- Rating: NO STARS
- Title: The Condemned
- IMDB: link
There is a moment, one moment, in the film where a reporter (Angie Miliken) balks at the atrocity of a duel to the death battle royal and blames not only the creators of the show but the worldwide audience for tuning in. For a split second the film takes a stand against decaying morality and standards, and the ill-effects of violence on our world. And then it goes back and celebrates the same type of mindless torture it wanted to condemn for another half-hour. I’ve always said Vince McMahon would strangle babies on stage for quarters if you let him, and here’s the film that proves me right. The Condemned might not be the worst film ever made, but it’s definitely in the conversation.
The set-up, basically stolen from The Running Man (a much better flick in every way possible), involves an unscrupulous television producer (Robert Mammone) who buys up death row inmates from around the world and drops them off on an island to kill each other. The victor wins freedom, a big cash prize, and a trip off the island.
I’d go into detail about the contestants and characters of the film but they aren’t really that important and most of them die in pretty pointless and stupid ways. If the creators of this travesty didn’t care that much about them, why should you or I? And, if you don’t know who will win going in and be able to guess which characters won’t be killed off within the first ten minutes, then this film might just be stupid enough for you.
Let’s just jump right into the film’s problems, and they are numerous. There are too many to discuss in length so I narrowed my list down to ten which I found particularly troubling.
1). Camera work - I have never seen a more amateurish looking studio film. I could swear this was made by somebody’s father with his camcorder. The shots are often out of frame, and the action sequences, done completely by hand, are so jumbled and shaky that you can’t tell what is going on – AT ALL. It makes The Blair Witch Project look like one long steady cam shot. It’s as if the cameraman has a constant nervous tick which is interfering with his highly caffeinated, clouded mind and epileptic seizure ridden body. I was seriously considering sending this guy some Anticonvulsant medication until I realized the simple truth behind the botched camera work – it’s so awful on purpose to distract from how worse every other aspect of the film is by comparison.
2) Acting - I saw little evidence of any so we’ll move on. Seriously though, this is your typical B-movie style job and Steve Austin actually might come off okay if he wasn’t burdened with such a crappy script and forced to be out of focus for all of his stunts.
3) Brutality - The film is brutal, and not brutal in a Robocop or Rambo fun kind of way (or even in a Rambo III or Robocop 3 kind of way). Here the film is just merciless. How bad does it get? One of the female contestants (Emelia Burns) is beaten and strangled and fights off an attempted rape (while the whole thing is being broadcast). The other woman (Dasi Ruz) is beaten, tortured and raped by a pair of men (Vinnie Jones, Masa Yamaguchi) in front of her chained husband (Manu Bennett). Wow, talk about bad taste.
4) Inconsistencies - About half of these murderous killers turn out to by nice guys and girls who you can root for and they even cry and talk about their lives, and Austin’s character even turns out to be a hero. Joy. So we aren’t even delivered the one thing promised by the film – a group of merciless killers. Instead we get a loving couple, some idiots, panzies, and one cruel bastard and a kung fu geek.
5) The Set-Up - Why is the control/broadcast station on the island? It doesn’t need to be, but hey if we put it there we can have all the mad killers go after the real baddies – the TV people! And if all the cameras are mounted in the jungle why are all the action scenes we are tortured with done by shaky cam?
6) The Deal - Just how does the show get a hold of these prisoners and with whose authority can they set free the winner?
7) The Love Subplots - We can’t even get into a good action out of focus groove without being pulled out for troubled relationship between two killers, the troubled relationship between Austin and his gal back home (Madeline West), and the troubled relationship (sense a pattern here?) between the producer and his girlfriend (Tory Musset) – the only member of the crew who shows humanity or anything resembling reason.
8) The Writing - Seriously? Grown-ups wrote this? Three of them? It took three grown men to come up with this?
9) The Pace - The film is just all over the place, and constantly out of frame and focus, and the characters are so thinly written, that it’s impossible to get wrapped up in any part of the story.
10) The Ending - First off it came about 112 minutes too late (running time is 113 minutes). Only two characters make it off alive (not such a big spoiler alert). You will get both names right on your first guess. Nor do the “dramatic” plot twists and teases do anything other than give you more chances to groan and laugh at how bad this film truly is.
The the film is amateurish, to the Nth degree, it’s neither suspenseful nor thrilling, the action scenes are unwatchable, the writing and acting are below average, the premise is disgusting, and the film tries to revel in it and take the high road at the same time. Wow, I honestly can’t figure out a single way in which this film could have been worse. If the creators had purposely set out to make the worst film ever I doubt they could have done a better job.