NOTE: I sent this one into The Ain’t It Cool News, but they never ran it. Almost as if they didn’t give a fuck about a new straight to video movie starring Busta Rhymes. I don’t know what the deal is.
Vern over here on the direct to video beat again, looking for flecks of gold in a mountain of crap. Well that’s my excuse most of the time but this time I’m doing a little bit of research. My last review on here was OUT OF REACH starring Steven Seagal, and I found out that some of the individuals over on steven-seagal.net were pretty upset at me for saying Seagal “looks like Bigfoot wearing a bad Dracula wig.” So to make it up to them I’m doing some footwork for them, looking into this director called “Mink” who is supposed to be directing Seagal in an allegedly theatrical Yakuza themed movie called INTO THE SUN. (Note the three word title again.)
Before that “Mink” did this little DTV rapper vehicle FULL CLIP which puts Busta Rhymes into a very basic blaxploitation kind of story. That sounds pretty bad but this one actually has a decent pedigree for DTV, because it’s written by this guy Kantz who directed LOVE AND A BULLET, one of the more surprisingly watchable straight to video movies I’ve reviewed on here.
When it hit the opening credits, I thought this one might be on the LOVE AND A BULLET level of not that badness. The opening has Busta walking through a building with two guns, massacring everybody in sight like some video game that would be popular with the people who read this sight but that I wouldn’t know about until they made it into a movie. It just seems mindless but then the first line in the movie is a voiceover where Busta says, “In case y’all wonderin, I didn’t start this shit. But I’m sure as hell gonna finish it.” Then it goes to the credits and to the story leading up to the massacre. Seems promising.
The story is this guy Pope (Busta) comes into town for his dad’s funeral. He didn’t like his dad much and is surprised to inherit a hotel, a bunch of money and an old Cadillac with fuzzy dice on the mirror. He sticks around long enough to hang out with his dad’s friend Sleepy (Bubba Smith, from the POLICE ACADEMY septrology) and find out that everybody in town is being fleeced by the cops and the corrupt sheriff, Mark Boone Jr. (from TREE’S LOUNGE and John Carpenter’s VAMPIRES). There is an entertaining fight scene in a barber shop where Busta beats down two cops, throws one through a window and then sits back down to finish his shave. And there are a couple eccentric little touches, like an old white dude in a top hat that comes out of nowhere to tell Pope “if he needs anything, anything at all…”
Later Pope decides to call up his old buddy from the Gulf War (not sure if it’s part 1 or part 2: Attack of the Butt Pyramid). This guy Duncan (Xzibit) brings a couple other guys with him, I guess two of them must be rappers and the other one is the great Tommy “Tiny” Lister. Always a plus. But this is where the movie dies. Instead of turning into an all out bloodbath at this point, like when Desperado’s friends showed up in DESPERADO, the movie just sits around for a while. Duncan and company sit around at a table smoking cigars and looking at a map for what seems like days. At one point one of them even complains that they aren’t doing anything. But Duncan yells at them and then they continue sitting around for a while doing nothing. The long they sit there and try to look tough, the less tough they look and the phonier the movie seems. They never have a big action scene to establish what these guys can do (or to take advantage of their much discussed military background) but then they murder the sheriff and immediately take over the town themselves, making things worse.
So eventually this Pope guy has to go kill his friends, and that part’s okay. But there’s nothing very clever and the execution isn’t good enough to make up for that. And they don’t even have the top hat guy come in and give them weapons or something, you just never see him again. The movie even starts to turn dumber. There is this kid in the movie named Stokely, and after the name’s been mentioned a bunch of times suddenly Pope asks where it comes from. Man, if I figured out it’s Stokely Carmichael then this guy oughta, if he’s gonna be a badass blaxploitation style hero. Come on, Pope.
The story is just too simple. It’s not nearly as funny or as complex as LOVE AND A BULLET (but to be fair it seems like it’s a much lower budget).
The best thing about the movie is Mr. Rhymes. My favorite movie I’ve seen this guy in is the remake of SHAFT. I liked that movie but I thought his part as the wacky comic relief sidekick was uncalled for. I also saw him in the despicable HALLOWEEN RESURRECTION and I think he was in NARC but I didn’t think he was all that great in either one. But he was likable enough that I was saying if they HAVE to remake DOLEMITE starring a rapper they should use him instead of LL Cool J, because he’s less smooth and has the gravelly voice.
In this movie though I seriously thought he was good. He seems like a better actor than before, he’s real charming and he has an impressive tough guy presence. I don’t know about the fight scene (with sped up kicks and punches) but he has potential.
The worst thing about the movie is Wyclef Jean, who plays the narrator. His part is embarassing. What it is is every once in a while they cut to him playing cards and drinking and talking in a fake Jamaican accent. What he says never adds anything to the story and he obviously shot his whole part in like 15 minutes. It seems like they just did it to add another rapper name to the DVD cover, but ironically they didn’t put his name on the DVD cover. So they should’ve cut that shit out of the movie.
And the second worst part, that brings me to the verdict on this Mink, who I’m guessing is some kind of music video director. I don’t know what gave it away. But I’m afraid this is one of those guys who is degrading our filmgoing experience by BASHING US OVER THE FUCKING HEAD with his show off filmatism. Instead of using his techniquery to serve the story, he just makes a list of every dumb gimmick there is and then tries to shoot through all of them in the opening scene. It’s like there’s a button marked “INTRUSIVE SHOW OFFY GIMMICK” and he’s just sitting there giggling, pushing it over and over again until his fingers get sore. If I could coin a word I would like to call these type of guys “whooshy”, because they have to add a stupid “whoooosh” sound effect to every movement of the camera. Every wipe. Every flash. Every live-action-shot-turns-into-comic-book-panel-for-no-reason. Every wacky digital transition or when words come on the screen. WHOOOSHH. ZZZIP. CLANG. SHHHHOOOOOP. That is the sound of the camera work and editing on this movie.
HEY, LOOK AT ME, I’M THE CAMERA AND I’M MOVING. WWWHHHHHOOOOOSSSSHHH! OVER HERE! FOLLOW THE SOUND! AT THE END OF THE RAINBOW OF WHOOSH IS A BIG POT OF EXCITEMENT!
Dude, Mink, that shit doesn’t work. You can’t trick us into thinking something is exciting if it’s not. You first have to just make something that is exciting. At the very least, you have to give us enough credit that a fucking whoosh is not going to make us excited. The right music might work. A whoosh will not work. Give up the whoosing, Mink.
This is also a movie that freeze frames each character introduced and writes their name on the screen. This was already old when Kantz did it in LOVE AND A BULLET, so this time the way they change it up is by making it not just regular letters, but SHINY METALLIC LETTERS! Like on the movie poster for a bad Hollywood Jackie Chan movie.
I hate all that shit. Fortunately Mink gets tired of it after a while, or his finger does get sore, so he stops doing it. His photography is good (using high definition video that doesn’t look like crap) and he finds lots of nice colors. And honestly there are some music video type jumpcuts and sped up footage that verge on whooshy but work anyway. I wouldn’t completely write him off, but I would mostly write him off. Sorry Mink.
Anyway, bottom line is, Busta Rhymes probaly has a good movie in his future somewhere and I’m willing to give Kantz another chance, but I won’t pretend anybody else is gonna enjoy this one. You can only watch so many movies that are almost there. I’ll let you guys sit this one out and let you know when there’s a better one.
VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.