Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

You wanna know why should watch this movie ‘Bad Ass’?  So you can see Charles S. Dutton sprint down a sidewalk in gators.  Watching a 61 year old, 280 pound, 5’4” dude in pointers and a pastel yellow pants suit running down a sidewalk was funny and I know Mr. Dutton couldn’t have been none too happy about that.  This isn’t the only reason to watch director Craig Moss’ wildly erratic action thriller comedy romance parody ‘Bad Ass’, but it might be the main reason.

Danny Trejo is damaged Vietnam war vet Frank Vega.  Just so you know, I’m of the opinion that this role is just about picture perfect for the 68 year old Danny Trejo, even more so than his role as Machete.  I mean Machete is a way better movie, but there’s something about the character of Frank Vega that seems to fit Mr. Trejo like a glove.  Anyway, after serving his country and getting his purple heart, Frank found life back from ‘Nam to be difficult, at best.  Forty years later, life still sucks for Frank Vega.  Then one day while on the bus, this decrepit hot dog vendor violently stops some skinheads from beating up an old Black Dude, the accompanying video goes viral and the man who will be known as Bad Ass is born. 

To be honest with you, Vega beating those skinheads didn’t have all that much to do with what’s going to happen in this movie, it was just a launching point and at times gave other people in this movie something to make fun of.  The movie is actually about Vega’s ‘Nam buddy Klondike (Harrison Page) who has moved into his home with him, and Klondike giving Frank a flash drive to secure.  This is followed by Frank telling Klondike how much he loves him and how he’s his only friend and blah, blah, blah.  What he really said is ‘You will be dying now Klondike… Goodbye’.

Sure enough, some thugs want that drive that Klondike gave Frank, they kill Klondike which limits his ability to tell them where it is, Frank wants the crime solved, learns that the police in Los Angeles don’t actually attempt to solve murders that involve brown people, and now he has to take matters in his own lethal hands.

Now Frank turns into the Hispanic Sherlock Holmes, deducing stuff, but he has also made the acquaintance of his impossibly pretty next door neighbor Amber (Joyful Drake) and her profane young son Martin (John Duffy).  Amber is being routinely abused by her husband, which Frank will not allow to continue, and it looks like Amber might be sweet on Frank.  Because what Krazy Hot Chick wouldn’t want sixty a five year old dude who drinks too much, is poorly groomed, owns one powder blue suit, and sells hot dogs for a living?  It’s a perfect match.

Regardless, priority number one is finding Klondike’s killer, a conspiracy which goes all the way to the top of the rotten Los Angeles municipality.  Something to do with a land grab, the mayor (Ron Perlman) and a street thug named Panther (Dutton).  An awesome Greyhound bus chase and a fist fight between 120 years worth of old dude shall ensue.

So I liked ‘Bad Ass’ and all, but what I really would’ve liked is a movie with just a little more focus.  It looked liked that director Moss was going the way of the gritty Old Dude Revenge Crime Thriller, say something along the lines of what Michael Caine pulled off so brilliantly in ‘Harry Brown’, but then it started leaning a little more towards the genre of comedy, then the comedy started to lean a little towards the genre of parody.  Then it turned into a love story, which was almost parody personified considering who was involved in this love story, then as the movie came to its conclusion it became a Lethal Weapon-esque action thriller.  Wildly Erratic, Wildly Inconsistent, which all added up to mildly entertaining. 

But like I mentioned earlier, Frank Vega had to have been written with Danny Trejo in mind because the part fits him so perfectly.  Frank Vega is old and slow and wrinkled and cranky but still not somebody you’d want to mess with.  Just like I’m sure the real live Danny Trejo is like.  And while this movie was jumping all over the freaking place, we are thankful for Frank Vega who was consistent throughout, be it comedy, parody, or Lethal Weapon.  Charles S. Dutton, however, might’ve been a little miscast as a jumpsuit wearing senior citizen street thug named Panther… maybe just a little miscast, but then this is where the parody part comes in.  And director Craig Moss has made a couple of parodies in his spoofing of Twilight and ‘The 41 Year Old Virgin who Knocked up Sarah Marshall and Felt Super Bad About it’.  Not to denigrate what Mr. Moss did with his movie, but it watching Mr. Dutton in this movie did have me thinking what could’ve been if he’d dropped the pants suit and jumped in the director’s chair, considering this is the guy that helmed arguably the hardest, most depressing, most nihilistic mini-series ever in ‘The Corner’.  Still have nightmares about that.  ‘Bad Ass’ probably would’ve had almost no comedy and everybody would’ve left the show miserable, which would’ve been awesome.

But that’s neither here nor there.  We did find ‘Bad Ass’ to be entertaining, at least to some degree, though I left with the feeling that something that could’ve been devastatingly awesome fell into the cracks under the kitchen table.

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