The Condemned (2007)
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I think this film just gets a bad rap from critics because WWE is associated with it and no one wants to be the guy that gives them a break. It certainly won't win an Oscar, but if you enjoy action films then I'd definitely give this a chance. Just try & forget WWE is associated with it, let it stand on it's own two feet and judge it for yourself with an open mind.
But there's where the similarity stops. There's no PA system to tell the scattered involuntary participants just how many survivors there are (thus leading to a loophole), and there are multiple camera rigs installed on the island, for the purpose of entertainment. The Condemned plays on some of our intrinsic nature of wanting to watch gladiatorial styled violence, and given that such content will probably never get on the TV networks, the fairly sci-fi turned reality TV over IP concept gets its airtime here. What networks refuse to screen and produce, you can, given the right equipment and personnel, and plenty of computing power.
Pay-per-view IPTV using credit cards is the road to riches for the game producer Ian Breckel (Robert Mammone), who champions the thought of producing content that audiences around the world want to watch. His argument was that these handpicked participants are going to die anyway, and here, he's giving one of them the chance to live, a noble gesture to him. The Condemned mocks today's reality TV format, in that sometimes, the game can be manipulated to satisfy the producers' objectives, and we see that in abundance here.
Violence it seems is high on the agenda here - how much can an audience stomach, especially if say hypothetically, Big Brother type of series allow violence to be met out live, unedited and raw. Or are you going to play to those who pay, and give in to the demand? There's a constant argument being played out early in the movie about dignity and decency, but that gets forgotten fairly easily in a film like this one, falling victim to its own preachy statements.
Especially so when Sports Entertainment companies like WWE are involved in this one. WWE had its fair share of stars lending their "acting talent" to Hollywood, and I can go as far back as the late Andre the Giant lending his physical presence in The Princess Bride. Then you have Hulk Hogan in various forgettable flicks, The Rock in some charismatic roles (though some are as cheesy as that in Be Cool), and Kane in the horrid See No Evil. Here, Stone Cold Steve Austin plays the lead role of Jack Conrad, an inmate with an unspecified past, who becomes someone more than anyone had bargained for.
But the star unfortunately is not Austin, as much as he plays the anti-hero. Vinny Jones, as British prisoner Ewan McStarley, clearly stole his thunder, and injected more personality into his maniacal character. While the format of the game had the prisoners from different parts of the world to allow everyone a chance to root for their home players, it was at times ironic that USA had to battle UK so prominently in the movie, and that the "with me or against me" line just brings to mind the many scenarios as played out ever so often. It's ra-ra for the USA in an in-your-face fashion, with eye-for-an-eye violence dished out for avenging the weak and wounded, and the showing of compassion to those who needs it.
The make up of the team of pla yers too is interesting on purpose, with female players up against male ones (and what happens is such an easy guess), and Survivor styled formation of alliances, outwitting, outlasting, outplaying all being key to survival, but the story, with so many characters, dictate that you cannot go beyond what is superficially shown. Of course the leads got a little more background to show for, but you find that these happen to be just cosmetics, unnecessarily inflating the screening duration.
The Condemned tried to be a little deep, but ended up tossing its attempts aside to settle for an all out action movie towards the end, and what I thought was bordering on the ridiculous at Austin's ability. For action junkies, the sequences here might be a little repetitive with its usual big explosions, and the extreme closeups of violence using the shaky hand-held camera technique just irritates. If the premise still excites you after all the mentioned flaws, then The Condemned managed to appeal to you with its in-movie concept - I think you'll pay US $49.95 should there be a channel like this on the internet.
Steve Austin joins 9 other on the island where they stalk and eliminate each other in some of the most violent ways imaginable.
This part of the story is fairly involving, but as the violence becomes more sadistic, it no longer seems entertaining. The sobering effect spreads to the movie characters as well, too late to help the combatants. Self righteously, the producers use this as a podium to speak down to the audience who bought tickets to watch the very entertainment they are presenting.
