Thursday, June 16, 2011

"Hell Ride" should've been a freewheeling good time but it's not



Hell Ride (2008) 
83 min., rated R.
Grade: C -

Produced but not written or directed by Quentin Tarantino, "Hell Ride" is a self-aware throwback to the drive-in grindhouse biker flicks of yesteryear that walks like Tarantino but doesn't quite talk like Tarantino. It's a nice thought, but Quentin probably won't be sending flowers. Writer-director Larry Bishop, son of Rat Pack comic Joey and the biker-movie darling of the '60s and '70s, also leads the pack as a goateed Mickey Rourke-Harvey Keitel who gets all the chicks. Way to go, Larry. Thirty-two years ago, Pistolero (Bishop), grizzled leader of the Victors biker gang, lost his honey, Cherokee, to a rival gang, the 666ers, who slit her throat and set her on fire. Now, after the same grisly fate of one of his compadres, Pistolero, his old pal The Gent (Michael Madsen), and newcomer Comanche (Eric Balfour) are out to open up a can of whoop-ass and settle the score on mad-dog Billy Wings (Vinnie Jones) and the crew of 666ers. 

"Hell Ride" has bikes, beer, and booty, but little of the go-for-broke energy to give it the kick it needs. There is plenty of cheerfully gratutious female nudity and orgies. And Bishop's dirty talk with hellcat-in-heat Nada (Leonor Varela) is a playfully sexy hoot. But these hogs do a lot of yacking, and it's witlessly written, awkwardly delivered, and never as cool as it thinks it is. Bishop projects a gruff machismo as Pistolero to make him sleeping with women half his age somewhat credible. Madsen seems to be having a good time, confidently strutting around in a tux jacket. "Easy Rider" vet Dennis Hopper chews the scenery accordingly as Eddie Zero ("The brotherhood of bikers is bullshit!"), and David Carradine has so little to do as businessman Deuce that his only screen time consists of him being tied-up in a chair. 

Suffering from dull stretches and incoherent, anticlimactic storytelling, Bishop's baby never feels like anything is at stake and it's hard to care about anyone or anything on screen. Unfortunately, "Hell Ride" is more of a forgettable bummer than campy fun, without much to get your motor running. At least it's no "Wild Hogs 2." 

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