Lionsgate // 2004 // 95 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // September 24th, 2004
It's Roadhouse meets House Party.
Hmm, an urban action movie with lots of guns and throbbing hip-hop music, starring two rappers. This is new.
...and it is! Refreshingly so. More on that later.
Our movie begins with our sneering lead, Joshua Pope (Busta Rhymes), opening fire in a warehouse with dually-wielded handguns in slow-motion and mowing down all sorts of bad guys. We find out, however, that there is plenty of story preceding this point; Wyclef Jean is here to narrate for us, which he does by reading cue cards in an excruciatingly noticeable fashion.
Pope arrives in the small Alabama town he used to call home after hearing the news that his father has died. A former Green Beret with a permanent scowl affixed to his face, Pope is a man adrift. From his dad he inherits an old hotel, a Cadillac, and $250K to build himself a life. But standing in the way of his goals are the corrupt sheriff and his squad of dirtbag cops, living high off of extorting local businesses.
After an audacious commando raid on the hotel, Pope blasts a handful of these cops and realizes that he really needs to bring considerable backup with him. He turns to his old friend Duncan (Xzibit) and his crew of mercenaries. Together, Pope and Duncan team up to boot the sheriff out of town.
But now there's a power vacuum, and Duncan and his cronies are more than eager to fill it. Faster than you can say $#%*, things are worse than ever as the new force of corruption reigns.
Pope realizes he must now rid the town of the goons he himself brought. And guess what? There's shooting!
My expectations for this movie were lower than...I don't know, what's a really low thing? A hole? A sneaker? A sneaker in a hole? Regardless, I was prepared for a 90-minute onslaught on my eyes and brain cells. However, I have to admit that I was surprised, and even marginally entertained, by Full Clip.
On the outside, the flick looks just like the parade of crappy urban thrillers that have preceded it. (I think I may have the market cornered on reviewing crappy urban thrillers.) But Full Clip, while certainly not high art, does succeed in providing a welcome change to the genre of the crappy urban thriller.
This is accomplished by sidestepping the predominant sinkhole most of these flicks fall into. Basically, they take themselves too frickin' seriously. There may be some inadvertent laughs to be had at the expense of these super-low-budget gangster flicks, but everything else is absolutely humorless.
Not so with Full Clip. The filmmakers -- sporting monosyllabic names for the most part -- opted for a lighter, more amusing tone. Busta Rhymes, although pretty much on cruise control throughout the film, provides some enjoyable deadpan delivery, and his supporting cast is refreshingly quirky. Full Clip also boasts appearances by Saturday Night Live's Ellen Cleghorne (that career sure evaporated fast) and Bubba Smith, who appears to be on a steady diet of Toyotas. Even the guy who played Zeus in No Holds Barred is present and accounted for!
Though Xzibit held his own, I had hoped that the star's natural charm (so evident in his MTV reality series Pimp My Ride) would bleed into the character. But instead he chose to play Duncan as a by-the-numbers bad-ass. Yawn.
The film also delivered some pretty nifty style, blending in comic book transitions that add some much-needed uniqueness to the genre. The final sequence between Pope and Duncan culminates in a pretty cool scene.
Despite these bits, you can't ignore the blatant lack of originality present in the movie. The plotlines are borrowed from lots of other drifter-turned-rebel fare. But did I mention Bubba Smith was in it?
Technically, the film isn't hard on the eyes. The widescreen presentation is clear, and the colors are soft and earthy. A stereo mix is a bummer, and seems to give preference to the blasting rap soundtrack over anything else. As for extras -- the disc is shooting blanks with some disposable trailers.
Not a great movie, but by far the best of its kind that I've seen. There are many fates worse than spending some time with Full Clip.
Not guilty in the context of these low-budget action flicks. In the bigger scheme of things...well, let's quit while we're ahead, okay?
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Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 95 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Rated R