It doesn't really seem to matter who stars in the direct-to-DVD action
films made in Eastern Europe. It might be Wesley Snipes or Steven Seagal, or
it might be Dolph Lundgren, as it is here. The result always seems to be the
same: a generic script about one tough guy battling gangs of mobsters and/or
warlords, peppered with thousands of explosions, gunfights and car chases.
I'll say this for Eastern Europe. They must have a lot of abandoned
buildings that can be destroyed inexpensively, without anybody caring. No
matter what criticisms you might level at this movie, you have to concede that
there are some very impressive explosions, and the things being exploded look
impressive before they are blown up - large buildings, tanks, you name it.
Even Michael Bay would have to be impressed with the level of destruction they
can create on a moderate budget. The
Bulgarians also seem to have figured out a way to film car chases that seem to
go recklessly through active city streets, running over pedestrians, knocking
over vegetable carts, disrupting sidewalk restaurants, overturning magazine
kiosks, and so forth, often with cars spinning and overturning in mid-air (in
slo-mo, natch) before they crash with the inevitable explosion. I don't think the
filmmakers can really be destroying downtown
Sofia, which is where most of this film was lensed, so I guess there must be
derelict neighborhoods that have been converted to the Bulgarian equivalent of back
lots. The action scenes are genuinely impressive.
I also enjoyed seeing some of the
landmarks of Sofia. Several scenes were shot in the vicinity of the
Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. There's really nothing else to recommend. The
dialogue is embarrassing, especially in the love scene. The plot is confusing
and riddled with holes. The character motivations and behaviors defy all
logic. There are annoying continuity errors. Instead of the day-night errors
common to cheapjack American films, there are fall-winter-spring errors. Car
chases go from one block full of snow, to another with no snow and bare trees,
to another with everything in bloom. It's just plain irritating and confusing.
But, as they used to say on Farm Film Report, "Things get blowed up
No nudity from the stars. There
are some topless dancers in a night club.
Van Wilder: Freshman Year
You are probably aware that the "American Pie" name has been appropriated
as a brand name for a string of raunchy youth comedies which go straight to
DVD. That's the same situation which applies to VWFY. In fact, one of the
stars of the Animal House sequels, Steve Talley, is also a star of this Van
Wilder prequel. Within the very loose framework of the original Van Wilder
character, but with a different actor in that role, the authors tell a more or
less by-the-numbers "slobs vs snobs" tale which is vaguely reminiscent of
Animal House, except without any of that pesky humor to slow it down.
Although he would prefer to join his father's business immediately, rich
boy Vance Wilder V resigns himself to his father's decision to send him to
Coolidge University, in line with four previous generations of Van Wilders.
Coolidge was Playboy's top party school one year in the 70s, so Van reasons
that it should at least be fun. Wrong. Much to Van's dismay, the school has
been converted to a conservative institution which centers on Christianity and
ROTC. The charismatic Van recruits some slobs as his disciples and sets out to
beat the snobs.
On the "American Pie sequel chart," I'd place it above the deplorable band
camp, but beneath The Naked Mile, which had copious nudity and a cutely
original love story, and Beta House, which was just raunchy mindless fun.
There's nothing incompetent about this movie. It's slick enough, but it has no
new ideas at all. It's just a recycling of dozens of other movies you're
already scene, with the generic material cobbled into a story which is an
approximate match for the Van Wilder character. Let me give you fair warning:
there is no writing credit.
On the other hand, there is topless nudity from
Meredith Giangrande and
Pretty Cool Two
PC2 is another generic youth comedy, in the tradition of the late 1970s and
early 1980s. This particular one is not from the sub-genre of 1978's Animal
House, but is a half-step down from there, the kind of 80s film that might
have starred Willie Aames and Chachi back in the day. You get an A for class
participation if you put up your hand to guess that this one follows in the
distinguished tradition of 1982's Zapped. (This film's predecessor, Pretty
Cool, which came from the same creative team, was also a Zapped clone.)
The elements that come together to form the high concept are as
- a nerd to be our protagonist
- his female best friend, a brainy geek who has invented a mind-control
- a very high-tech new cell phone
- a lightning bolt
Lightning fuses the mind-control technology to the cell phone, so that the
nerd can get anyone to do whatever he pleases if he can call them or get near
them. Needless to say, he uses his new power to bring peace to the Middle
Nah, I'm just fuckin' witcha. He embarrasses people he doesn't like, and
gets as many women naked as possible. Our kind of guy. Fortunately for him,
the house next door is being used for a reality show like The Girls Next Door,
and he ...
Well, I don't really need to get into the details, do I? If you can't
figure it out from there you fail Genre Clichés 101. And I think you can
probably scan the information above and figure out which girl he finally ends
up with by the end of the film. It's standard lowbrow fare, with plenty of
fart and orgasm jokes, but it is at least partially redeemed by two elements:
(2) Some bizarre minor characters and surreal scenes that leave a few fresh
footprints on this well trod ground. I did really enjoy the character of our
hero's dad, who keeps telling "back in my day" stories that are painfully
obvious to everyone but him.
There is plenty of nudity, but far less than one might have expected from
the premise. No full frontals at all. Breasts from four women, only one of
whom has factory originals.
- Of the five Petmates next door, only one
(Jennifer Day) shows any
flesh, and even that one limits the exposure to her breasts.
- The girlfriend (Angela
Dodson) of our hero's bullying brother shows T&A
- The nerdy girl (Julia
Lehman) finally takes off her classes and shows a cute natural chest.
- An unknown shows her
breasts as the film begins.