Saturday, September 6, 2008

Review - Hell Ride

Pistolero, Commanche and The Gent are the lead members of the bike gang the Victors and have some deadly unfinished business with a rival gang called the Six Six Sixers. This rivalry goes back all the way to 1976 and will leave one gang utterly decimated by the end of the journey. Along the way the Victors have their fair share of the three B's; Bikes, Bitches and Beers while trying to uncover the mysteries that surround the bitter rivalry.

In a definate throwback to the biker films of the 70's Larry Bishop writes, directs and stars in Hell Ride. The viloence throughout the film is strong as are the performances by Michael Madsen, Larry Bishop, Eric Balfour, Dennis Hopper, and David Carradine. Unfortunately a majority of the dialogue of Hell Ride is so bad it deters from the likability. Overall, it is a gritty and viloent tale that has a simple plot but, ultimately has a hard time spinning the story.

Hell Ride is presented by Quentin Tarantino and feels very close in style to the phenominal director, however Hell Ride fails to excel in the same way that most of QT's films have. Bishop sloppily uses the same method of story telling that QT has become famous for which makes the story very hard to follow in points and keeps the viewer guessing just what is going on. In Bishop's defense, most of the choppy editing and blurred storytelling seems intentional, but it leaves the viewer through the first two acts trying to play catch up with the rest of the story.

Michael Madsen, Larry Bishop and Eric Balfour all deliver good performances, but ultimately I wanted more. Madsen plays the Gent, who is a perfect shot, a hard drinker and a even harder rider. His character is the most likable in Hell Ride and delivers some great comic relief along the way. Bishop who plays Pistolero, the leader of the Victors, is very coy about just what he has his biker gang doing. Bishop's character seems to be the harden vet of the gang and does a decent job carrying the film. Balfour plays Commanche, who is the youngest of the bunch and is also a very quite character who is moving up fast in the ranks of the Victors, his character is pivotal to the story and overall delivers a caliber performance. In cameo apperances, David Carradine and Dennis Hoppper really do dynamic jobs of bringing back the nostaglia of the old biker films. Hopper even wears the very same jacket he wore in Easy Rider in a few scenes.

Hell Ride doesn't stray away from sex, violence, and alcohol that usually surrounds biker gangs, instead in revels in it. It seems every ten to fifteen minutes there is another vicious death or another naked female trying to get laid by one of the bikers. Both rival gangs spend sometime in various strip clubs womanizing and drinking in between looking for the other gang. Hell Ride also doesn't stray away from the bikes in the film. Both rival gangs and the women have amazing bikes and Bishop does a good job of displaying and shooting the bikes in all the various riding sequences.

Overall although I like Hell Ride, the first two acts are so hard to follow it really took away from my enjoyment of the film. The plot is ultimately a very basic revenge story that Bishop tried to spruce up unsuccessfully. The film is too short at only 83 minutes and felt like it needed more sustance. Hell Ride by no means, is something that I wouldn't watch again, and might actually enjoy more now with full understanding of the tale. Ultimately, Hell Ride is a film that has a few things that are very entertaining but, leaves the viewer simply wanting more.