|Index||4 reviews in total|
So i just got done watching this flick . I think this was a straight 2
DVD flick . Nevertheless it was mildly entertaining and a good story
enough to not get you bored . Also this is the director first time
directing a movie so i guess he managed to do a good job . Firstly
without revealing too much , its about a boxer who has moved from
America to bangkok for certain reasons and meets up with this so called
"fan" . I don't think i ever got bored in the film , and i kinda like
these low budget / not so Hollywood type movies . Actors in the film do
a good job in their roles and everyone did a decent job without over
reacting . There is a certain climax in the end , so look out for that
Overall i would give this move a 6.5 . Not more , Not less
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"The Bad Penny" is a perplexing but fascinating blending of crime
drama, psychological thriller, and neo-noir detective story a film
that, like actual memories, is pieced together largely from fragmented
flashback sequences that pop up at random. In actual linear time, it
unfolds in less than an hour and a half. In narrative time, everything
we see may in fact occur within a matter of minutes. We don't really
know for sure. All we do know is that director/co-writer Todd Bellanca
freely experiments with dialogue and structure as he fashions a raw and
ragged character study. The film's unconventional style is matched only
by its fast-and-loose production. The first week of shooting was done
without a locked script. The location work in Bangkok, which featured
existing buildings and real people, was done with only a six-man crew,
one of which was the star. Because the filmmakers lacked a permit, they
had to resort to bribing cops and bar owners.
Although the end result is not perfect, it certainly never fails to be engrossing. As we traverse its convoluted, meandering path, we witness the evolution of a man named Jack (Casey Evans), who was raised by his uncle Johnny (Jim Van Vleck) after his abusive parents committed suicide right in front of him. He would grow up to become a local boxing hero in his native St. Louis, only to be exiled in Bangkok after his refusal to throw a fight led to an unfortunate turn of events. As he becomes increasingly consumed by the city, both emotionally and physically, he finds himself falling in love with a Thai prostitute named Saranya (Sumonta Muangthai) and being tempted back into fighting by a Russian mobster named Terry (Ilia Volok), who has control of all Russians and all the fighting in that particular area.
Most of these events are being reenacted in Jack's memory, specifically as he shares them with a mysterious boxing fan named Marcus (Nick Faltas), who remembers Jack from his days in St. Louis. They meet in Jack's bar, a dimly-lit dive tucked away somewhere within the dense urban jungle of Bangkok. In what I suspect is the present day, Jack has become a shadow of his former self grossly overweight, heavily bearded, and numb on alcohol. Despite being in a downward spiral, and despite his apparent acceptance of it, his natural instinct is to fight back. There's a tragic reality to this character, in large part, I suspect, because Evans was able to merge his training as an actor with his real-life status as a former pro boxer. Unlike films such as "Rocky" or "The Fighter," boxing is not the overarching theme of the story; it's but one strand of many that are loosely woven together.
Exactly what is Marcus doing in that bar? How did he manage to find Jack? His exact nature is not entirely clear to me, but then again, maybe that was the intention. Marcus is, in the best possible sense, little more than a deus ex machina, the means by which Jack tells his story. If he does have any meaning as a character, it's entirely incidental. Pay special attention to the dialogue Bellanca and Sasha Levinson supply to Jack and Marcus as they engage in conversation; it sounds like a merging of hard-boiled private eye fatalisms and filthy gangster talk, where four-letter words are delivered as if the actors were being paid by the syllable. Sheer theatricality aside, you have to admire the skill with which Evans and Faltas bounce their lines off of each other. Like any good wordy film, it's like a well-paced ping pong match.
Bellanca shows a healthy fascination with the city of Bangkok, which displays an alluring architectural contrast between ancient wonder and urban seediness. Relying on a rough hand-held style of camera-work, due mostly to filming limitations imposed by local authorities, he examines the glow of neon signs in the red light districts, the frantic hustle and bustle of street and foot traffic, the undeniable lure of massage parlors, and the wetness of cobblestones on a humid night. The character of Jack is not in love with the city so much as possessed; it has grabbed hold of him, and no matter what he does, he will never be able to wriggle free.
The ending is perhaps too abstract for its own good. With its very nonlinear editing, it does little more than create confusion over what actually happened and when. Of course, if I'm to take Bellanca's word for it, confusion was the intention: "To me the film wasn't a veneer," he told Briege McGarrity of "Independent Film Quarterly" during an interview on this film. "When you scratch the surface you find it goes deeper and even if it takes a couple of viewings, the viewer is likely to discover details they missed the first time." I've only seen "The Bad Penny" once, so it's possible I'm not yet qualified to have an opinion on it. I don't know if I can handle a second viewing. All I know is that, although uncommon and at times difficult to follow, the film is visually and narratively hypnotic.
-- Chris Pandolfi (www.atatheaternearyou.net)
As a fan of both Bangkok and boxing it didn't matter that the IMDb
score rating was so low - we were going to watch it regardless! Having
seen it I wonder why it scored so badly. True it's a low-budget
exploitation flick, but that said, it's a perfect example of guerrilla
filmmaking where enthusiasm makes up for the lack of budget. The
montage editing sequences in particular work well. Even the on-the-hoof
spontaneous shots in Bangkok street scenes never stray into travelogue
territory and do add to the story's texture. There is great technique
and skill used not just in the film's construction but also in the
The starring role of Jack is superbly played by ex-boxer Casey T Evans and his interplay dialogue in the bar with Nick Faltas (Marcus) anchors the narrative in a perfectly understated manner around which the plot pivots like a butterfly and stings like a bee. It deserves a wider audience and more reviews!
This movie was better than I expected it to be. I enjoyed the boxing
scenes the most, although the cinematography throughout was uniquely
My next-door-neighbor Vance Thompson played the boxing referee in this film. He is an actual retired boxing referee, as well as a swing-dance champion, wood sculptor, ex-con and senior Olympian. He also appeared on the cover of the "Riverfront Times" several years ago under the headline "The Dresser". If you would like to cast a true St Louis character (and style icon) in your next film, please contact Vance at 314-968-8614.
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