The Underrated: The Crank Series

I'm going to get kind of fanboy-ish, but it's with good reason.

In 2006, I was introduced to Crank. For those who don't know, the film series revolves around, essentially, Jason Statham as a hitman (because JASON FRIGGIN' STATHAM) named Chev Chelios doing the following and more:
  • popping pills
  • getting head while driving and having sex in public
  • getting shocked by defibrillators to the point he starts flying
  • beating the beejeezus out of people and 
  • getting adrenaline rushes unknown to most mortal men 
This is all to make sure his heart doesn't stop (so he can go and murderize the folks who tried to kill him in the first place). He's Iron Man. Except he doesn't have the billionaire snarkiness and instead of nuclear fission keeping his heart pumping, it's sheer unadulterated electricity and adrenaline.

See what I mean?

It's probably the most over-the-top action movie I've ever seen that wasn't an anime. It's kind of like Run Lola Run had a baby by The Transporter who's raised by Simon the DiggerChelios is pretty much an indestructible badass who seems ripped out of your favorite video game (this is especially since the film itself plays like a video game, a la RLR). Said indestructible badass goes around doing the insanity mentioned above and, while he has to be an adrenaline junkie to survive, he seems to have some fun with it. This is all while, ya know, he's randomly pulling infinite feats out of thin air (sometimes quite literally).

Sounds like a meth-induced clusterfuck, right?

But, guess what? It works and works well. It's equal parts MAYUNNNNNN!!!! parody and actual bad-ass action, taking what we know and love about movie badasses, turning it on its head while playing it for outlandish laughs, but still giving the audience a believable story (within the confines of the films' universe). It takes the Gunbuster/Diebuster/Grand Theft Auto approach (it was done pre-TTGL) of making the impossible possible through sheer willpower--and lots of guns and explosions.

I mean, in the first film's climax, Chelios, heart damaged and ramped up on every sort of adrenaline boost known to humanity, kills folks, has an air fight with the man who ordered him to be poisoned, kills said man while gun-fu'ing in midair, calls his girlfriend while falling through the Los Angeles skyline, leaves his girlfriend a message, finally collides with the concrete...and still ends living through it.

Yeah. So, if you're looking for an over-the-top action film that pulls no punches, you can't go wrong with the Crank series. Underneath the MAYUNNNNNN!!!! element, at its heart (pun intended), it has some pretty smart ideas that reconstruct the action movie badass trope while still deconstructing it. If you need any more reason to watch it, it features Jason Statham punching shit and driving cars (since, ya know, THE TRANSPORTER and such).

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