Sunday, September 13, 2009

Mark Neveldine & Brian Taylor's Crank 2: High Voltage (2009)

What's up homiez? Check this out: Crank 2: High Voltage (2009) begins almost immediately after the events of Crank (2006); so if you don't want any spoilers of the original skip this review. However this review is of Crank 2 is spoiler-free, and it's time to roll on...The last time our antihero Chev Chelios (Jason Statham) was seen, he was falling out of a helicopter at a rapid rate, having dispatched his nemesis, Ricky Verona. A hit and a bounce off of a car (hospitalizing its elderly driver, as newsreporter Fish Halman (John de Lancie) relates) and Chelios lands in the middle of a busy intersection in downtown Los Angeles...only to get scooped up quickly, like roadkill, by a crew decked out in black and whisked away in a hearse-like van. Chelios is on the operating table where Chinese doctors are performing some back-alley open-heart surgery. Facially-pierced Triad, Johnny Vang (Art Hsu) enters and as a sign of respect flicks some ashes of his cigarette into Chelios's open torso. The doctors remove Chelios's heart and replace it with an artificial one. As he recovers on the operating table, in preparation for the Triads to harvest more of his organs, next one being his baby-maker, Chelios awakens and takes out a few foes, and it's time to hit the streets to find his pumper in Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor's Crank 2: High Voltage (2009).
Immediately, the pacing of Crank 2 stands out: in the original, every time that Chelios' heart slowed down, the events of the film sped up, adrenaline-style, as Chelios had to engage in more furious and daring action to keep his "strawberry tart" going. As he steps out into the bright sunlight, to a wicked score by Mike Patton, Chelios feels all right. In fact he feels pretty good. He has a battery pack around his waist that's going to keep his heart beating regularly. Only after his heart slows down, after he gives a shotgun anal probe to a henchman, does Chelios notice that the little green lights on his battery pack are diminishing. He gets a little juice from the car that he hotwires, and during his escape, Chelios calls a surprised Doc Miles (Dwight Yoakam), who's interrupted from his butt slapping of his assistant, Dark Chocolate (Julanne Chidi Hill), to get another cell-phone diagnosis: once that battery-pack dies, Chelios's artificial heart will begin to run on a temporary internal one. Chelios will have less-than-an-hour's juice to go on. Find your heart, Chev, says Doc Miles, and I'll put it in for you. The pacing of the film mimics Chev's condition again: this time Crank 2 moves at a relatively leisurely pace, punctuated by some intense action when Chelios needs to get a dose of electricity. After Chelios crashes through his getaway car windshield his battery pack is kaput. Where the hell is Johnny Vang?While Crank had some colorful, comic-book characters, the pacing of Crank 2 allows for more of a display and insight into some of these characters, including the addition of a few new ones. At the local "social club," Chelios rescues Chinese prostitute, Ria (Ling Bai), who is immediately smitten with her savior. Her outlandish broken English is often subtitled, and Ria is a kinetic addition of kink and nonsensical energy who helps Chelios out to find Johnny Vang. Poor Kaylo is no more, but his twin brother, Venus (Efren Ramirez), pops up. He's on a quest to avenge the death of his brother, but Chelios's tells him that he already taken care of that. Feeling a little pity for Venus (and getting himself some extra help), Statham's Chelios tells him that if he finds the guys that he's currently looking for, then Venus will get his revenge (albeit indirectly). Venus's mock heroics are hilarious and his character is a flamboyant and comedic addition to the action. How about Randy (Corey Haim)? Randy is the two-toned mullet-sporting boyfriend of Lemon. Who the eff is Lemon? Lemon is Eve (Amy Smart), who is now working the pole at a gentleman's club, since Chelios was supposedly dead. Haim's Randy is little more than a cameo character. However, in his few scenes, the opportunity to see Haim act like a buffoon, again, with some truly hilarious dialogue is priceless. I grew up watching Haim, and it's good to see him ham it up again. Smart's Eve is more than eye candy here, and she has some terrific scenes again with Statham. She has a fantastic scene later with Randy and dishes out some of her own wicked action and one-liners throughout. Hsu's Johnny Vang is a psycho straight out of the Kakihara school of thugs and he's an excellent foil and nemesis to Statham's Chelios. A very special actor, who recently passed away, is amazing in a small but pivotal role. Finally, Clifton Collins Jr. plays "El Huron," a new crime boss who steals all of his scenes. Statham, Yoakam, and the rest of the players from the previous Crank are just as excellent here.
Despite a low budget, the duo of Neveldine and Taylor once again, stylistically are impressive. There are a bunch of creative scenes of Statham getting some juice, like jumping his nipple and tongue from a car battery to sticking his finger in a cigarette lighter in the back seat of a mobster's limo. Neveldine and Taylor push the ridiculousness of the story to excellent effect, especially when Chelios and Vang meet in an unexpected rendering of the two's confrontation or a fun sequence involving some sassy protesting strikers from a San Fernando Valley industry. Some excellent violent, bloody, and exciting shootouts occur (with Statham getting the opportunity to use another body shield in one of Crank 2's most impressive visual sequences). When Statham and Smart are together on screen, the action is always endearing and usually audacious. Crank 2 has multiple visual styles but unlike Crank, Neveldine and Taylor have refined their overall look, as the film feels more organic and seamless. The action and other ridiculously fun set pieces really stand out in this visual style. Not to mention Mike Patton's score (who I'm a huge fan of) which is absolutely brilliant.
Crank 2 is a worthy sequel to the original, and I hope that this duo keeps making sequels. Chelios's heart might not make it for any subsequent ones, but my heart is certainly with this talented writing-and-directing duo, skipping a beat in anticipation for their next film.


Mr.LargePackage said...

Man, I absolutely loved this movie. It was sleazy, athletic, and demure, just like me. And that is large and in charge.

Aaron said...

Great review, bro. Just know that you're not the only Neveldine/Taylor mark out there as I now consider myself a total fanboy of the duo as well.

When I first saw Corey Haim in the movie I fucking lost it. Wasn't expecting him at all. When they showed a glimpse of him in the strip club, I was like "...was that Corey Haim??" When the next shot of him is shown making the universal sign for jerking off and I realized it was him, I was the only person who LOL'd in the theater.

And I didn't know you were a Mike Patton fan. That's awesome. He's actually the reason I watched the movie in the first place because prior to this I hadn't even seen the first Crank nor did I care for Statham. In the DVD commentary, one of the directors says that Patton's score is like another character in the movie and I couldn't agree more.

I could go on and on about this movie, but I won't. Crank 2 is just all kinds of awesome and your review does it justice.

Hans A. said...

Mr. LP, this film is definitely for you..."Be honest."

Aaron, thnx again, my man. Yeah, I'm a unashamed mark, ha, ha. I think Angel Dust is one of my all-time favorite albums and I love it, too, when Statham is walking around whistling his own theme. It's awesome. I probably should review some more Haim on the blog, too. Thnx again fellas for reading and commenting. As always I really appreciate it.

Jeff Allard said...

Crank 2 is genius! I haven't seen any of their non-Crank films, like Pathology or Gamer, but as far as I'm concerned Neveldine/Taylor have got something great going on with the adventures of Chev Chelios.

Hans A. said...

Hey Jeff! Thnx again for reading and commenting! I'm glad your a fan of the duo also. I've reviewed all 3 of their directorial efforts so I'm going to have to review Pathology or get these two to make another flick quick!