Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Woody, as played by Robert Cavanaugh in his directorial debut ‘Pimp’ is… well… a pimp. At least that’s what we are informed in this faux documentary taking place in London’s Soho district because Woody isn’t like any kind of pimp I’m familiar with. Woody has no jewelry, doesn’t seem to have any money, dresses mighty poorly, doesn’t have a car and quite honestly he doesn’t even really have a stable. Is this what being a pimp is like in London? If that’s the case you might as well get a regular job. Woody in fact is a low level employee working under the employ of master crime boss Stanley (Danny Dyer) with his job being the management of Stanley’s various female sex workers. It’s all very corporate like in structure with middle managers and whatnot. In fact through down sizing Woody has been given the additional task of ‘training’ these workers which he is not really fit to do.

So a lot of this movie is about following Woody around as he goes about doing his menial lower / middle management pimp duties

such as setting up the girls with prostitute or porno gigs, trying to get his girls to show up on time and being called on the carpet by his boss for his inability to effectively accomplish any of these menial tasks.

What has Woody’s boss in a particular row is his complete and total failure to get his new acquisition Bo (Gemma Chan) prepared to be a functional working earner for the organization. Apparently not everybody is cut for whoredom and this is where an ‘accomplished’ trainer, i.e., someone who doesn’t mind beating that ass on occasion, would come in handy and Woody simply isn’t going to do that. Plus he seems to falling for this fragile looking woman who has an appearance to that of a full grown china doll.

Ah but this movie isn’t really about Woody and his travels throughout Soho and being the worlds worst pimp because there’s a mystery on our hands. Somebody has sent Woody a DVD that looks suspiciously like a snuff movie featuring one of his workers that he thought had simply run off. Combine this unfortunate situation with the Chinese competition muscling in on Stanley’s operations, Stanley’s increased frustration with Woody’s gross incompetence and Bo turning up missing, maybe even being cast in the next snuff flick, Woody and his ever present film crew are a little up against it.

With ‘Pimp’ being his feature film debut, Robert Cavanaugh has created an odd little film that fluctuates from banal, to watchable, to actually becoming somewhat entertaining before finally settling in on turning into the completely ridiculous. For starters the entire fake documentary hook doesn’t really work that well since this film, for the most part, appears to be traditionally shot with the exception of a few hidden camera type scenes. Plus one would imagine that people largely involved in illegal activities probably wouldn’t take too kindly to a camera being pointed in their faces while they do these illegal activities, but these cats were more than happy to perform for the camera.

It does take a minute for the story to get started since we spent a good amount of time hanging out with Woody and getting the various characters tossed at us left and right, and while Woody was a patience trying bugger to start out this movie, he does kind of grow on you as the time passes on. But about the time we bring the ubiquitous Danny Dyer into the movie, doing that thing that Danny Dyer does in movies, coinciding with the introduction of the snuff DVD, ‘Pimp’ starts to gain a little traction. Plus quite a few perversions were being tossed our way making ‘Pimp’ a little subversive which is always good thing and also serves to heighten the interest factor. Or at least my interest factor. I also like the way the whole snuff film angle was brought along, almost casually, since nobody really believed it was real, but Woody would still show it to people curious about its legitimacy.

It is when ‘Pimp’ goes into full ‘Thriller’ mode that it falls of the tracks that the director had gone to such great lengths to get it on. Now Woody has gone from shitty pimp to master sleuth, action hero and rescuer of damsels in distress. Admittedly he’s not all that good at that either, but this sudden change chides with the flow of the character we’ve been spending all this time with. Toss in a twist ending that made absolutely no sense to me and now I don’t what to say about this little movie.

The effort was certainly there. There were some fine performances, Robert Cavanaugh was in practically every seen and carried the movie well but ‘Pimp’ is a movie that really could’ve benefited from a little more focus and a little less of the Magnum P.I. action hero shenanigans.

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