The movie is not helped by a stateside subplot involving Stone Cold's girlfriend who lives on a sprawling ranch and supports herself as a waitress.
THE CONDEMNED : 6.7 OUT 10
THE FIGHT IS ON .
As a setup for a testosterone packed action film it is hard to argue that it's bad since it does pretty much what it sets out to do. The whole subplot of violence as entertainment is also interesting enough. Naturally both of these things have been tackled on film before and in better form than this, but this by no means makes the film bomb by trying to out run itself and be too smart. Where the film does mess up is with another subplot involving the hero trying to get back to his wife. You see, he was a government agent and went to prison to keep his cover as a "badguy" and this kept him out of contact with his wife. Not only is this the most clichéd part of the film, it is the least interesting and the least relevant to the message that the main part of the film sets up. Sure, there needs to be some audience sympathy for the protagonist in a film like this, but it shouldn't interfere with the rest of the movie.
Another thing is the shaky cam, as it has come to be called. Is this some sort of budget cutting device? The production doesn't use dollies and camera rigs any more to cut down costs? The fight scenes here are pretty good, and they should be in an action film, but with such messy camera work they are not shown very well. Some films manage to have good shaky cam scenes as they give it a certain edge, but many films either get the rhythm wrong or go to far and it doesn't look as good as it could have looked. --- 6/10
BsCDb Classification: 13+ --- violence, profanity
That might sound entertaining, and it is. The film is filled with brutal violence that you can't feel guilty about. Another positive is that it doesn't try to become smart, it stays at it's level and never drifts away from it's unoriginal plot. The last positive is, surprisingly,Steve Austin is not half bad as the star. Despite being a wrestler with no movie talent, he says as much dialogue as Clint Eastwood in "Dirty Harry" and the majority of his time on screen is him fighting other opponents. I can also say he is much better than John Cena in "The Marine." Unfortunately, there are undeniable negatives. Including the entertaining violence getting uncontrollably repetitive, the abrupt ending, and the everything that happens outside of the violence. Whenever the film cuts to the audience or the people running the show, the film slows down. (That is the perfect time to go to the bathroom).
If you were going to see this film, wait till DVD. It may look interesting, but it's not. It just keeps rambling on with violence and gore and the film never goes higher than an ATTEMPT to make a decent film. When the film begins, the WWE films logo comes up and that right there brings it down a few notches, and the negative elements don't help it's cause.
Spoiler Warning: After All how many different ways can you come up with to kill people with an anklet bracelet bomb. I could see how the movie was going to end almost before it started. Please do not see this movie in the theater. I would not even bother with the DVD.
Now on to "The Condemned":
I had low expectations for this movie, mainly because it was advertised as a purely action genre. The plot of televising people fighting one another for survival has been used before, and usually end up the same way.
This film wasn't so different from that formula, but it surprised me the emotion that pervaded the film. It was rough and unrelenting, and I actually felt anxious during certain scenes.
Stone Cold Steve Austin was actually impressive in this film. Although it wasn't Oscar-worthy material, he showed a surprising ability to convey a caring, yet sarcastic humanity behind his character. Austin didn't make this movie entirely, though, as several of the supporting characters also gave an impression of depression and intensity -- intensity of which must be given to Vinnie Jones.
The conclusion of the film is, surprisingly, also fulfilling. It is really intense and brings out just how faulty and violence-oriented we as human beings really are.
Although it didn't possess the deeply involving storyline and deep character relationships and development that I usually look for in a good movie, I find "The Condemned" to be a rather enjoyable and provoking film.
