Topic: Champion Road Review (Spoilers)
Champion Road is a direct to video movie released in 2008 by Maverick Entertainment. This is the first film ever directed by R.L. Scott. This is also the first acting gig that the star, Brad James, ever got. Both would return for the sequel: "Champion Road: Arena". Both of them seem to have started careers with this flick that are heading in the right direction, though I can't say that either of them really knocked it out of the park with this movie. This flick feels like more of a bunt.
The plot is simple enough. There's a guy who got in trouble with the law one time a number of years ago which means that he is forever fucked and destined to be a poor construction worker for the rest of his life. His girlfriend is mildly pretty, and they like each other and stuff. His sister works for the FBI.
One day, Merser (our protagonist) is at home and his sister comes over and she's like "Yo, I hooked you up with an interview for the FBI to become a Special Agent!" and Mercer is like "Oh shit, yo, that means I might be able to have a decent life and quit construction working and support my mildly pretty girlfriend who I'm about to propose to and stuff!" and the sister is all "Oh shit, bro! Yays for you!"
Then Merser goes for a jog, and he gets a phone call. You don't hear the other end of the conversation, so you have to guess what the other person is saying. This resulted in a mildly confusing scene, because the call starts out one way and then heads down a more serious path. This is the conversation, along with what I assume the other person was saying.
Caller: "Hi John! It's me!" (Note that I honestly don't know who called him up, here...)
Merser: "Oh hey! What's up?"
Caller: "Not much, man. What're you doin' right now?"
Merser: "You know, man. Just tryin' to get my jog on." (this isn't that far off from the actual line of dialogue)
Caller: "Your girlfriend is seriously ill or something"
Caller: "Your girlfriend has had some kind of accident or something"
Merser: "What... what happened!?"
Caller: "Something bad happened, bro."
Merser: "Where are you now!?"
Caller: "... Somewhere..."
Merser: "Alright, stay there I'll be right over!"
Caller: "Should we maybe meet at the hospit-" >CLICK<
They have several sentences of normal phonecall conversation before the caller decides to tell him that something bad happened to his girlfriend. It would have also been nice if the film had bothered to tell us who it was that was calling, and what exactly had happened. I thought she had been hit by a car or something.
She has the cancer.
They don't tell you what kind or anything. Just "cancer". Cancer of the something or whatever. And she needs some kind of surgery or she's gonna die. The doctor sent her home with some pain pills and basically told them that she was going to die in a matter of days. The hospice nurse tells Merser to make sure her last few days are comfortable and happy, like she could die at any moment.
So they have a sad scene where Merser proposes to his dying girlfriend and they both cry happy/sad tears. Then Merser says that they both need to fight, and that he's gonna try to 'fix' her and get the money for the surgery and stuff. And she does the whole "I'm gonna die, forget about me" and he does the whole "My life is meaningless without you" thing. Very touching.
Then he goes and yells at people on the phone, in what eventually becomes an oddly comedic scene. He calls the insurance companies to try to get them to pay for the surgery, then he calls various religious organizations in an attempt to get charity, and then he calls the KKK. He calls the KKK in an attempt to get money to pay for surgery for his cancer-riddled girlfriend. Complete with redneck impression and a joke about voting for John McCain and a 'joke' where a black man says "white power".
So none of that works, and he decides to get help from his best friend, who's into some underground shit. His friend gets him into underground fighting, but he's not good enough to fight. So his friend tells him about an old hermit guy who knows kung-fu, and Merser goes to train with this kung-fu hermit. Meanwhile, his friend gets killed by the guy who was going to hire him as a fighter but didn't when the guy wasn't good enough. I don't know why they killed Merser's friend. Wasting their time, maybe?
So the kung-fu guy trains Merser (one of the training bits involved Merser punching a phonebook that was duct taped to a tree), and then Merser is awesome. He can now fight and junk, and he gets into the underground fighting thing, even though he knows that the guy he's fighting for is the guy who had his best friend killed for no apparent reason.
Merser's FBI sister is upset that Merser didn't go to the interview that she set up for him to be in the FBI, so she's mad about that and tells him that she's mad at him about that. You pad that movie out, sister.
So Merser fights a few people in random public places, even though at the beginning of the film they said that they were going to hold all of the fights at this one building that the Underground Fighting Boss guy had just bought. There are no crowds or cameras or anything. He just randomly comes across a few people who, for no reason at all, start fighting him. Apparently this makes him famous and stuff.
