Condemned, The

dir: Scott Wiper

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to watch a movie celebrating rape, torture and other cruelties as entertainment, and then have the same movie lecture you that you should be ashamed of yourself for watching a flick that celebrates such violence? Curious about whether it would work or not to have a movie made by a scumbag of Vince McMahon’s proportions that tells you that YOU are the reason why he produces the crap that he does.

On that same track, has anyone ever slapped you in the face with a handful of wet shit and then told you to say “Thankyou?”

All these experiences and more were mine for the enjoyment when I dared to endure this terrible film. I sat there, mouth agape, muttering to myself, “I cannot believe the shit that I am seeing.”

Maybe this isn’t just a terrible film. Maybe it is the Bad Lieutenant of ‘transgressive” survival-of-the-fittest films, made with ex-wrestlers, C-list American actors and soap opera calibre Australian actors in supporting roles with terrible American accents. Maybe seeing a clearly Australian town and pub standing in for a Texan town and bar was meant to be funny. Maybe the subtext was meant to thrill the kinds of media academics and cinema studies students who would never ordinarily crap of this nature.

Maybe the mishmash of elements from Battle Royale, Rambo, Natural Born Killers and Wrestlemania do cohere in an intelligent and compelling manner. I couldn’t tell, because I was too busy thinking about just how utterly fucked-in-the-head the whole, entire production was.

The families of the people who were involved in producing this flick should avert their eyes at the dinner table and shun them for at least a while. Shop keepers should refuse to serve them. Drug dealers should boycott selling them steroids and the other pick-me-ups that get them through their days and nights.

Speaking of which, bullet-headed, steroid-maximised former wrestler ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin stars as the inexplicable hero Jack Conrad. He maintains a single expression throughout, and grunts out all his dialogue in the same sleepy monotone as well. I can’t really say that I wanted his character to die, but I can’t really say I wanted the actor to live, either.

An unscrupulous Vince McMahon clone (Robert Mammone) decides, somehow, that he’s going to get 10 condemned criminals (GET IT? GET WHERE THE TITLE COMES FROM???) on an island, where they all have to kill each other, and he’s going to stream it live onto the internet, charging subscribers for access to the monochromatic and dull footage. I know it’s dull footage, because I’ve seen the film. There’s no way 40 million people would subscribe to something so dull in the space of a day. Plus, there’s not enough computer hardware on the planet to allow for such an idiotic scenario.

Regardless, one of the evil condemned is actually an American patriot and hero in the shape of Bullet Head. Bullet Head manfully strides around the island they put all the retards, sorry, differently-abled morons, on to in order to fight it out. Two of the participants are women, so not only is the prospect that the female of the species is much deadlier than the male, but that such a lurid scenario can only benefit from having the constant threat of rape and torture of women thrown in for good measure.

Even, and I say this cautiously, even in a cinematic world where one can intellectually justify movies like the Hostel flicks (if not aesthetically), nothing that happens in this flick really comes across as that horrifying. Sure, the implied actions taken by one of the more sadistic contestants (the perpetually one-note Vinnie Jones) are horrifying, and did make me feel empty and depressed. But the real horrors spew forth from the mouth of the producer who justifies his actions in ways that sound like he’s being operated remotely by Vince McMahon.

This isn’t the time and place to explain to the uninitiated who McMahon is, but if you don’t know, then just think of someone who combines the best qualities of Donald Trump with the business savvy and morals of your average pornographer/viper.

It is as inevitable as night following day that Bullet Head will kill anyone that needs killing and triumph over everything in order to return to his girlfriend (Madeline West, who spends the majority of the flick starring at a screen with a confused expression on her face as if she’s wondering if she left the iron on when she left for work that day).

But what is not inevitable is the terrible manner in which even the one thing you’d want to get right in such a flick devoid of all other reasons to watch it is the goddamn action. It is filmed so poorly that it actually made me laugh. Then it made me yawn. Then it made angry. Then it made me yawn angrily.

When one of the meatheads goes to punch another meathead, the camera lurches in the direction of the punch, let’s say. Upon the implied impact, the camera would shudder as if it hit something as well, trying to, I don’t fucking know, give the viewer the impression of what it would be like to be one of Stone Cold Steve Austin’s meaty fists? Is this a flick told from the hammy fist’s point of view?

“Dear Diary. I woke up today. I clenched and unclenched, said hi to the fingers, wondered what that smell was, and why I hadn’t been washed in a while. Suddenly, I was all tense, then I slammed into the side of this guy’s head. Wow, what a rush. It hurt a bit but it was so worth it. And then it was even better the more times I snapped bones and caused lacerations and major contusions. Did I sleep well that night or what!”

A movie by fists for fists. Is there a fan-base of knuckles and knuckleheads who could really appreciate camerawork that bad? As a fan of bone-breaking violence in the movies, I’d have to say that professional wrestling generally manages to be more convincing than any of the scenes in this dire flick. And that’s not saying much.

The fact that the set up is staggeringly stupid, implausible and all the rest of it, and that the acting is wretched even by the acting standards of the Bushmen of the Kalahari who speak in clicks and pops, isn’t the final insult. Nor is the fact that the action is terrible in a flick where the action should be the one redeemer.

The final insult is that the makers presume to blame us for the movie’s utter shiteness by daring to speak of the public’s desire for trash and bloodsports.

Last I checked, no-one forced the WWE, which stands for World Wrestling Entertainment, to exist or to make movies like this. And if there weren’t fans of their product sufficiently dumb enough to find it entertaining and to be willing to watch it and purchase the merchandise, they wouldn’t have the money to sink into excrement like this.

It’s a flick that makes you wonder whether there is any lasting worth to our entire fucking species. Yes, it’s that bad.

1 time punching yourself in the head whilst wondering what your fist thinks about it for two hours is preferable to watching this crap out of 10

“Where do you live?
- Alaska.
Whereabouts in Alaska?
- In a little fishing town, you probably heard of it, it’s called Fuck Your Mamma.” – The Condemned