Rating: ** out of five
New Dinoman214 rating system:
***** - Absolutely Must-See
**** - Great
*** - Good
** - Fair
* - Poor
- Do not see for the sake of your sanity and savings account
Those expecting a bloody good time will be sorely disappointed as the frenetic camera work disrupts any kind of thrill the premise might produce. You see a blizzard of blows flash by as the high octane editing process and constantly moving camera remove any possibility of seeing two competitors exchanging real blows in a proper fashion. Stone Cold Steve Austin is a credible enough hero and Vinnie Jones is as unhinged a psycho as ever before, but they are undermined by sloppily staged action sequences which will likely give the intended audience a headache or the desperate craving for Dramamine by the time it's over. There's plenty of hand-to-hand combat sequences which could really hum if the director and cinematographer could keep their damn camera still long enough for us to enjoy it. Perhaps the filmmakers didn't have enough faith in their leads to provide realistic combat, but it's a shame that, burdened by the rather thin story-line, it can not deliver on what it's supposed to. Impressive setting with the jungle and dangerous rocks leading to rushing water as Breckel has cameras spread throughout capturing the action as it unfolds(..also having men camouflaged filming some action live on the scene). An ongoing story-line has Breckel dealing with the animosity of members of his staff who are finding it hard to deal with the violence that is transpiring. Within the screenplay is an indictment on reality television and the desire for viewing real, live bloodshed. Practically everyone's dead by the end of this film.
I saw this film last weekend and in my opinion it is worth seeing as a rental, not worth buying or paying the extra for the cinema tickets.
The only really good thing about the film is Austin getting beat up by Vinne Jones (a true hard man! Just watch any of his Wimbeldon FC football games!).
Other than that, it is quite predictable, there are a few surprises, but you see 9/10 things coming a mile away!
Rent it, purely for the Vinnie Vs Austin scene's.
Oh, for the wrestling fans wondering if Austin can "make" a film just like he used to "make" matches, he can not! The film is bad but not terrible!
Though the concept seems to be relative, condemned has a whole new prospect of story...
The idea of dropping the criminals in the island and make them to fight for their lives has worked out wonderfully....
The acting of Steve is not bad and in my opinion he would have done better...
The action scenes are well carried out throughout the movie and action lovers will love it for sure...
Overall, a good movie worth a watch.... :)
Following along similar lines of Battle Royal and the newly released The Hunger Games, a group of international death row inmates are sent to an island to fight to the death in order to win their freedom - with the whole thing broadcast live on the internet.
As highly unbelievable as this situation may seem, the moral repercussion are actually adequately addressed. The illegal show gains a mass following but not without attracting the attention of certain international agencies.
I'm not a huge fan of Steve Austin or WWE wrestling and so at first I was a bit sceptical about a WWE production with the lead role being given to a pro wrestler. But despite this he performs his role well, and the acting is of a pretty good standard throughout. The fight scenes are gritty and believable, and the sub-plot back story doesn't interfere too much with the action.
This is switch-your-brain-off entertainment. Enjoy it for what is is. 7/10
On a remote South Pacific island, television producer Ian Breckel (Robert Mammone) has bought 10 death row prisoners for his own deadly game of Survivor. The convicts will fight to the death until there is only one winner who will gain their freedom. Breckel plans on broadcasting the carnage over the Internet in hopes of gaining huge profits for himself. Among the prisoners are the mysterious Jack Conrad (Steve Austin) and the homicidal Ewan McStarley (Vinny Jones). The game is now on for what is literally the fight of their lives.
Scott Wiper's direction is the biggest downfall to what could have been a great action movie. With quick cuts accompanied by hard rock, Wiper seems to be directing a music video more than a feature film. He does not let the audience fully benefit and appreciate the prisoners fighting one-on-one. Instead of using a wide shot to show the convicts going at it, Wiper opts to use close-ups of the actors who are dishing out the punishment. This severely takes away from the concept of the story and the film. The basis is to show what murderous felons would do when placed on in a life or death situation. By reducing the visual effectiveness, the point becomes moot. When the actors are not moving, Wiper's direction gets better. He does to a well enough job in showing the more brutal crimes such as rape without having to show the actual deed. The implication itself does more for the audience than the filming ever could.
