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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Rick Jacobson
Cast:
Julia Voth, Erin Cummings, America Olivo, Michael Hurst, Kevin Sorbo, Lucy Lawless
Writing Credits:
Rick Jacobson, Eric Gruendemann

Tagline:
Assume the position ...

Synopsis:
A modern throwback to the "B" movie exploitation films of the 50's-70's, mixing beautiful women, fast cars, big guns, nasty tongues, outrageous action, and jaw-dropping eye candy. The movie follows three bad girls, a down-and-out stripper, a drug running killer, and a corporate power broker as they arrive at a remote desert hideaway to extort massive booty from an underworld kingpin.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$12.254 thousand on 3 screens.
Domestic Gross
$17.365 thousand.

MPAA:
Rated NR

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 2.35:1
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 109 min.
Price: $22.98
Release Date: 3/2/2010

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Writer/Producer Rick Jacobson, Writer/Producer Eric Gruendemann and Associate Producer Brian Peck
• Audio Commentary with Actors Julia Voth, Erin Cummings and America Olivo
• “Building a Better B-Movie” Documentary


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

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.

RELATED REVIEWS


Bitch Slap: Unrated (2009)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 17, 2010)

In the same vein as the Tarantino/Rodriguez effort Grindhouse, 2009’s Bitch Slap hearkens back to wild “exploitation” flicks of the 1970s. Three women head to the desert in search of hidden jewels. The gang includes businesswoman mastermind Hel (Erin Cummings), psychotic drug addict Camero (America Olivo) and nice girl stripper Trixie (Julia Voth).

They lug a scumbucket named Gage (Michael Hurst) with them, as he knows where to find the loot. However, he worries about repercussions from a big gangster named Pinky more than about the ladies, so he resists their torture. When the women off Gage, they become concerned that Pinky will come after them as well. The film tells its tale in the desert with liberal flashbacks to show what led the women there.

Although the press materials for Slap tout it as a 70s throwback, it’s not – at least not in a pure sense. It’s a 70s throwback as interpreted through 21st century eyes, which means you’ll see a lot of modern influences on display.

The main one? The aforementioned Tarantino. Slap often displays a serious QT Wannabe feel. Much of this comes from the neo-exploitation tone, but it also stems from the film’s disjointed chronology. Like Reservoir Dogs, Slap jumps from present day to the past with alacrity, and the whole thing smacks of a Death Proof vibe, at least in terms of its lead babes.

Other obvious influences manifest themselves. Ala Sin City, the film boasts liberal use of greenscreen sets and super-stylized visuals. “Pinky” is a reworking of Kaiser Soze, and the movie even incorporates sequences straight out of 80s hair metal music videos as well.

I don’t mind the manner in which Slap wears its abundant influences on its sleeve. Yeah, it could seem more creative, but I don’t strongly object to its derivative nature, as it’s supposed to allude to other genre efforts.

However, I find Slap to disappoint simply because it doesn’t do anything productive with all its influences. The story couldn’t possibly be less interesting. Granted, the hidden treasure exists as a MacGuffin, but it doesn’t motivate much that actually entertains. The flick provides little more than an awkward amalgamation of violent sequences and tawdry shots, none of which fit together in a smooth manner.

The storytelling fails to work. The movie shifts from the present to the flashbacks without and clarity, and the scenarios are never particularly interesting. That’s the main problem: the plot, the situations and the characters simply aren’t terribly stimulating. We find very little – if anything – that qualifies as creative, exciting or clever.

Slap can’t even muster much sex appeal. None of the film’s actresses display much cinematic talent, but they’re all very attractive, so I figured the flick would at least boast some hot sequences. Nope. Not even a long lesbian encounter manages to stand out as enjoyable, and what kind of B-movie of this sort casts three babes and never has any of them get naked?

A bad one, I think. How can an action flick about three super-hot felons be so… boring? I’m not quite sure, but Bitch Slap fails to exploit its subject matter in an even minor way. The movie lacks inspiration and tends to create more yawns than anything else.


The DVD Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus B+

Bitch Slap appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Though not flawless, Slap offered a strong SD-DVD viewing experience.

