We are truly blessed by the availability of such a wide selection of affordable bootleg DVDs from around the world. With so many to choose from, though, it’s easy to get a little carried away and more often than is probably wise, we find ourselves selecting titles that are ill-advised at the offset. But hey, it’s only 7 RMB*, why not? For variety’s sake and to satisfy those dark cravings, we often prefer picking up some schlock to throw in the collection just to mix up as well, because a bad movie can often make for a more enjoyable viewing experience (See: Commando) than a mediocre movie trying to be good (See: The Kingdom).
This posting is not about great bad movies, however, this is about the irredeemably bad movies. The films that make you feel violated for watching. The films that are so bad you want to take a cold shower and get a massage afterwards. The films that make you want that 7 RMB* back, immediately and unconditionally. Think of this as a public service, a warning to all the DVD junkies out there. We’re usually the first to defend artistic license, but in this case if we can stop just one person from watching one of these movies we’ll have made the world a slightly better place. Feel free to add your own suggestions, but remember: this is not just for movies you don’t personally like, but for movies (that can be purchased in Shanghai) that you think would be impossible for anyone (even your arch-nemesis) to like.
So here’s our list of the four worst stinkers we’ve come across:
IN THE NAME OF THE KING: A DUNGEON SIEGE TALE When we saw that they got together an assortment of washed up actors (Ray Liotta, Burt Reynolds, Matthew Lillard, etc.) and threw in the Transporter (Jason Statham) himself, we were on board. Recipe for a camp masterpiece, right? For the first fifteen minutes we thought this was a parody of your standard fantasy epic (with that title, how could it not be?), but we quickly came to realize that no, this film was dead serious and god awful. Many had warned us about director Uwe Boll, but until you see this film you can’t truly understand the depths to which he is capable of taking a movie. One critic described this film as being “like a Florida dinner theater production of Lord of the Rings” and when the reviews are better than the movie, you’ve got problems.
MASKED AND ANONYMOUS Jack Fate (Bob Dylan) comes back from obscurity to perform in a benefit concert and save a dystopian America from itself. The cast list is literally a mile long; it turns out that most of the folks in Hollywood will jump at the opportunity to be in a movie with Bob Dylan, regardless of the content. With John Goodman and Jeff Bridges, we were kind of expecting Don’t Look Back meets The Big Lebowski, but this movie failed to be little more than a series of characters repeatedly telling you ‘how it is’ in the form of extended harangue. Uncomfortable, painfully pedantic, and completely unwatchable.
More crappy movies after the jump!
THE SOONG SISTERS One sister loves power (Vivian Wu), one sister loves money (Michelle Yeow), and one sister loves her country (Maggie Cheung)… and they’ve each been assigned a color by the costume department. This movie was like Ran for the mentally-challenged. We like our city’s history as much as anyone and were excited to watch a movie about Shanghai’s single most influential family of the 20th century, but this movie just couldn’t execute on any level. It was laboriously paced, lacked any depth, and had a screenplay that read like a third-grade history report. We remember one scene in particular that went something like this: “Who is that?” “Oh, that is Chiang Kai-Shek, a soldier and the protege of Sun Yat-sen. Like you, he was educated abroad and currently he directs the Whampao Military Academy.” F-
SOUTHLAND TALES A few years back Dwayne ‘the Rock’ Johnson and Sean William Scott defied all odds and made a legitimately hilarious movie called The Rundown. Hoping to recapture that magic we picked up Southland Tales, but got more than we bargained for: this movie was written and directed by Richard Kelly (Donnie Darko) and also had Jon Lovitz (and Laroquette!), Wallace Shawn(!!), Christopher Lambert (!!!) as well as Shanghaiist favorite Bai Ling. We were confused already, but the confusion persisted for another 145 doppel-ganger filled, apocalyptic, time-travelling, distopian-American minutes. The scenes and characters didn’t seem to really have anything to do with each other and for the majority of the film just makes zero sense. Also, not sure why, Justin Timberlake lip-syncs an entire song by “The Killers.” At least we didn’t see the Cannes version of the film which was 160 minutes.
Lessons learned: Ensemble casts are inherently evil. Distopian films are also generally inadvisable (See: Waterworld).
*Prices for DVDs may vary depending on quality and vendor.
Other Shanghaiist contributors recommend not watching:
HITMAN I was looking for a Die Hard style high-octane, people jumping out of the way of explosions whilst they shot two guns at once kind of thing. Unfortunately it wasn’t as high brow as that. (James Creegan)
Ett Hål I Mitt Hjärta (A Hole In My Heart) by Lukas Moodysson – Indie Swedish movie that is shockingly provocative without purpose. Scene after scene of disturbing human degradation without a plot. There is no better way to waste 98min of your life. (Wee Ling Soh)
THE LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN’S APOCALYPSE I remembered the first TV series being fairly good and thought it might make for a good hangover film. It didn’t. I think i made it to about the 40 minute mark (where for no real reason it goes into some sort of medieval sub-plot) before ejecting it in a hail of expletives. (Jake Newby)
HANNIBAL RISING I can’t believe they made this movie, and I can’t believe Gong Li is in it. Probably the only bad copy bootleg DVD I ever got that I was glad wasn’t a good copy bootleg DVD. (Eric Hu)
BACHELOR PARTY 2: THE LAST TEMPTATION. This is not even a cheap witless cash-in on a `good’ lads comedy like American Pie, for example American Pie Presents: The Naked Mile. This is a third generation cash-in on the cash-ins. It’s got no redeeming features.(Andy Best)
Two words:SLUTTY SUMMER (Pete Chorba)
STAR WARS: EPISODE I and subsequent prequels.(Cameron Wilson)
Ryan Pollack also hated Southland Tales and Rebekah Pothaar was bored by, but did not loath, THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM.