Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

So here’s my scenario. It’s late and but I’m not sleepy so I pull out this movie ‘Magic Man’ and slip it in the DVD player and climb in the bed for some quality Straight to DVD movie watching. There’s really no way around this but ‘Magic Man’ is pretty damn dull, but I’m trudging through it because it’s not a long movie, at least time wise, but as it is getting closer to the end my eye lids are getting heavier and heavier. Now I’m trying to force myself to stay awake because I really don’t want to have to pick this movie up again the next day. Must… Stay… Awa…zzzzzzzz. At first I was upset at my weakness of fortitude to keep my eyelids open, surely a sign of old age, and I had to finish the movie the next day. After finishing the movie I am glad that I didn’t complete it the night before because I would’ve been so pissed off that I probably wouldn’t have gotten to sleep at all that night.

Tatiana (Estelle Raskin), Elena (Christina Vidal) and Vera (Sarah Jayne Jensen) are a trio of hotties off for a weekend holiday in Las Vegas. Tatiana is actually in town for a larger purpose being that she’s received a correspondence that famed magician Krell Darius (Billy Zane) might have some info on the death of her mother, a magicians assistant, some twenty plus years earlier. The girls catch the Darius show with Elena getting a note to Darius that she has some urgent business to discuss with the magic man, but that will have to wait until the next day because now it’s off to the hotel for a good nights rest. Except for homegirl Elena. No, Elena wants to experience the Las Vegas night. Elena probably should’ve just said she wanted to experience being dead.

Elena’s death brings in crack Vegas cops Orloff (Alexander Nevsky) and Simpson (Robert Davi) who quite honestly don’t do much of anything cop-wise except drink coffee. Tatiana’s urged her surviving homegirl Vera, to go home while she gets to the bottom of their friends murder but Vera’s doesn’t want to leave her buddy behind. Or more accurately Vera wanted to experience death as well. Recognize that the only reasons these girls are in Vegas in the first place is to help their friend Tatiana out, and after seeing what their concern for their friend has gotten them… Tatiana is now in the top spot as the worst friend ever.

Still, despite the dead friends, there is a mystery to solve. Is Krell Darius killing these women? Or perhaps it’s the creepy magician Rudolph Treadwell (Andrew Divoff) who was performing the trick that killed Tatiana’s mother so many years ago. Or maybe it’s Darius’ freaky assistant Samantha (Bai Ling)… or perhaps it’s… nobody actually. Maybe these women just died from spontaneous murder syndrome. Seriously. If you’re looking for a nice tidy solution after suffering through ninety or so minutes of benign tedium then you better look elsewhere because ‘Magic Man’ is giving you NOTHING.

‘Magic Man’ is a movie that showed some promise because it does have one of the better casts for a B-movie with such luminaries as Billy Zane, Andrew Divoff, Robert Davi, Richard Tyson, Bai Ling and Armand Assante who doesn’t do anything except look pissed off in the two scenes that he shows up in, but it is Armand Assante. While these actors are long time solid veterans of the craft, none of them are the stars of this movie. Russian bodybuilder Alexander Nevsky is the male lead, and while Mr. Nevsky is one big mofo he’s not much of an actor in addition to not having a firm grip on the English language as of yet. The female lead, Estelle Rankin, speaks English perfectly fine but she can’t act either, at least not yet. I’m sure in time the woman will figure this acting thing out, she just didn’t figure it out in time to carry this movie.

So we have two leads who really can’t act all that well attempting to carry a movie that is largely dialog driven because there’s hardly any action going on in this thing. Thus in the absence of decent acting and a severe lack of action what we really need is a nice tight story with a strong narrative and an engaging mystery in this alleged ‘thriller’ to keep us interested. Not happening. Almost every plot point brought up in this movie is sketchy, just as every character is sketchy. Plot points are brought up not to ever be revisited again… but at least we have the conclusion. At least, after suffering through this movie and all its faults, we will finally know whodunit.

SPOILERS TO FOLLOW: Actually no, you will not find out whodunit. ‘Magic Man’ has the nerve to have an open ended conclusion. What the hell did we do to these filmmakers that they hate us so much to do this to us? It is possible that this movie is written so cleverly that all of the clues and answers are there right in front of my face and I’m just too brain-dead to decipher them, but I’m going to go out on a limb here as say that this ain’t the case. I don’t have the time or the patience to try to figure this shit out. Imagine watching the worst movie you’ve ever seen, a movie that you’ve shown enough respect to sit all the way through only to have the movie cut off like two minutes before it ends. And then find out they did this to us on purpose. We call that some bullshit where I come from.

You know it’s not my place to tell you what or what not to watch but uh… you might not want to watch this one. Seriously. Just a suggestion.

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