The weak direction is accompanied by an equally weak script by Wiper and Rob Hedden. The story begins decently with the battle of wills between convicts. It is when the story turns into a forced morality tale that it falls apart and makes the audience hang their heads and groan. Throughout the duration of the film, the story becomes filled with the standard counterpoint arguments, e.g., the convicts are human beings, violence is simply entertainment, etc. These arguments would have made a more profound impact if they could not have been seen a mile away. If the script makes it known that these prisoners are hardened and remorseless criminals, what is the purpose of having empathy for them? The point of "violence is entertainment" is a dispute against the film itself. Wiper and Hedden seem to saying that it is wrong for the audience to be watching this brutal film they have created.
Even with a role that seems tailor-made for Steve Austin, he is not able reach the full potential of the character. Again, this is more due to the poor script and directional planning. As Jack Conrad, Austin is supposed to be an ass-kicking, take-no-prisoners badass. But he is hardly involved in any conflicts until the nearly the end of the film. Throughout the majority of the movie, Austin is forced to play Conrad as a sympathizer for the prisoners and the hardships they have endured. It is a major letdown for any fan of the superstar or action movies. Contrary, Vinny Jones has more action sequences and more chances to engage his character of Ewan McStarley. Jones really plays McStarley to the full tilt as a ruthless, unconscionable madman. He masterminds most of the killings and does all the combats that audiences were expecting from Austin. Audiences will be more excited to see Jones on the screen because they will know that something will go down. One can also see that Vinny Jones seems to be having more fun with his character than the rest of the cast because he has something useful to do.
Even by action movie standards, "The Condemned" has all the lucidity of a drug addict telling stories to school children. It enjoys brief moments of high points and adrenaline but has too many gaps between the action sequences and the story. The direction is just too poor and the script is too rushed for the movie to be fully enjoyable. The only condemned are those who bought a ticket for this movie. Yours truly is guilty as charged.
of course the plot have been edited to work for the American audience, seeing that in Battle Royale, the contestants were teenagers, not convicts. I don't think that the US could withstand a Hollywood movie about teenagers going on a killing spree on each other's as the Battle Royale depicts. but the new plot works well, and makes you question how far reality TV is willing to go to entertain.
Compared to other LGF/WWE movies; like The Marine and See No Evil. The Condemned is a genius action movie that work on many levels, at least more than John Cena's boring and totally unrealistic flick.
7/10 and i am being harsh
I just found out that "The Condemned" is a remake of a Japanese film with a similar premise (with students, i.e. perhaps even dumber), and am not really surprised. Hollywood has become so decadently lacking in ideas and inspiration that remakes and idea-theft is practically all that's left.
TC basically has a wrestler, Steve Austin (even if you never saw him, you'll immediately know he's a wrestler; the face, the body, and the strange line-delivery are a dead giveaway), who plays an appallingly dumb ex-navy guy/marine/whatever. He makes bad decisions CONSTANTLY: 1) he refuses the key for his handcuffs, in what is meant to show his defiance toward his captors (there are much smarter ways to defy someone than by shooting yourself in the foot; that's the Bin Laden school of thought). 2) He gets a chance to telephone somebody - not exactly the norm in such a situation - and who does he call? His ex. What do they discuss? Her feelings. Only 5 minutes later does it dawn on him (after his ex asks for his location) that he should find out the co-ordinates for the island i.e. help the U.S. rescue team find him. 3) His refusal to kill Vinnie Jones, which comes back like a boomerang. In fact, the pacifistic aspect of Austin's character is laughable; here we have a guy who "killed more people than all the other 9 combined", and yet he keeps sparing lives of murderers who threaten his own. So what is he, an assassin-with-the-heart-of-gold? A wrestler-with-the-heart-of-Gandhi? More like the killer-with-the-peanut-brain.
