Tuesday, 18 January 2011
Review - no-budget no-brainer 'Circle of Pain'
It's a familiar tale. Only this time it's set in the realm of mixed martial arts. And done on what looks to be a very, very low budget. With Dean Cain in a wheelchair saying "fuck" a lot.
I try not to judge a low-budget direct-to-DVD movie by its cover, I really do. For filmmakers to have limited resources at their disposal does not automatically mean the end product will be of a lower artistic merit. But in my experience it very often suggests that the film will leave a great deal to be desired in terms of aesthetics, performance, writing, and pretty much everything else with the exception of gratuitous sex and violence.
And guess what - Circle of Pain ticks all the boxes. It may not be the most inept fight film I've ever seen - that distinction must go to the (shudder at their name) Brain Damage Films release, Fist of the Vampire (click title for my review) - but this is still an utterly, utterly stupid movie, with a flimsy and derivative script, feeble central performances, and often painfully amateurish camerawork and editing. It's the kind of film where you can accurately predict exactly what's going to happen from moment to moment, and the only surprises come from the many various ways in which the key players fail to make it work dramatically.
But then... there's plenty to be said for movies so unrelentingly bad that you can't help but laugh. And obviously no-one involved thinks they're filming Ibsen. As cheap and tacky goes, Circle of Pain is at least good for a few shits and giggles.
Take leading man Tony Schiena (pictured left - and yes, he is most definitely the lead, not big beardy guy Kimbo Slice as the cover art would seem to suggest. Shocking, I know. Misleading DVD covers suggesting something that barely resembles the actual movie? Whatever next?) I see from the press release that Schiena's a World Karate Champion, which certainly explains a bit as one would be most shocked if he'd been hired for his acting ability. Well, that's not entirely fair - action stars have never been made on the basis of being talented, versatile performers. They succeed based on charisma. And this guy has none. The character's a cardboard cut-out, the actor's a cardboard cut-out, all of which highlights what a cardboard cut-out of a movie this is.