Judge Gordon Sullivan is now an internet meme.
You're never too old to kick ass.
A common complaint from those over forty these days is that youth is driving the logic of too many markets. A movie isn't successful until its audience consists of a certain number of twelve-to-twenty-five-year-olds, an album has to be packaged to appeal to those under eighteen, and book sales are sinking because young people don't ride. The flip side of this is that age is no longer valued—it's the hip, new guy who gets hired in a job, not the old hand with experience and a little gray in his beard. In terms of sociology, this is no doubt true, as older professionals find it more and more difficult to keep their jobs in the face of younger competitors.
Looking at our movies, though, I've also seen a weird trend that seems to run alongside—or maybe even counter to—this movement: our action stars are increasingly over fifty. Forget guys who started out as action stars and have grayed into the role (Clint Eastwood or Bruce Willis), think of the guys who came to action-star status late in life: Liam Neeson is sixty-one, Samuel L. Jackson is sixty-five, and Danny Trejo is sixty-nine. Still, viewers can't seem to get enough of these guys kick ass and taking names, as evidenced by the first sequel to the 2012 flick Bad Ass. This time out we've got twice the bad ass, so much so that we've got to call the film Bad Ass 2: Bad Asses. It's a fun romp if you want to see Danny Trejo and Danny Glover teach some young punks how it's done.
In Bad Ass, Danny Trejo played Frank, a Vietnam vet who lost a friend and had to track down his killer, kicking ass along the way. Now, he owns a boxing gym, and when his star pupil is murdered, he uncovers the young man's second life as a drug dealer. Unable to leave well enough alone, Frank enlists the aid of a local convenience store owner (Danny Glover, Lethal Weapon) to help track down the people responsible.
I don't want to build up Bad Ass 2: Bad Asses (Blu-ray) into more than it is. It was directed by the guy who brought us 30 Nights of Paranormal Activity with the Devil Inside the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Bad Ass was essentially a 90-minute joke that started out of a meme: Wouldn't it be great to see Danny Trejo playing a dude kicking ass (which itself isn't so different from Hobo with a Shotgun from the year prior). Throw in a beard because the internet thinks it's awesome to sport a thick beard, and you've pretty much got the reason that Bad Ass exists. Luckily catering to the internet crowd (and making the film available to stream) actually earned a bit of cash, at least enough to make a follow-up.
Luckily, Bad Asses ditches many of the more silly ideas that animated the first film and instead focuses on the core values of the franchise: older dudes kicking ass. Danny Trejo returns, beard in tow, and teams up with Danny Glover for some predictable mayhem. Though the lone vigilante genre is rife with excellent examples to crib from, Bad Ass largely ignored them in favor of taking its own path to getting Danny Trejo kicking ass. Bad Asses, though, is unafraid to crib from the best. Mixing in a number of cinematic touchstones (the Lethal Weapon movies most obvious among them), Bad Asses hobbles along on a shoestring of a plot.
Really, it's all about two things: action and charisma. Danny Trejo is reliable, bringing the same gravitas he brings to every role, while Glover is comfortable inhabiting the same well-worn "I'm too old for this shit" attitude. Together, though, the pair have a surprising amount of chemistry. Despite all the jokes the film makes at the expense of the pair (like, for instance, their need to use the facilities frequently), they maintain their dignity and come off as a pair of guys who genuinely get along.
The action is standard DTV stuff—Glover and Trejo are agile for their age, but there's still only so much that can be done with stunt doubles and CGI. The action is set up predictably, as both the difficulty and number of bad guys increases as the pair make their way towards the ultimate villain of the film. It's not going to be a big hit with action junkies, but the film doesn't promise more than it can deliver on the violence front.
Bad Ass 2: Bad Asses (Blu-ray) is also decent. Shot digitally, the film's 1.78:1/1080p AVC-encoded transfer is generally sharp and pleasing. We get to see every line in Trejo's face and every hair in his beard. Colors pop appropriately, and black levels stay consistent and deep. The film can look a bit on the cheap side at some points, but this transfer is strong. The DTS-HD 5.1 surround track is a bit more ho-hum. Though dialogue is audible and clear, with surrounds getting some use, the overall track feels flat. Gunshots sound like they're from a block away, and the use of the surrounds sometimes feels arbitrary.
Extras start with a 10-minute making of featurette that's pretty standard but hits the highlights. There's also an Ultraviolet digital copy of the film included as well.
Bad Ass 2: Bad Asses (Blu-ray) is a worthy follow-up for those who enjoyed Danny Trejo kicking ass in Bad Ass, and in many ways, it's better than its predecessor. Though perhaps unnecessary, those who want to see two old dudes fight it out with drug dealers will find something to love here.
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