FBI Sister also just happens to be investigating the series of brutal murders involving young kids being beaten to death out in the middle of public areas in broad daylight with no witnesses and shit. She's pretty sure that this underground fighting rig is behind it all, and they apparently know all of the people involved and how the operation runs, but they aren't apparently doing anything to stop it. Just bitching about all the murders going on and wishing they could just shoot the Underground Fighting Boss guy in the face. She goes to her captain's house and he tells her that Merser is the name of the new fighter who is probably the one going around murdering the other fighters. She does her most subtle impression of Dramatic Chipmunk and says she'll look into it.
Merser is about to become #1, and Underground Fighting Boss guy tells him that he needs to lose his next fight, but that he'll send him to Las Vegas to be the #1 fighter there or something. Merser has to think about it or maybe he agrees or maybe he doesn't agree. I honestly forgot what happened during this pivotal scene of the movie that happens at night in some parking lot by some dumpsters. I think he said he'd think about it.
#1 fighter guy decides to make sure he throws the fight by kidnapping Merser's sick girlfriend. He kidnaps a woman who may die at any moment from the cancer and throws her into a car.
So then #1 guy and Merser fight, and Merser mostly just beats the living fuck out of him, and then they're on the ground and kinda grappling and then Merser kinda loosely puts him into a choke hold, and then someone breaks some popcicle sticks off-camera and the guy is dead somehow. And Mercer does what he's done after every single fight that has happened. He stands up, stands over the fallen corpse of his enemy, then puts up his hoodie in faux slow-motion, turns and walks away slowly as though he's the coolest motherfucker on the planet.
And then the end of the movie happens, and Merser has to fight off a bunch of guys who are protecting Underground Fighter Boss guy, who then pulls a gun on Cancer Girlfriend and is about to shoot Merser. Suddenly, FBI Sister shows up and shoots the guy and he falls down and dies. Then everyone hugs and stuff, and then they walk over to the street, where some random person shows up and they apparently know him well enough to hug him after they get into the car.
The epilogue is one of Merser's other friends being held at gunpoint. He calls Merser and asks if he has any of the money left. He apparently got a dufflebag of money from Underground Fighting Boss guy's car or something that allowed him to pay for the cancer surgery to save Cancer Girlfriend... or should I say Cancer Fiance? He tells Merser to come to California with some money, and then someone punches the friend and the call ends. Merser goes to the closet, puts on his hoodie and walks out the door, while Cancer Fiance (who is now pregnant, btw) asks him what the fuck is going on with him. He slams the door in her face and the credits roll.
Now there are a couple of things I haven't already mentioned. First, is that there is narration sporadically throughout the movie. Sometimes the narration is literally explaining what just happened in a scene, and what it (obviously) means for the plot in case you weren't paying any attention. Secondly, there are the title cards. Did a couple of hours pass between this scene and the last scene? Well, we need a title card so the audience can understand that, right?
[One Hour Later], [Three Hours Later], [The Next Morning], [Later That Night].
Those actually pop up. Sometimes I'm not sure if they were just fucking with me or not. There's a part where a guy says "come back in an hour", the screen fades, a title card pops up that reads "One Hour Later", and then the scene continues. But it's not really a comedy thing. They just do shit like that in this movie. Seriously. Like, for serious real. They really seriously were being serious about that title card for some reason.
Also, again, this was shot on shiteo. I think all of these Maverick Entertainment flicks are the result of some guy handing people who had never made a film before $5,000 and saying "yo, make a movie, buy all the equipment you need with this cash, and your fee is that you can keep whatever's left over." This could literally be the case with this film, since it's the first film on many of the resume's of the people involved with this thing. They also claim that the budget was $50K, but there's no fucking way. Not unless the guys decided to keep about $48K of it for themselves.
On the positive side of things, tho, I genuinely think that some of the fighters in this flick could have some decent careers ahead of them. The main character himself seems to be good at making a fight look halfway decent. Unfortunately the fights are mostly shot like shit. These sequences seem to have been fairly well planned out, but for whatever reason they decided to do very short takes of the sequences and cut them all together from different angles, so it's sometimes hard to understand what's happening. A couple of the fights aren't terribly shot, tho, and are genuinely enjoyable.
The acting is bad. Sometimes it's funny-bad. Sometimes it's not. About 50/50 on that. FBI Sister seems to the the best/worst one for comedy purposes. Her deliveries are so fucking flat and her face is so... strained... it's hard not to laugh at her performance.
Here's the trailer:
And, hey hey hey! They actually released the full flick on Youtube! If you feel like actually watching this turd, here it is!
MMM, get a load of that production logo. That's the closest thing to a special effect the film has. I honestly thought it was some low-rent Dolby Digital sound logo or something at first, but apparently that's the director's production company. I'm interested to catch some of the flicks he's been making lately, tho. Some of them have budgets that are seven figures. I'd like to see what this dude could do with a million bucks now that he's got about a dozen various movies and shorts under his belt.