Cinema Epoch // 2009 // 81 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // December 8th, 2009
It will take more than guts to survive the day.
This black comedy shoot'em up features violence, bloodshed, and a home-made disemboweling. Worth a look?
Slam-Bang tells the story of a hapless IT professional named George (Roland Gaspar) who finds himself trapped in an awful, no-win situation. A gangster has targeted him to retrieve some sensitive computer data and, to ensure George delivers, there's a life at stake: George's girlfriend.
This threat sets off a harrowing day-long misadventure where George is bouncing around from seedy location to seedy location, fending off assassins, stabbing attempts, geysers of blood blasting into his face, and ultimately carving out a USB flash drive from a dead man's guts.
The reach of Quentin Tarantino apparently extends into South Africa. The result is a decent little thriller that mixes healthy shots of bloodletting with a comic touch.
Writer/director Mark Lebenon infuses his effort with juice from the get-go, taking us to the final events before flashing back 30 hours earlier. From that point on, it's a rocket train forward, as George begins his wild and woolly journey. The predicaments pile up, as the runtime unspools and the scenarios increase in their stakes. To Lebenon's credit, as crazy as things can get (see: disembowelment, impromptu), it never seems like Slam-Bang overdoes things just for the sake of shock or titillation. Besides the shoestring gut surgery, the violence never struck me as gratuitous.
Part of that is due to the lighter tone that permeates the production. Now, we're not talking a Doodlebops-esque tone here, but Slam-Bang isn't a nihilistic downer. Again, you can see the Tarantino influences at work with the black comedy (as espoused nicely by Verdict-comrade Bill Gibron in his essay accompanying the bonus features), but truthfully you need that kind of touch, when the story is so out there.
Lastly, a shout out to Roland Gaspar, the engine behind the insanity. His character is most definitely in over his head and freaks out with each successive cluster-F he encounters. But he has to do what he has to do to save his girlfriend, and if that means succumbing to a gangster's colon-prying fingers, so be it. It's a great, manic performance.
The DVD is lean, fronted by solid technical features (1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, and 5.1 surround) and supplemented by a photo gallery and Bill's essay.
For anyone interested in something frantic and cool, this import comes with a robust recommendation.
Not Guilty. This one has guts.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Cinema Epoch
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 81 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Photo Gallery