My love…splendors of the moment.
The year was 1979. John S. Rad, newly arrived from Iran, arrived on the shores of America with a dream: to make an epic crime action movie. Little did he know, making movies was expensive and he would consistently run out of money trying to piece together his opus. As such, his film, Dangerous Men, would go through fits and starts of production, carrying through three decades before finally being unleashed on an unsuspecting world in 2005.
The plot? No clue. I defy you to find something else pressed to an optical disc that is as incoherent as Dangerous Men. And I’m not using “incoherent” in the snarky internet vernacular. This is the literal implementation of the word, as in the storyline makes 0.0 sense.
There are hints of a kernel of potentially cohesive storytelling, but the decades-long development hell and overall ineptitude of John S. Rad buried any whiff of narrative logic in an avalanche of brain-stabbing insanity.
Here’s that plot: sometime in the 1970s, while hanging around a beach, a woman and her dorky boyfriend are accosted by some bikers. One thing leads to another and the boyfriend ends up dead, sending his lover into a furious mission of vengeance, seeking out the killers and, eventually, any other man that might be nursing a boner. Meanwhile, in the ’90s the woman’s brother hopes to intervene in his sister’s crime spree by appealing to the local cops. The brother and the cops eventually end up at the mansion of an albino crime-lord named “Black Pepper,” who’s too busy ogling a belly dancer to notice. The film ends with a freeze frame of three people who were introduced less than 30 minutes ago.
That’s it. That’s what passes as a story, on which is draped an amazing amount of insanity. The short of it: Dangerous Men has forced its way into the top five of my favorite earnest, terrible action movies. It is a vaunted list, one that includes Gymkata, Psycho Kickboxer, Ninja III: The Domination, Miami Connection and Killing American Style. Congratulations John S. Rad — you deserve it.
This movie is a raucous good time, played completely straight (when it was playing to movie houses filled with howling, derisive, laughter, the story goes that John Rad was flummoxed, noting his crime saga was not, in fact, a comedy) and sporting some of the very worst of anything ever seen in a film Acting? Horrendous. Music? Earsplitting. Direction? Laughably incompetent. Eroticism? Stomach-churning.
Dangerous Men is the real deal, a mind-bending pastiche of dimwitted awfulness that never ceases to befuddle; you might think you know what’s coming, what a functioning human brain might conceivably concoct after the next scene break, but instead you’re watching a fat bald naked man licking the kneecaps of a woman who’s got a knife hidden in her butt-crack.
Drafthouse serves up an excellent Dangerous Men (Blu-ray) package, kicking off with a solid technical treatment (1.85:1/1080p HD transfer and the original Dolby 2.0 Mono track) and rolling into a fun selection of extras: a 16-page booklet, interview with John S. Rad, commentary with the authors of Destroy All Movies, a great documentary, Rad’s appearance on a public access show, an interview with the director of photography, several trailers, plus DVD and digital copies of the film.
It is an affront to all good (and bad) art ever created. Not Guilty.