Sharpness was quite good. Wide shots could be somewhat iffy, but most of the movie displayed positive delineation. The majority of the flick delivered nice clarity and definition. I noticed no issues with jagged edges or shimmering, and edge haloes failed to cause distractions. Source flaws also remained absent.

In terms of colors, Slap offered a varied palette. The desert sequences showed fairly natural, sandy tones, while flashbacks were more stylized. Whatever the design choices, the movie offered nice color reproduction; the tones always came across as intended. Blacks were dark and deep, while shadows seemed clear and smooth. Only the mild softness kept this one from “A”-level consideration, as I felt quite impressed by the transfer.

(By the way, if I believed in conspiracy theories, I’d note that the best-looking SD-DVD transfers I see these days are almost always for movies not available on Blu-ray. Coincidence?)

As for the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Slap, it provided an active affair – probably too active, to be honest. The movie used all five speakers in an aggressive manner that didn’t always suit the material especially well. This seemed particularly true when it came to audio. The score emanated from the back speakers almost as loudly as in the front, and that was a bit of a distraction; the present of music from all the channels meant that the score lacked great localization and clarity.

Effects worked better. Those were also pretty active, though the music could drown them out at times. Still the various elements popped up in appropriate channels and added some kick to the film’s many action sequences. The elements didn’t combine in a tremendously smooth manner, but they gave the movie a little zest.

Audio quality was fine. Speech suffered from some awkward looping but the lines were always intelligible and reasonably natural. Music appeared fairly full and rich, while effects demonstrated nice punch. I thought the track was a little too erratic for high marks, but it seemed worthy of a “B”.

When we head to the set’s extras, we find two audio commentaries. The first comes from writer/producer/director Rick Jacobson, writer/producer Eric Gruendemann and associate producer Brian Peck. All three sit together for this running, screen-specific discussion of cast, characters and performances, sets and locations, camerawork and effects, stunts and action, edits/deleted scenes, story issues and influences.

Early on, Jacobson refers to actor Erin Cummings as a “whore” and a “total slut”. He does this in jest, of course, but his remarks still are quite unusual in the world of audio commentaries. Banal praise is the rule, not comedic slander.

Those comments set up the track as a more outrageous one than it becomes, unfortunately. Oh, we hear more profanity and joking around than usual, but we still find much of the standard praise. Still, we get a pretty good look at the production, as the participants dig into a mix of topics with reasonable gusto. The track doesn’t enthrall, but it offers decent information.

For the second chat, we hear from actors Julia Voth, Erin Cummings and America Olivo. Those three also chat together for their own running, screen-specific look at their characters and performances, stunts and action, various sets and locations, and other members of the cast and crew.

Like its predecessor, this commentary proves to be reasonably engaging, but it’s not particularly heavy on great facts. As I would expect, it takes on a more limited scope than the first track, so it comes mostly with basic thoughts about experiences during the shoot. The women are lively and fun, so they help carry the chat, but it fails to become particularly informative.

Building a Better B-Movie runs one hour, 39 minutes and 24 seconds. It features info from Jacobson, Gruendemann, Voth, Cummings, Olivo, Peck, stunt coordinator Zoë Bell, best boy grip Erin Weller, and actors Michael Hurst, William Gregory Lee, Ron Melendez, Minae Noji, Dennis Keiffer, Scott Hanley, Renee O’Connor, Lucy Lawless, and Kevin Sorbo. The program looks at the project’s roots and development, story/script topics, casting, characters and performances, training, stunts and action, production design and props, some location issues, and a few other production notes.

At nearly 100 minutes, “Building” certainly provides an epic “making of” documentary. Does that automatically make it a great one? No, but it does work pretty well. It’s never a particularly deep or insightful piece, but it covers the set nicely and keeps us interested across its long running time. This ends up as a satisfying show.

While Quentin Tarantino and a few others create effective 70s throwback flicks, the folks behind Bitch Slap can’t pull off their not-so-lofty goals. Despite lots of action and many sexy women, the movie turns into a surprisingly dull affair; it throws a great deal of tawdry material at us but none of it actually entertains. The DVD provides very good picture, erratic but usually positive audio, and some interesting supplements. If you want to see a exciting, sexy action flick, look elsewhere, for Slap isn’t a winning entry.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.6666 Stars Number of Votes: 3
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main