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Hell Ride (2008)

Directed and Written by Larry Bishop

While I have not spoken of this in the past, I am an extremely huge enthusiast of anything having to do with Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino. I first fell for their work when From Dusk til Dawn was released. Since then, I have only founded an even more appreciation for their work and of the effort they put into making their films. SO, who wouldn’t want to use either of them as a production credit to their advantage?

The film opens up to our main character, Pistolero, lying in the desert with an arrow in his stomach. And then Hey! 32 years prior and then Hey! again, flash forward back the 32 years. Usually I would discuss a little of the general storyline for the film so that you could more or less know what you’re getting into. Except that it is completely devout of any actual story plot to keep you engaged until almost an hour into the film. Of which it was too late to salvage and bring any type of audience in by that point.

A seldom feel to the Grind House theme Bishop was shooting for and having met both Michael Madsen and Quentin Tarantino on the set of Kill Bill: Volume 2, it would appear to have all the same sentiments of a good ‘ol fashion Quentin movie. Except with none of the right components. Quite honestly, I can see this film looking really good on paper. So it upset me a bit to see a few others out there saying “shame on you Quentin” or silly statements like such because he was executive producer on the project. I say shame on Larry Bishop. It’s clear, almost immediately, that the movie revolves around his character who must have enjoyed his time to shine in viewing the way the film revolved completely around his bad acting.

Now I personally have never seen any of Bishops movies prior so I cannot refute on whether he actually may be different then what I personally witnessed. But the entire film seemed like an exploitative account of Bishop and how cool he could make himself look. Every time he dawned the scene it would cue in with good tunes, endless amounts of naked women throwing themselves at him and a disappointing turn out of what I hoped would be any actual points made within the film. You even had the beautiful Leonor Varela with the worst dialogue that could be given. She was barely in the movie and yet every time she was on-screen she was advocating sex in what felt like she was trying entirely too hard. The only time she was actually able to trade any sort of conversation came when her and Bishop’s character had a flat-out foolish discussion involving entirely too many double entendres using fire. The film almost felt as an ultimate homage to Rodriguez’s & Quentin’s movies which I believe was why it reeled in an audience at all.

You have David Carradine as the Deuce, which they even misspell in the flick. There’s Michael Madsen who wasn’t necessarily bad, he was just himself, which will make sense if you’ve seen him in anything prior. Meaning for those who haven’t that Madsen emits a certain “coolness” that didn’t really fit into  this movie. He was known as “The Gent,” due to his character supposedly being really nice before killing his victims but you wouldn’t know this unless you watched the special features in which it’s explained. Vinnie Jones plays the Lead of the Six Six Sixers (the bad bikers) of which the Deuce is the head honcho of. Jones, of which can be intimidating enough was given a type of air powered spear gun that seemed a bit odd in that it was a freaking spear gun. Dennis Hopper was able to use his own bike seen in the film and came in and out of certain scenes, why not I guess. It wasn’t as though he didn’t have any good lines or enough air time, again, it just felt like he was just another name they could use to promote the movie. Leaving lastly Eric Balfour who while rode with both biker gangs discussed in the film holds a secret all his own and ends up becoming the main character while again seemingly happening out of nowhere.

For a movie that took almost years to put together it’s a shame to see the final product done as was. Perhaps Bishop knew more or less what he wanted out of the film but was just unaware of how he would be able to execute the entire thing. The Role of Comanche, eventually given to Balfour was rumored to have almost gone to Quentin himself or Josh Hartnett which I could not even begin to imagine quite honestly. Not too many people are aware of whom Balfour is and I’m almost sure I am the only one to remember Kids Incorporated. Though Balfour was one of the few things about the movie I wouldn’t change. For the type of movie it was, he seemed the most appropriate which I realize may not be saying a lot however didn’t have a whole lot to “bash” him on either. Carradine had at first declined to play the role which in turn made Bishop cut the scenes and make it possibly to film his part in a shorter amount of time. Making me wonder if in the end, it simply became a favor.

The film also felt as though it was constructed in an almost hurried manner. It’s not until an hour into the film that actually anything starts to “make sense” or you’re brought back to the beginning flashback to reveal what the heck is actually going on underneath the story. There were a few great shots of the biker gangs riding down empty roads which I always enjoy. There are a lot of bikers where I live and watching them all ride together is well, too cool, for lack of a better term. Between the soundtrack sounding like something almost out of a Robert Rodriguez film (though his would have been far superior) and the reminiscent scenes of Reservoir Dogs in which Madsen was in great reference to, I wonder how different the film may have been had Tarantino fix the script but still had Bishop play lead. It felt too much like an attempted flick by either of the duo and there is simply no comparison to the reel thing.