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DIMENSION

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Larry Bishop
Cast:
Larry Bishop, Michael Madsen, Dennis Hopper, David Carradine, Eric Balfour, Vinnie Jones, Leonor Varela, Michael Beach, Laura Cayouette, Julia Jones
Writing Credits:
Larry Bishop

Tagline:
The rebellion against all there is!

Synopsis:
From Producer Quentin Tarantino and Writer/Director Larry Bishop comes this lean, mean mayhem machine - fully loaded with bikers, babes, and booze. Michael Madsen, Eric Balfour and legendary "Easy Rider" Dennis Hopper are part of a wild motorcycle gang bent on avenging the death of one of their own. With Vinnie Jones as the crazed arrow-wielding rival gang leader, Hell Ride is a savagely enjoyable good-time where the women are hot, the bikes are even hotter, and the action never stops!

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$100.164 thousand on 82 screens.
Domestic Gross
$194.287 thousand.

MPAA:
Rated R

DVD DETAILS
Presentation: Presentation:
Widescreen 2.35:1/16X9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English

Runtime: 83 min.
Price: $19.98
Release Date: 10/28/2008

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director/Producer/Actor Larry Bishop and Director of Photography Scott Kevan
• “The Making of Hell Ride” Featurette
• “The Babes of Hell Ride” Featurette
• “The Guys of Hell Ride” Featurette
• “The Choppers of Hell Ride” Featurette
• “Michael Madsen’s Video Diary”
• Red Band Trailer
• Previews


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EQUIPMENT
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RELATED REVIEWS


Hell Ride (2008)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 27, 2008)

When you see “Quentin Tarantino Presents” attached to a film, you expect a violent Seventies throwback that fits the “grindhouse” ethos. And that’s exactly what you get with 2008’s Hell Ride. In 1976, a babe named Cherokee Kisum (Julia Jones) gets brutally murdered.

As the film progresses, this event ties into modern times, as we see how it affects the Victors biker gang and their leader Pistolero (Larry Bishop). A rival gang called the Six-Six-Sixers starts to kill members of the Victors. Pistolero and the other Victors go after the Six-Six-Sixers for revenge, so the movie follows the violent clashes between the two sets of bikers.

No one goes to see something like Hell Ride in the expectation that they’ll find a deep, meaningful character portrait. However, they might anticipate something a little better constructed than this. My synopsis offers a rough approximation of the story, and it makes things sound more concise than it is. In truth, it’s often hard to figure out what the heck’s going on here. We can’t quite determine what happened in the past and who’s working with who in this messy, jumbled plot.

Not that any of that matters, because Hell Ride is so darned cheesy. Bishop also wrote and directed the film, and it’s patently clear he aspired to make a Tarantino-style effort. It features the kind of story, dialogue, music and visuals one would expect from Tarantino; heck, it even nods toward Pulp Fiction with the mystery of what’s in the box.

Bishop’s relentless attempt to emulate his producer makes the film’s shortcomings all the more evident. While Tarantino creates vivid characters and clever dialogue, everything in Hell Ride feels stupid and pointless. The lines are patently idiotic and don’t satisfy even for camp value. For instance, a female character relates “my pussy’s on fire!” and launches an extended exchange about that vaginal heat and what Pistolero can do about the flames. Maybe Tarantino could’ve made this sequence amusing and dynamic, but in Bishop’s hands, it’s sub-moronic.

Bishop shows little skill as director, writer or actor. Why did Tarantino back him? I guess he wanted to pad his reputation as the rehabilitator of has-been actors, though Bishop was more of a “never-was”. He’s the son of Rat Pack comic Joey Bishop and also worked with Rob Reiner in his early days, but otherwise his career failed to take him above the level of bit part actor.

Watching Hell Ride, you can tell why Bishop never succeeded: he displays little talent. Much of the time, the film strikes me as a vanity piece, mostly because it posits Pistolero as a super-biker. He’s the baddest ass on the block, and all the ladies line up for him. Yeesh – has anyone actually taken a look at the guy? He’s more schlub than stud.

As an actor, Bishop does little more than snarl and glare. He demonstrates no charisma or personality. A younger Clint Eastwood – or maybe even a current Kurt Russell – could pull off the role, but a no-talent like Bishop actively harms the film.

Or maybe not, since such a disjointed, misbegotten project probably would’ve flopped even with a more talented lead actor. No performer can overcome this ones combination of lousy script, muddled story and incoherent direction. Hell Ride does throw out some decent nudity – Julia Jones looks awfully good naked – but otherwise it’s a total loss.


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

Hell Ride 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 generally good, the transfer was a little more erratic than I’d like.

