" Just watch TV instead of renting this festering turd. "
Title: Motorcycle Gang by Dimension Home Video
Format: Action/Suspense DVD
Reviewing Monkey: Genghis Kong
The Hype: From the award-winning director of Red Dawn, Farewell to the King, and Flight of the Intruder comes this "seductive thriller" about a family terrorized by a vicious motorcycle gang in the 1950's. While such gangs make Genghis Kong nostalgic for his days of pillage and plunder leading the Mongrel Horde on turtleback raids, the Conqueror Ape did not allow himself to succumb to these daydreams of banditry, and kept a keen eye on these latter-day Vandals and their poodle-skirt prey.
What This Monkey Thought...
Story and Acting: Carla Gugino (the Son-In-Law, Spy Kids) stars as a naïve teenager who moves cross-country with her parents (Major Dad's Gerald McRaney and director John Milius' wife and favorite actress Elan Oberon) to find a better life in 1950 California. They have a brief run-in with villainous bike gang leader Jake (Jake Busey of Starship Troopers and the Frighteners, who looks eerily like his equally-spooky father Gary) and his three cohorts, who then become obsessed with the pristine Gugino and kidnap her. The biker gang flees to Mexico while Busey ridiculously cons Gugino into thinking of him as her protector, which is essentially ruined ten minutes later when he attempts to violently rape her. McRaney, portraying a quietly conservative Korean War veteran father, makes some hasty Rambo-esque preparations and storms the motorcycle gang's shack, killing them and rescuing his daughter. Meanwhile, Genghis Kong is left wondering what the point of the film was, unless maybe it's "don't be a heroin-peddling 1950's biker, or Major Dad is going to stomp a mudhole in your punk ass." The story is obviously ludicrous and lackluster, and the acting is wooden and two-dimensional in general. McRaney gives a believable performance as the steel-spined father, playing the character's weaknesses and strengths in a plausible fashion, and even manages to carry off the fight scene at the film's climax with equal parts deftness and clumsiness to show a middle-aged former soldier who is reluctant to kill again and hasn't fought in years. Busey's character is unfortunately caught between two roles in the film, as if the screenwriters couldn't decide if they wanted him to be an anarchistic tough with a beatnik education and no morals or a soulless villain with only street smarts at his disposal. Rather than combining the two into a believable character, Busey is forced to play both archetypes at alternating moments, leading to a completely ridiculous character with no discernable motives or strong character traits. His acting is decent, but difficult to judge based on the poor quality of the script. Gugino doesn't even have that leg to stand on, delivering a terrible performance from the outset and showing just how slim her range truly is. Whether it's the unintentionally comical voice-over at the opening and closing (where she talks about how hardened she's become, and how she lives her life "in the red"), the utterly bland performance she gives in the interim, or the absolute lack of acting and emotion she shows during any scene where she is brutally victimized, Gugino maintains a level of sub-par work that essentially sets the tone for this obviously made-for-TV film. Elan Oberon is completely forgettable as the stereotypical slutty and helpless mother, illustrating quite clearly why no one has ever heard of her. I suppose it helps some to be the director's wife, but being in a film doesn't exactly make you a star--you need talent for that to happen. Character actor Richard Edson seems to stand out as tough gang second Volker, but his lack of screen time means that "stand out" is limited to two short scenes. The film is billed as a "risky race down the highway to hell," but I've had more terrifying bowel movements. If this movie is meant to be terrifying, I'm a lot scarier than I give myself credit for--perhaps I should convince John Milius to direct my autobiography, "Genghis Kong's La-Z-Boy Rampage." With a rather boring story and unimpressive B-list talent, Motorcycle Gang fails to impress in this category. 1.5 of 5.
Visuals and Directing: John Milius is best known for writing the line "Go ahead, make my day" for Dirty Harry, and has also directed films such as Conan the Barbarian, Red Dawn, and Farewell to the King. These movies and Motorcycle Gang all have the same 80's B-movie sensibility about them as far as filmmaking style goes, but where the former three were actually filmed in the 1980's, Motorcycle Gang was made in the 90's. This film practically reeks of shitty Eighties filmmaking, from the cinematography to the annoying and repetitive theme music to the very choice of talentless "talent" involved in its creation. The budget on the film must not have been very high, considering the filming errors this monkey spotted--1990's cars in background shots, non-period architecture and fixtures, and motorcycles from the 1960's. This is Genghis Kong's note to directors: if you don't have the budget to make a period piece authentic, don't make a period piece! The film needed to be set in the 1950's about as much as Bill Gates needs you to loan him a ten-spot. The quality of stunts and special effects is very low, with blood that looks like cranberry juice and clumsy cutaway shots during most of the action sequences. There were no explosions (contrary to the cover of the DVD), no dangerous motorcycle stunts, and no "steamy action" unless you count the two clumsy, repulsive rape sequences (which are not at all graphic, for those of you sensitive to such sequences). Milius seems to have regressed in talent since his Conan days, which is a damn shame, because Genghis Kong likes a good barbarian sword flick. 1.5 of 5.
DVD Extras: The DVD really doesn't have any extras, and after viewing it you really don't want any. There's the basic Scene Selection, subtitle options (English only), and a "Sneak Peaks" section. For those of you who don't know, the "Sneak Peaks" section is less a Special Feature and more an annoyance, as it is the distributor's attempt to get you to watch trailers for other craptacular films in the hopes you'll buy or rent them, too. Previews on the DVD include Wes Craven's Dracula II, Below, and Asunder (previously reviewed on this site by yours truly). The cons of the DVD lacking features are obviously that buying it gets you only this terrible, boring film to watch. The pros, however, are that you will never feel obligated to watch any Deleted Scenes or Director Commentary--in fact, there will be no reason to ever watch Motorcycle Gang again. If you can't somehow pawn it off on a used DVD retailer afterward, it makes a handy coaster or skeet, and that is a special feature if I ever saw one. 0 out of 5.
|Anyone looking at the cover of Motorcycle Gang can tell that it is a low-quality B-movie. First off, the faces of Carla Gugino and Jake Busey are obviously (and very poorly) digitally cut into the cover, seemingly placed at incorrect angles and sized improperly to the frame of their bodies. In classic B-movie style it attempts to lead the viewer into thinking there are explosions, sexual chemistry, and about a dozen members of this fearsome "motorcycle gang." In truth, there are no explosions, there is very little sexual chemistry, and the biker gang numbers a pathetic four--it's more of a Motorcycle Club than anything else. Do yourself a favor, my monkeys, and just watch TV instead of renting this festering turd.|
The Good: Umm… Gerald McRaney doesn't totally suck in this?
The Bad: Everyone else does, including the director.
The Overall Ugly: Carla Gugino's acting is so bad it makes me want to take back every mean thing I ever said about Drew Barrymore.
What it's Worth: If you really want to see this movie, you've got a good chance of getting your money back at the video store if you ask meanly enough. Other than that, I wouldn't spend a dime on it.