There are many far-fetched and just outright dumb things about TC. We have a multi-millionaire, who for some strange reason known only to himself i.e. which he refuses to share with the audience, decides to become America's or even the world's most-wanted man by organizing a highly illegal game of "Ten Little Indians". Why would he do that? We are told he is intelligent, and we are told that he can sell a used chewing-gum to a university professor. So why do this? How could he possibly think he could get away with it? Or be in hiding for the rest of his life? The assumption, of course, is that all multi-millionaires (let alone billionaires) are corrupt, immoral swine, which is very rich - coming from fat, decadent, RICH Hollywood film-makers.
The game starts off with the ten "contestants" being thrown out of a helicopter. WHY??? It's obvious that the organizers went through great pains and spent tons of money on getting all these murderers released (a harmless bit of idiocy, by comparison) so WHY would they want to risk having them all killed before the game even begins!? One of the ten actually does die straight away; he is mistakenly thrown on the ground and impaled. Austin, the wrestler, is thrown on land, too, and survives because obviously wrestlers fall from 100 meters height every day and live to tell the tale. We've even got two females in the 10. We've even got a married couple! A married couple of serial-killers who behave like a regular, non-psychopathic pair! Full of love and tears for each other: I think I'm gonna sob now! Tell you what. I don't even see any moral problem with taking 10 psychopaths condemned to death and letting them fight it out. Actually, that would be poetic justice, wouldn't it, because most murderers are cowards and kill only from a position of physical strength and by surprise. Hence, experiencing actual pain, as opposed to merely getting hanged and dying quickly would be more just. However, the problem in this silly movie is that the convicts do NOT all behave like psychopaths, which they should logically be (apart from Austin, who predictably is jailed wrongly).
I also have to address the laughable hypocrisy in the film-makers trying to make a message (you read that right) at the end of the movie. The message is violence in society, reality shows going overboard, bla bla bla. The only problem is that this very movie caters to the public's insatiable appetite for violence, as well! Ridiculous, and so transparent.
One of the most illogical moments in the film is when Young and the Japanese guy decide to fight each other, thinking/knowing that they're the last ones left. One question: HOW could either of them possibly have known that the others were all dead (well, apart from Austin)?? TC doesn't start so badly, has an okay cast of "killers" (Austin can't act but he's likable enough, plus Jones is always fun to have) and could have been a fun mindless action film, if it had stuck solely to the action, and if there had been an iota of an effort not to have so much nonsense in it. Like the dull malarkey surrounding the millionaire's film-crew rebellion against the show.
A movie made by idiots for idiots.
So a TV producer creates an internet show where convicts across the world are sent to an island to fight to the death, the winner gets freedom and money. So they spend way too much time on the producer and his girlfriend despising him more and more over the show and his crew turning against him. The convicts have very little to no back story, pretty much a few of them have their crimes mentioned and that's all you ever know about them. They spend too much time away from the convicts, like they show what Steve Austin's girlfriend is doing despite her never doing anything useful in the entire movie except answer the phone twice and watch the webcast.
So again the fights were badly filmed. The kills were very lame. Every convict has an exploding ankle bracelet with a tab, if someone pulls the tab then it blows up in 10 seconds. All you see is a cheesy fire explosion without a single drop of blood or even a body. They also try so hard to be shocking and edgy by doing things like having an off camera rape scene where the film crew just sits there and does nothing about. They also do the whole Cannibal Holocaust thing where they try to send the message of "if we try to profit for such horrid things then how are we better than them." But they don't do anything shocking in this movie to hit the message home.
All you're really left with is just a mediocre ripoff of Con Air, Battle Royale, and Cannibal Holocaust. Not much blood, not enough action, very little character development, a very predictable plot (we all know from the start that the good guy lives and the bad guys don't.) They never even try to swerve the audience it's just a very predictable movie that tries to have a message just to attempt to make it look smart. So if you get a free rental at Blockbuster or get it really cheap then maybe you might want to watch it. But I'd rather you just get The Running Man, Con Air, Battle Royale, or just play the video game Manhunt. All of those will satisfy you in ways this movie never can.
The movie was directed with insight, detail and the ability to engage the audience.
Will see this movie several times and I bought the soundtrack.