As was the case with the “Grindhouse” movies, it occasionally became somewhat tough to tell what flaws came from the transfer and which stemmed from the film’s visual style. This wasn’t intended to be a clean, totally modern-looking affair, so the flick showed more grain than usual.

Still, the movie was a little iffier than normal. Sharpness was usually fine, as the majority of the film seemed accurate and concise. I noticed a bit of softness in wider shots, and some mild edge enhancement also created a tentative feel at times. Nonetheless, most of the flick appeared accurate enough. No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects popped up, and source flaws remained absent; other than the moderate grain, this was a clean presentation.

Hell Ride went with a stylized palette that favored the hot side. Actually, some parts of the flick reflected its desert setting and seemed somewhat desaturated, but this was a heavy desaturation, if that makes any sense. The sandy tones were more intense than usual, and reds followed suit. I thought the hues were a bit too strong, but they fit within the film’s design. Blacks were dark and dense, while shadows seemed decent; some appeared a little thick, but they remained acceptable. As did the image overall; it never excelled, but it satisfied.

I thought the Dolby Digital 5.1 had filled out the movie in an acceptable manner. In truth, it probably should’ve been a bit more active given the subject matter. With so many bikes and fights, I thought things would be more dynamic, but matters remained a bit restrained. Oh, we got a good sense of ambience, and occasional segments opened things up reasonably well. Nonetheless, the soundstage never became terribly involving.

Audio quality was fine. Some speech wasn’t very well-recorded, and a bit of edginess interfered with louder lines. Still, most of the dialogue was acceptably natural and concise, and I found no problems with intelligibility. Music showed good dimensionality; a few songs appeared scratchy, but that came from the Tarantino feel the movie wanted. Effects were accurate and full, as the track showed good low-end. Nothing here really impressed me, but the audio was positive enough for a “B-“.

With that we head to the disc’s extras. We open with an audio commentary from writer/director/producer/actor Larry Bishop and director of photography Scott Kevan. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific piece. We learn about the project’s origins and development, script and story, cast, characters and performances, sets and locations, working with Quentin Tarantino, influences, visual design and camerawork, costumes, bikes, and pretty much everything else you’d want to know.

I might not care for Hell Ride, but the movie boasts a darned good commentary. Bishop dominates this chatty piece; Kevan gets in a remark here or there, but this is Bishop’s baby and he doesn’t leave much room for his cinematographer. That’s not a problem since Bishop covers the movie so well. Though he occasionally wears his pretensions on his sleeve, he also mocks himself at times, so he balances the two sides. This becomes a consistently engaging and informative piece.

Five featurettes follow. The Making of Hell Ride goes for eight minutes, 50 seconds, as it presents shots from the set, movie snippets, and comments from Bishop, associate producer/actor Laura Cayouette, and actors Michael Madsen, and Leonor Varela. The program follows the film’s roots and development, Bishop’s multiple roles on the shoot, the flick’s depiction of sex, editing, and Tarantino’s input.

“Making” benefits a little from the participation of other folks, but Bishop continues to dominate. That means most of the notes already appear in the commentary, though Varela contributes some intriguing character concepts. Nonetheless, there’s not a lot of substance here, and the program ends so abruptly that it feels oddly truncated.

The next two programs look at the cast. We get The Babes of Hell Ride (5:19) and The Guys of Hell Ride (14:18). Across these, we hear from Bishop, Cayouette, Varela, Madsen, and actors Julia Jones, Eric Balfour, David Carradine, and Dennis Hopper. As expected, these two shows look at cast, characters and performances. Once again, Bishop takes the reins. Some of the other performers throw out decent info, but we continue to find a fair amount of material already covered in the commentary. That makes the featurettes decent but not great, though I do like Bishop’s remarks about how Dean Martin inspired the Gent.

The Choppers of Hell Ride goes for nine minutes, 34 seconds and features Madsen, Bishop, Hopper, Balfour and motorcycle consultant Justin Kell. It should come as no surprise that this piece looks at the movie’s bikes. We get some good specifics in this short but tight show.

Next we find the nine-minute and three-second Michael Madsen’s Video Diary. This gives us a look at events on the set. Madsen doesn’t shoot the footage, but he shows up in mosy of it and offers his perspective. Some reasonably interesting moments emerge here.

The DVD opens with a few ads. We get promos for Death Proof, Planet Terror and Diary of the Dead. The disc also includes the red band trailer for Hell Ride.

Has anyone ever made a Tarantino-wannabe flick that didn’t bite? Maybe, but Hell Ride isn’t that flick. Even with Quentin himself in the producer’s chair, this one stinks on a consistent, relentless basis. The DVD provides decent picture and audio along with some good extras highlighted by a terrific audio commentary. I think this is a perfectly acceptable package, but I don’t care for the movie at all.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.7142 Stars Number of Votes: 14
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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