I was looking for a movie like this. The last really fun, over the top cheesy film that I saw was Ghost Rider. What?! I said I’ve been seeing a lot overly serious movies lately. What?! You know movies that are trying to say something about the human condition. What?! Its summer, I want to see shit get blown up. What?! You know – violence, stabbings, a building exploding, a car rolling over, a Ferrari getting smashed, something. What?! I’m not saying The Condemned isn’t a message movie. What?! Yeah, believe it or not The Condemned is not only an over the top, brutally violent action flick, but it also has the gall to have a message! What?!
For the uninitiated The Condemned is meant to be a launching pad movie for wrestling superstar, WWE’s Stone Cold Steve Austin. What?! The man certainly has an action movie star quality. What?! He can’t act yet. What?! I know that may surprise some of you. What?! But he definitely fills up a screen. What?! The camera loves him. What?! I said he pops off the screen. What?!
Ice-T did this movie years ago, back then it was called Surviving The Game. What?! I said this film isn’t an original concept. What?! No, really, it’s been done before. What?! This time out its rich television producer, Ian Breckel (Robert Mammone) who has dreams of creating a show that will be bigger than the Superbowl. What?! He does this by producing a reality television show where he brings together Condemned prisoners from around the world to compete on a remote Island. What?! The rules are simple – Fight or Die. What?!
I said you have to kill or be killed. What?! And the entire thing will be streamed over the internet at a cost of $59.99. What?! The man is going to become rich. What?! As the brutality level starts to ramp up, some of his crew starts to develop a little bit of a conscience. What?! The film turns into a message movie. What?! About how the public should be ashamed for wanting to watch this trash. What?! Yeah the producers of the film want to have it both ways. What?! Surprisingly, the message works. What?!
Where The Condemned fails a bit is that it is so over the top brutal in some points that it becomes hard to watch. What?! Yeah, I know I said I want to see something violent, but cartoon violence. What?! You know, like ID4 level of violence. What?! There’s a disturbing rape scene in this film. What?! They don’t show anything, but the way it’s handled, you certainly get the message. What?!
The film does a pretty good job of making us care about all the people on the Island, without actually telling us who they are, or even going into great detail about why they ended up on death row to begin with. What?! Director/Screenwriter Scott Wiper, adds a real layer to this by showing us the outside reaction to what’s going on the Island. What?!
It adds real depth the story. What?! Yeah, it’s pretty weighty. What?! This film is dirty, grimy, and muddy there’s no Hollywood gloss to it. What?! It’s exactly how a film like this should look.
I didn’t want to see this film but Lion’s Gate forced me to. What? They sent me some fandango bucks to go see it on the condition that I write the review. What?! It turned out to be a surprisingly decent flick. What?! I was surprised by how much I liked it. Should you run out and see it in a theater? Probably not. What?! But it’s definitely worth a DVD rental.
Final Grade (What?!) B-
By Michelle Alexandria