Note: At over 1000 words, here's another long one for you. Enjoy.
Crank: High Voltage
Malleus. Incus. Stapes. Someone once told me that when a person falls from a tremendous height, these three tiny bones located in the ear are the only bones in the entire human body that don't shatter upon impact. Bearing this in mind, Crank's Chev Chelios (Jason Statham) should be dead, and Crank: High Voltage seems to agree since they devote the first few minutes of the film recounting the event using 8-bit theatre. But a strange thing happened at the end of Crank. Apparently, a group of Chinese mobsters saved the crime scene cleaners of LA the trouble of scraping Chelios' body off the ground by quickly abducting it in order to extract its super human organs. And thus Crank: High Voltage is born.
While High Voltage picks up immediately where the first film left off, the actual events are three months ahead in the film's continuity. Chelios has spent a quarter of a year incapacitated in a Chinese mob hideout where the Triads intend to harvest and sell his organs. As it turns out, the father of the Triads, Poon Dong (played by David Carradine, though you'd never guess it), is suffering from heart failure at the tender age of "rumoured to be 100". The plan is to steal Chelios' titanium ticker and give it to the old man to extend his life and permanently endear the benefactor to him. The Triads successfully steal the heart and replace it with a temporary battery powered one, but before they can take anything else out of Chelios, he wakes up and initiates a fire storm of mayhem all across Los Angeles. The only catch is that he must remain electrically charged to stay alive, which involves getting juiced frequently using everything from car engines to tasers.
Before you ask yourself any questions like "Why didn't they just kill him as soon as they pulled out the heart?" or "What happened to the poison from the first film that should probably render the heart valueless?" let me remind you (or make clear) exactly what type of film Crank: High Voltage is. This is the type of film that doesn't have the patience for fluff like plausibility and plot. This is the type of film so relentlessly excessive that it's probably been drip fed a mixture of Red Bull, Mountain Dew, and Absinthe since conception. This is the type of film for people who have been so utterly and irreversibly desensitized by sex, violence, and sexy violence, that its sole mission is to shock those people into paying attention while at the same time weeding out the losers. High Voltage knows that it probably shouldn't exist, so it goes absolutely crazy and takes glee in just simply being around. At the same time, High Voltage knows that its target audience has seen it all before in the first film, so the only way they can possibly outdo themselves is by a constant assault of real-world cartoon mayhem in a tongue and cheek execution. The ensuing ride is a mainstream cinematic experience unlike anything the average North American audience has seen before.
I strongly believe that a health meter, score counter, and mini-map would've made this film infinitely better.
Crank: High Voltage is undeniably fun, but there is an unfortunate major failing that will probably irk many fans of the first film. To help illustrate this, let's say for sake of example that your parents ask you what you would like for dinner one evening. "Anything but fried chicken," is something you might reasonably reply. The dinner hour rolls around and you hastily run to the table only to find, sure enough, a big old greasy bucket of KFC. High Voltage evokes the exact same feeling of disappointment in that of all the possibilities and surprises, not only did they take a wrong turn but they probably made a deliberate wrong turn into territory you hoped they would avoid. Crank 2 is very keen to remind us of Crank 1, and this is a problem because Crank 2 spends an inordinate amount of time trying to manage a sort closure from the loony plot of Crank 1 that no one really cares about. The first Crank from nearly three years ago ended rather conclusively, and now the filmmakers had a free ticket to explore and really see what could be done with an action film with total disregard for public reception. So what do they decide to do? Retread tired tropes and revisit old faces. Great...
When a film is all about relentless chaos, the biggest threat is plot, and anything that either hints at a grand plot or shifts attention from the sight of a topless hooker with a shotgun to the question "Why does the topless hooker have a shotgun?" is bad. I don't care about character, back story, and motivation, at least not when an ultra-violent British man is interrogating a gang banger after lodging a shotgun in his ass. That's why it's such a buzz kill to become reacquainted with characters from the first film that I was reasonably certain had been sufficiently dealt with and tied off. Doc Miles (Dwight Yoakam) is okay because he's furthest removed from the action functioning chiefly as a commentator, as is Eve (Amy Smart) because she's necessary for the graphic public sex scene requisite to top the one from the first film. But why do we need to reintroduce Efren Ramirez playing an identical twin of Chelios' dead sidekick from the first film, and with that all the aforementioned minor loose ends no one cares about?
Thankfully, moments that become too exposition heavy are largely balanced by moments so incredibly surreal that you have absolutely no idea how to react to them. A great example is when Chelios thinks he's about to reclaim his heart in a showdown with a skinny Chinese punk and a tiny red cooler, and the scene suddenly turns into something so bizarre it must be experienced spoiler free for full effect. Actually, the entire film could be summed up that way. Between the tongue and cheek editing, the outlandish levels of sex and violence, and the campy yet potent visual and sound effects, Crank: High Voltage is more an amusement park thrill ride than a legitimate film, though still a pretty good time taken either way.
End Note: Regarding the image... I'll probably try to learn how to use Photoshop or something similar over the summer.