Recently we’ve been given a smattering of films at the box office that can only be described as guilty pleasures. Shoot Em’ Up. Crank. Even Hot Fuzz to an extent. But only one of those films has had a sequel…and it was my least favorite of the three. In fact I didn’t even like Crank when I watched it and because of this I rolled my eyes at Crank 2 and wrote it off as a giant waste of time. Enter the Blu-ray in my house and I’ve no choice but to pop the disc in and sit back and wait for the inevitable barrage of stupidity that is about to engulf my TV and sound system. Surprise, surprise: I enjoyed it.
Chev Chelios wakes up to discover his nearly indestructible heart has been surgically removed and replaced with a battery-operated ticker that requires regular jolts of electricity in order to work. After a dangerous escape from his captors, Chev is on the run again, this time from the charismatic Mexican gang boss El Huron (Clifton Collins, Jr., Star Trek) and the Chinese Triads, headed by the dangerous 100 year-old Poon Dong (David Carradine, Kill Bill: Vol. 2). Once again turning to Doc Miles (Dwight Yoakam, Four Christmases) for medical advice, receiving help from his friend Kaylo’s twin brother Venus (Efren Ramirez, Napoleon Dynamite) and re-connecting with his girlfriend Eve (Amy Smart, TV’s “Scrubs”), who is no longer in the dark about what he does for a living, Chev is determined to get his real heart back and wreak vengeance on whoever stole it.
I take that back. I didn’t enjoy the film. I really enjoyed the film. I don’t know what it was about the first one, but I just really got into Crank 2. I think I just disliked the overall absurdity of the first film and even though I got over the complete absurdness of it all, I just never found myself all that engaged by it. It was lewd, dirty and excessively violent…which really sounds like the perfect makings of a movie to me, but alas…there was just something off about Crank. When commercials for the sequel started airing I actually grew sick of seeing them and completely wrote the film off right then and there. A deadly virus that he has to keep his adrenaline pumping I could buy…but a fake heart that requires electricity that he must inject into himself through jumper cables to his tongue? No. Nuh-uh. No way.
But…dammit, I don’t know. I knew how stupid this film was going to be from the get go, but I know exactly when I was sold on it. Statham’s character places a call to Yoakam’s character within the first ten or fifteen minutes of the movie and Yoakam goes on a quick, rapid pace explanation of the science behind what’s going on. For one thing I was surprised that they even attempted to explain it and two they actually did it in such a thoroughly confusing yet logical sounding way that I immediately believed that this could happen. Well, not really, but Chelios was always a bit of a superhuman in that first film (a fact that never really sunk in and, as a result, I think was one of the reasons I disliked it so) so I could understand the physical punishment he takes here.
So once I was sold on the concept? Everything else was cake. The re-appearance of random characters from the first film (especially one of the guys from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia showing up again to reprise his role in what is perhaps the funniest off-plot bit in the entire film) made the whole story seem a lot richer somehow and just the…well, general absurdity of it all. Of course they upstage the public sex that Statham and co-star Ryan engaged in from the first film by going near-porno at a horse track, but as much as it relied on the previous film for its jokes to work, I just found everything about this sequel to be amped up even higher and even more ridiculous.
One element of the film that I found particularly hilarious was just how much more like a Looney Tunes cartoon than anything. I mean the way the characters get tossed around and repeatedly come back is just ridiculous and the amount of violence is comparable to something Bugs would do to Fudd—only with real world consequences and a whole hell of a lot more blood (and male genitalia). The film manages to be ridiculous, stupid, absurd, idiotic and entertaining all at the same time. The gratuitous nudity, violence, sex, nudity and just general all-around everything you could cram into an R-rated movie (check out that rating block: “Frenetic Strong Bloody Violence Throughout, Crude and Graphic Sexual Content, Nudity and Pervasive Language”) made for a remarkably original film…even if the final product was ridiculous beyond belief.
While the film ends on a very strange note (well, not really; the flaming middle finger was the “ending” that kick started the end credits, but a montage of clips of Cherios being operated on and finally opening his eyes again is really the final epilogue to the film), it really just fit the frenetic pace that it set from the start. They did manage to pack in a bit more plot and downtime into this story, however, which may be another reason I appreciated it a bit more than the original film…although I’m honestly willing to give that first one another shot after enjoying this one so thoroughly. You’ll gain nothing from this film in any sense and it’s really just a guilty pleasure in of itself…but at the same time, when you have enough guilty pleasures like this, “absurdly violent action film” may as well be its own genre by now. Highly Recommended (as long as you like films like Shoot Em’ Up at least…and can handle a gratuitous amount of female nudity [as well as some male]).
Lionsgate brings Crank 2: High Voltage to Blu-ray in a two-disc Elite Blu case (second disc is pure digital copy). Packaging is eye catching and dairs a fair job at representing what this film is and the inside of the package mimics the cover art, as well as includes inserts for the digital copy code as well as one advertising the format itself. Menus are simple and easy to navigate.
As for the video transfer…let me just say that if you have the proper set up and are in an audience where the gratuity of this film won’t offend then you would have no problem using this as a demo disc. The AVC encoded transfer is ridiculously detailed with shots so detailed you could count every one of Statham’s individual stubbles (and that’s a lot of stubble). The action is well defined and just about every shot in this film looks brilliant. Only rarely do you see a few stray moments of aliasing crop up but aside from those brief moments you’re left with an absolutely gorgeous transfer and a key example of what makes Blu-ray such a damn fine format. Pile on all of the quirky little on-screen video tricks and unique filters/editing tricks and you’re left with one of the most visually satisfying transfers of the year.
Of course Lionsgate wouldn’t leave us hanging after giving us a brilliant video transfer. No, they packed on a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track (thank you!) that is positively destructive. The amount of carnage this movie rips through your speakers and subwoofer is astonishing and it’s because of this that the film is such a blasted treat to watch. Some films are just made better when they’re played loud with lots of bass and this is one of them. It is positively delightful the amount of bullets, dialogue and sound effects that get thrown around the room…not to mention the films rock-driven soundtrack that floods the room and pushes excessive amounts of air into the subwoofer.
• Audio commentary with writers/directors Neveldine/Taylor
• Crank’d Out Commentary with cast and crew – Bonus View ™ Picture-in-Picture Mode (BD Exclusive)
• “Making of” documentary (51:23, 1080i)
• “Crank 2: Take 2″ featurette (4:03, 1080p)
• Wrap Party Gag reel (3:26, 1080i)
• Bookmarks & Blu-line Time Slider
• Lionsgate Live™ * (requires profile 2.0 player)
• MoLog™ – the first BD live application that allows users to insert and animate shapes, text, audio, and other graphics right into the film to create “blogs” to share with other MoLog users! (requires profile 2.0 player)
• Theatrical trailer
Don’t be fooled by the roster on the back of the package—there aren’t two commentaries, just an audio only and a PiP version, although the PiP does have more bits like additional interviews and behind the scenes footage. Definitely a fun viewing if you’re a fan of the film, as it’s as every bit as technical and serious as it is funny and entertaining. The making-of featurette is also quite nice as it delves into the aspects of the production of the film in nice little bursts.
Overall the extras won’t blow you away but between the commentary and making-of bits, there is plenty to check out once you finish the film for the first time (or second…or third). Plus the A/V presentation here is just absolutely incredible, so you’re definitely going to get a new demo disc out of this film as well. Highly Recommended.
Crank 2: High Voltage is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.