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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Craig Moss
Cast:
Danny Trejo, Charles S. Dutton, Ron Perlman, Joyful Drake, Patrick Fabian, John Duffy, Winter Ave Zoli
Writing Credits:
Craig Moss, Elliot Tishman

Tagline:
They messed with the wrong senior citizen.

Synopsis:
Danny Trejo packs a punch in this bare-fisted, bone-crunching action thriller inspired by true events. Shunned by society for nearly forty years, Vietnam War veteran Frank Vega (Trejo) becomes an instant celebrity when he thwarts a hate crime on a city bus and footage of the incident goes viral on the Internet. But when his best friend is murdered-and the police seem unwilling to help-Vega takes his new Bad Ass nickname to the extreme against corrupt cops and a crooked mayor (Perlman) in pursuit of old-school justice!

MPAA:
Rated R

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 89 min.
Price: $29.99
Release Date: 6/5/2012

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Craig Moss
• “Birth of a Bad Ass” Featurette
• Sneak Peeks


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EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

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Bad Ass [Blu-Ray] (2012)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 22, 2012)

Back in 2010, Danny Trejo starred as the title character in Machete, a movie that may or may not have boasted his first-ever lead role. Since Trejo has appeared in more than 200 films, I’m not about to attempt to sort through all of his credits to determine if he’d played a non-supporting part previously, but even if Machete wasn’t unique, it was certainly rare for the life-long character actor.

With 2012’s Bad Ass, Trejo gets another shot at a lead. Frank Vega (Trejo) enjoys a good childhood and young adult experience until he fights in Vietnam. Despite gunshot wounds and a stint in a POW camp, young Frank (Shalim Ortiz) comes through okay – until he finds that the love of his life Lindsay (Jillian Murray) went ahead and got married while he was gone. Frank can’t get any other breaks, either, so he ends up alone and the proprietor of a low-rent hot dog stand.

Frank’s life takes a major turn one day as he rides a bus. Two young punks (John Dixon and Kevin Patrick Burke) threaten an elderly passenger (Larry Richardson) so Frank steps in to stop them. This turns their attention from the old man to Frank – who promptly beats the crap out of the skinheads.

None of this would’ve really mattered except a passenger captured the incident with a cell phone and posted it online under the heading “Bad Ass Video”. Frank turns into a cult hero and enjoys his moment in the spotlight.

A few months later, Frank’s mother passes and he inherits her house. When he moves in, he invites his old buddy Klondike (Harrison Page) to live with him. Unfortunately, this situation doesn’t last long, as Klondike gets killed by a couple of thugs with whom he’d had secret dealings. The cops seem disinterested in the investigation of the murder, to Frank takes his “Bad Ass” persona to heart as he attempts to find his buddy’s killers – and dig deep into corruption at city hall.

On one hand, I think it’s cool to see someone of Trejo’s age and unusual appearance get a shot at lead roles. On the other hand, after viewings of Machete and Bad Ass, I’ve begun to suspect that it’s not just Trejo’s looks that kept him in supporting parts: it’s his acting talent, or lack thereof.

While I don’t think Trejo is a bad performer, he simply lacks the qualities necessary to carry a movie. He handles the film’s action scenes well – we believe him as a butt-kicker despite his advancing age – but he doesn’t do as well in the dramatic scenes. He seems unsure of himself and doesn’t come across as realistic when asked to do anything other than fight and act tough.

It doesn’t help that Bad Ass can’t decide whether it’s a Death Wish-style action flick, a spoof of vigilante films, or some sort of civil rights drama. The film dabbles in a variety of tones/themes but doesn’t develop any of them in a satisfying manner.

I suspect most of the blame goes to writer/director Craig Moss, who seems unsure of himself from start to finish. A look at his résumé shows that Moss comes from the world of parodies, with flicks like The 41-Year-Old Virgin… under his belt. Moss wasn’t good at those comedies, and he’s no better at action dramas.

If we use Bad Ass as evidence, Moss can’t write a smooth script to save his life. The film comes with some of the clunkiest characters and exposition I’ve seen, as it follows a plodding “A-B-C” trend from start to finish. None of this feels logical or realistic; it’s contrived storytelling without a shred of plausibility.

Maybe Moss really did intend Bad Ass as a spoof of this sort of film, and his background adds to those suspicions. However, if this is the case, he doesn’t do enough to make his intentions clear. Bad Ass feels like a crummy action movie, but a spoof of them.


The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio C+/ Bonus C+

Bad Ass appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. Though not stellar, the image usually satisfied.

Only a smidgen of softness occurred, as a few wide shots displayed a little lack of definition. Those were minor, though, and the majority of the flick offered nice clarity and accuracy. I saw no issues with jaggies or shimmering, and edge enhancement failed to appear. The movie also suffered from no discernible print flaws.

In terms of palette, the movie opted for a fairly golden tone. Some scenes went with a bluish tint, but most of the film used fairly warm tones. These looked fine throughout the movie; they weren’t stellar, but they were more than acceptable. Blacks were deep and dense, but shadows could be a little murky. In the end, the image was worth a “B”.

I also felt fairly pleased with the involving DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, though it didn’t have a lot to do. Most of the mix stayed focused on the forward channels, so don’t expect a lot of action here. The front speakers delivered good stereo music and decent ambience, though the track never really blossomed into much. The action scenes used the side and rear speakers in a moderate way but didn’t allow them much involvement.

Audio quality was also positive. Music sounded lively and full, and effects followed suit; those elements came across as accurate and dynamic. Speech was concise and clear. I thought the soundtrack was adequate for the story,

Only a few extras show up here. The main attraction comes from an Audio Commentary with writer/director Craig Moss. Someone named “Todd” also chimes in occasionally, but it’s not clear who this person is; the movie features music from composer Todd Haberman, but I don’t think he’s the one on the commentary.

In any case, Moss – and occasionally “Mystery Todd” - provide a running, screen-specific look at the opening credits, music, sets and locations, cast and performances, story/character topics, and the film's real-life inspirations. This is a perfectly decent but unexceptional commentary. We get a reasonably good look at a nice variety of subjects, but the track tends to drag at times, so it comes with more slow spots than I’d like. It’s a pretty average discussion.

We also find a featurette called Birth of a Bad Ass. It runs six minutes, nine seconds and offers info from Moss and actor Danny Trejo. They discuss the “Epic Beard Man” video that inspired the film as well as story/character areas, cast and performances. This is mostly standard promotional stuff, though it offers a little more depth than most programs of this kind.

The disc opens with ads for Get the Gringo, Thin Ice, Act of Valor and Homeland Season One. No trailer for Bad Ass appears here.

Don’t expect much from Bad Ass. While it wants to give us an involving action thriller, instead it feels more like a parody of the genre. The Blu-ray offers reasonably good picture, adequate audio and a decent commentary. Trite and stale, Bad Ass flops.

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