film | Poor bloodsport
So this might be, like, the most obvious review opener ever, but THE CONDEMNED, a moronic thriller starring and produced by the action figures of World Wrestling Entertainment, ain't gonna win this year's Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. As a Special Ops spook who's plucked from a corrupt Central American prison to compete in a grisly Internet showdown against other unscrupulously-assembled death-rowers from across the globe, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin — he of the sitout three-quarter facelock jawbreaker, the aesthetically bizarre hulking-frame/skeletal-face combo, and the Wal-Mart poster bin — gets bupkis in the way of crackling dialogue. You'd think screenwriters Scott Wiper (who also directed) and Rob Hedden would've tossed at least a couple of decent kiss-off one-liners his way, but he mostly just growls variations on the same old boring-ass fight taunt:
- "Let's go!"
- "Let's go, sweetheart!"
- "Let's dance, asshole!"
And if you think I'm a bit outta line whining about the sophistication of the writing in a WWE flick, well, I'm not, cuz The Condemned takes itself seriously enough to betray its mindless-action-junk trappings and instead grandstand as a sanctimonious indictment of both violence-as-sport purveyors and hungry-for-blood spectators. Uh, hello, this movie was: A) bankrolled by an organization that makes scads of money from folks who watch with rabid enthusiasm as the overzealous man-ogres on their payroll pound each other in the face with folding chairs; and B) released by Lionsgate, the studio that plops one of those skanky Saw cesspools into theaters every Halloween. The Condemned, then, is almost amusing in its finger-wagging foolishness. Almost. "I want a fucking Arab! A child-killing, Koran-ranting, suicide-bombing Arab!" screams the sleazeball snuff producer (Robert Mammone), a real equal-opportunity offender, of the his program’s racial diversification; later, the worm predictably turns for a few of his tech lackeys who are shocked — shocked — when a female "contestant" is brutally dispatched, like, live on the Intarweb and everything! (Er, wasn't this in the job description?) As the feds frantically race to find this extremely illegal competition’s secret island location — why they don't think to simply ask the Diane Sawyer-esque journalist who was there shooting a segment for her TV show is beyond me — you'll feel increasingly like you just survived a sweltering jungle deathmatch yourself: i.e., in need of a very long, very hot shower. D