience in the format. It’s even twice as assaulting on the senses!

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