Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Condemned DVD

DVD Review by Kam Williams

Headline: DVD Action Drama Stars Stone Cold Steve Austin in Survival-of-the-Fittest Saga

TV producer Ian Breckel (Robert Mammone) has come up with a novel idea for a reality show. Take ten Death Row inmates from prisons scattered around the Third World and drop them onto a deserted island outfitted with hundreds of hidden cameras for a fight to the death. Broadcast the grisly goings-on live over the internet, charging pay-per-viewers $50 apiece to tune in. And as an added incentive to insure enthusiastic participants, attach a time bomb set to detonate in 30 hours to everyone’s leg, and promise the victor his freedom and a bundle of cash to start a new life.
This is the intriguing point of departure of The Condemned, a high attrition-rate flick featuring former WWE Wrestling Champ Stone Cold Steve Austin. Fortunately, the film is visually riveting and wastes little time in plunging you right into the action.
The cast is comprised of a colorful menagerie of murderers. There’s a Nazi (Andy McPhee), a Russian strongman (Nathan Jones), a Japanese martial arts master (Masa Yamaguchi), a husband-wife team of serial killers (Manu Bennett and Dasi Ruiz) from Guatemala, an African girl gone wild (Emilia Burns), a ghetto gangsta’ (Marcus Johnson) gone gaga over the sister, yada yada, you get the idea.
But any idiot can figure out from the beginning that this no-holds-barred smackdown is inexorably leading to a big showdown between the noble Jack Conrad (Austin) and the dastardly Ewan McSorley (Vinnie Jones), ala your typical WWE spectacular. Despite the transparent plotline, the dumb dialogue, the cheesy special f/x, the cornball comic relief and the self-righteous sermonizing, this campy B-movie adds up to a slumming cinematic experience so godawful, it’s great, in a reverse chic sort of way.
What’s good for a tongue-in-cheek homage like Grindhouse, is even better for a shameless embarrassment like The Condemned.
Excellent (4 stars)
Rated R for profanity and pervasive graphic violence.
Running time: 113 minutes
Studio: Lions Gate Home Entertainment
DVD Extras: Audio commentary with Steve Austin and the director, another director’s commentary, exclusive footage of Stone Cold at Movie World, Capital Carnage reunion, a look at Steve Austin and Vinnie Jones’ first meeting in 1998, storyboard sequences, "the Making of" featurette, and a theatrical trailer.

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