3 May

Youtube: The Motion Picture aka Crank: High Voltage

Posted by Bryan White | Sunday May 3, 2009 | Reviews

crank high voltage reviewYou know? It’s nice that Jason Statham has carved a decent living playing Jason Statham. Like Vin Diesel, he’s just another action star but a remarkably unique one in that he’s rough around the edges and among a high volume of godawful movies there is a cache of particularly decent flicks. There will always be a market for this guy until he’s too old.

When I heard the rumors that a Crank sequel was in the works, I was at first confused because it didn’t seem likely that you could follow that movie up seeing as how Chev Chelios plunges to his death in the final moments of the movie.

Sorry. Spoiler alert.

And as hyperactive as that movie was, it didn’t leave me with particularly strong feelings in either direction. My ultimate assessment was that this is what Hollywood had come to and that given our status as a western culture, it was the next logical step in the evolution of the action movie. But as mediocre as I thought it was, I suppose it could have been another remake like half of the annual Hollywood output seems to be these days. So good for you, Jason Statham.

Usually this is where the plot synopsis goes. If you read my other reviews, I always do the same thing. Vaguely related anecdote that leads into the review, followed by a quick overview of the plot and then commentary on the qualities of the movie. But I’m at a loss because this is what Crank: High Voltage is about. Chev Chelios crashes to the ground as Crank segues into Crank: High Voltage. He is immediately scraped off the pavement my members of a Los Angeles triad and his heart is removed and replaced with a mechanical heart which will keep him alive long enough for other organs to be harvested. But when it’s announced that the next organ to be taken is his mammoth penis, he flips out and begins the chase across the city to get the heart back so that his burnout heart surgeon buddy can put it back. While he looks for Poon Dong, the triad leader with his heart, the brother of the only survivor of Chev’s last rampage is looking for him by way of heavily tattooed MS13 gangbangers. In the process, many, many people are shot, strippers duck bullets in the nude and kaiju versions of Chev and Johnny Vang destroy an electrical station.

I’m not lying about that last part.

If Crank was like a massive sugar rush of an action movie,  its spastic sequel is more like several tabs of acid. Everything about Crank: High Voltage is retarded, explosive and extremely loud. It’s the cinematic equivalent of having some jackass Walmart employee shout obscenities in your ear for 90 minutes. What have we come to as a culture when this movie passes as entertainment? You’re going to have to excuse me while I get this sanctimonious outrage out of me before I proceed with the rest of the review because I am absolutely shocked that a movie so patently idiotic appealed to me so strongly.

Simply put, Crank: High Voltage is contemporary exploitation. It’s wafer-thin plot hinges on the cultural appeal of energy drinks, porn, pro-wrestling and the narcissistic low-life culture of Myspace and Youtube. Every frame of this movie is offensive to someone, somewhere. What little dialog there is is a menu of curse words, racial epithets and homophobic slurs. Bai Ling, the most unattractive sex-object in movies is a character whose perpetually subtitled dialog is broken english breakdowns of poorly executed American slang. Every single character in the movie is a racial stereotype, excusing no one. It ducks the inevitable accusations of racism by painting the white people in shades as sleazy as every other race in the movie. And I’ll tell you what, I loved every second of it. It takes a particularly great mass of balls to make a movie so shamelessly sleazy, tuning into every single base impulse of the human experience that reminds us all that at the foundation, we’re just a bunch of filthy fucking animals.

Crank: High Voltage hits this pace almost immediately where it goes from zero to one hundred in the span of a few seconds. It realizes that if you’re watching the movie then you probably have the attention span of a goldfish and that in order to stop your mind from wandering and ignoring the movie in favor of texting your friends, someone has to die or some tits need to jiggle every few minutes and it delivers on both many times over, sometimes combining the two for hilarious shoot outs and fight scenes. Ever wonder what would happen if a stripper with big-ass implants got shot in the jugs? Crank: High Voltage has and you’re going to find out. Twice.

It’s absolutely surreal. Nothing about this movie is necessary. It is the most gratuitous flick I’ve ever seen, combining nonsensical plot elements with a wild video game presentation. Every moment of Crank: High Voltage feels like a side mission from a Grand Theft Auto game. Quick, Player 1! A horrific chinese stereotype has stolen your most essential vital organ. Chase him across Liberty City to get it back and unlock a new player costume! And if the junkfood narrative hasn’t either driven you away screaming or locked you in for the duration, the Mike Patton score ought to seal the deal. Crank 2’s producers could have set this movie to an appropriately shitty contempo nu-metal soundtrack as most trashy action movies tend to do but they instead opted for something as unique as the rest of the movie by contracting one of rock’s most unpredictable musicians. Patton has made a name for himself in his post-Faith No More days by screaming into microphones for a living or collaborating with some of the most important names in avant garde music. His soundtrack is nothing like I would have expected. It sounds like a Patton album and is totally appopriate to the movie, frantic during the kinetic action scenes, subdued and sleazy when Chev is looking for something to electrocute himself with.

Crank: High Voltage is not going to be for everyone. It is unapologetically stupid, extremely violent and about a step away from the movie within a movie from Idiocracy, Ass. It takes a certain kind of sense of humor to appreciate and most people are going to miss the point but for those of us tuned to worship at the altar of 42nd Street, this is the movie grindhouse culture dreamed about; a celebration of tits, ass and bullets. The characters are disposable. Every single of one of them and not one person in this movie is likable. Had Chev been shot to death halfway through and his full-body tourettes havin’ sidekick, Venus (identical brother of Kaylo from the previous movie, Efren Ramirez from Napoleon Dynamite) kept going on his own, I would have hardly noticed but the point of all of this was to make a movie as bad for you as any given menu item at McDonald’s. The finishing touch of the whole movie that cemented my positive opinion was the closing shot: Chev breaks the fourth wall to flip you, the viewer, off. Just like the final page of the comic, Wanted. They bear the same message and I couldn’t be happier that the movie bore the same cotempt for me that I had for it.


  1. May 4, 2009 1:01 am

    Retroman Steve

    Oh I have sooooo gotta see this movie. Loved the original.

  2. May 4, 2009 10:06 am


    I’ve been waiting to see this for so long. I like high-brow movies and clever stuff, but I also have a soft spot for the opposite. This looked like the complete opposite and the red-band trailer was perfect. It had NONE of the Hollywood kitch. It just proclaimed: swearing, nudity, gunfights!

    Sure, it’s a stupid movie, but I suspect that it will be the most honest piece of cinema I’ve seen in years. It’s all the middle of the road trash that makes cinema feel so heavy (just look at the awfully cliche’d trailer for Hangover or the impotent mess of Wanted). We need more films like the Crank franchise, which appear to make up their own rules! Or have we forgotten the wonderful things Troma has taught us?

  3. May 5, 2009 1:49 am

    Mike Schneider

    I think James hit it on the head. It’s a total (red(bull)shjt) movie… but it’s honest as hell. I mean there is pornos with more depth then this thing… but this is just a clip reel of money shots. I agree… tell me you’re an asshole and I might want to punch your fucking teeth out but I’ll respect you enough to help you collect them and call you the cab to the dentist.

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