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MemFlix Pardons Stone Cold’s THE CONDEMNED!!

Hey, everyone. ”Moriarty” here. Please be big stupid fun. Please? Memflix, who’s been contributing reviews to us for a little while now, seems to think it’s actually better than just big stupid fun. Check it out.

Memflix here once again with a look at The Condemned, which opens April 27th. The WWE produced this film which stars wrestler Steve “Stone Cold” Austin. I walked into the screener expecting the worst. The WWE has produced some pretty merit-less films. I was expecting dumb fun, a few cool fight scenes, and horrible writing. I was blown away to find a socially relevant, well-choreographed action film. Ten convicted killers are thrown together on an island. It is a mix of No Escape, Surviving the Game, Battle Royale, and plenty of others. The ten were on death row in foreign countries. A media mogul, not unlike a certain Survivor creator, pays of prison wardens to get these men and women to compete in his televised contest. He and his crew have wired the island with cameras and audio equipment. The 10 have 30 hours to be the last one standing. The winner gets freedom and cash. The goal of the game is simple, don’t get killed and kill as many people as possible. Alliances are made and people are betrayed. The show is broadcast on the internet. The audience pays 49.95. For that, they can see murder up close and personal. The main character is played by Austin, who (of course) isn’t what he seems. He isn’t the murderer he is made out to be. All he wants to do is go home and not kill anyone in the process. As you can imagine his last goal isn’t fulfilled. The other 9 consist of a married couple, a gigantic behemoth of a man, 2 African Americans, a Japanese kung-fu nut job, and a mercenary psychopath played by Vinnie Jones. There are four main forces in the film. There’s the Control Room, where the mogul and his crew spy on the contestants, the FBI, who are (sort of) trying to find the island, and Austin ’s family back home. I bring this up because I was surprised at how this set-up didn’t back fire and become a convoluted mess. The story and structure works. There are 3 main villains in the movie. One is the egotistical media mogul with a God complex. The second is Vinnie Jones who seems to be the only convict enjoying all of this and the third is the most surprising of them all, but I’ll get into that later. As far as acting goes, there are no surprises. It isn’t horrible and it isn’t great. It’s just what you’d expect. Steve Austin is a badass. Vinnie Jones plays Vinnie Jones. A character that stands out is the show’s operations manager. He is played by character actor, Rick Hoffman. He was the American in Hostel, and pops up on television. He has a natural ability to be sleazy and hilarious in the same breathe. He is allowed to do more here other than his usual ‘asshole’ role. There is a certain innate, relatable, humanistic quality he brings, that tries to remind the audience of how horrible this situation truly is. I mentioned social relevance earlier. That might have turned an eyebrow or too, especially since I didn’t say ‘tries to be socially relevant.’ Folks, it has been said before and I’m going to say it again- one day there will be an actual show like this. It won’t be stylized. There won’t be badasses. There won’t be cool looking explosions. It will be nasty, depraved, horrifying and people will watch. They will flock to see the real deal. People’s appetite for violence is growing. People want to see torture. They want to see depravity. Why? Don’t know for sure. Survivor’s ratings are plummeting. The audience no longer thinks malnutrition, constipation, and cuts and bruises are entertaining. They want something more. They want something like this. People want to watch hardcore shit happening to real people. The Condemned wasn’t trying to be realistic. It is an action film first and a social commentary second. It doesn’t go overboard with the second. It isn’t exactly subtle, but it doesn’t club you over the head either. SPOILER!- Vinnie Jones and the Martial Arts nut job make an alliance. They make it their mission to hunt down the others, kill them, and enjoy it. They come upon the married couple. They tie up the man and rape and kill the wife in front of him. This happens in the first half of the movie and is the point where you realize can see a message unfolding. The rape is mostly off screen, and the emphasis is on the husband’s misery as he watches his beloved be ravaged to death. The second focus of this piece is the Control Room. The mogul is very pleased that this is being streamed to millions of computer screens. There are a few crew members upset, including Hoffman, but when they realize that they are the ones responsible, they see these people for who they are; human beings. They may be convicted killers, but that doesn’t change the fact that they are one of them. They eat. They breathe. They shit. They are humans. The way the reaction is played with the husband and the crew watching, is captivating and disturbing (a WWE film that captivates!?! WTF!). The third villain I mentioned earlier is ‘the condemned.’ The name of the movie is the name of the show. However, toward the end, a Katie Couric type is on CNN and unveils who the real Condemned are. We are the condemned. The audience is the reason the show exists. Blame must be bestowed on the mogul, but he was just meeting a demand. The audience put those people on the island. The fact that a WWE film had a message and delivered it well, is shocking. Still, I think because of this, the film will be ripped to pieces by critics. “How dare a corporation like WWE attempt a message movie! They aim at the lowest common denominator of people. We snub our nose at them and their audience! Low Lives in every sense of the expression!” None of this will be said of course. It will be hidden between the lines, but it will be out there. I don’t enjoy watching wrestling. That doesn’t mean I hate it or devalue it as a form of entertainment. The men and women of professional wrestling are highly trained, skillful performers and it is damn dangerous! The entire thing is choreographed with a few exceptions. One of the subtler messages of the film is a defense of entertainment. The Condemned is an argument to the WWE detractors. “You think we’re bad? Look to Survivor and the shows that REALLY prey on people’s dark desires.” The people who watch wrestling shouldn’t be looked down on either. Who are we, who is anyone to judge? OK, but did the action work? Yes. The contestants have ankle bracelets rigged with explosives. You pull a pin and boom! It’s a messed up version of tag football. There are plenty of people exploding and lots of fights, some of which are wrestling inspired, others are primal defense tactics-the kind of shit anyone would do if someone were trying to kill you. Some might say the violence is a direct contradiction to the message, but it goes hand-in-hand. The action is over-the-top and stylized in a conscious effort to tell the audience that this isn’t real. It is in fact, a fictional movie. The dialogue is crappy at times and effective at others. The Condemned is not a great movie. It won’t have a space reserved next to your Kubrick collection, but these days, if a movie delivers on a promise and winds up giving you just a little of the unexpected, it is a solid film that deserves recognition. I looked on imdb to find out information on the filmmakers, but their credits are lackluster. However, Scott Wiper, who co-wrote and directed The Condemned has a talent that cannot be denied. There won’t be a steady middle ground on this one. Because of the message and it’s transcendence from the genre, it will either be hated or loved. No doubt, I will be accused of being a ‘plant.’ All I can do is tell you I am from Memphis, TN and no one pays me to write. Memphis is a quite a bit away from the influences of Hollywood . But, by uttering the word, you are assuming that this is a bad film. The Condemned shouldn’t be judged before hand. It deserves the benefit of the doubt.
Readers Talkback
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  • April 13, 2007, 5:38 p.m. CST


    by Err


  • April 13, 2007, 5:38 p.m. CST

    Insert 1st here

    by Lando Griffin


  • April 13, 2007, 5:46 p.m. CST

    The part about people

    by cyberskunk

    The part about people wanting to see nastiness reminded of televised news. Which in turn reminds me of ELO. I think I'll sing. "Here is the newwwws every hour upon the hour...."

  • April 13, 2007, 5:52 p.m. CST

    I'd rather call ya a jobber...

    by Red43jes

    LOL. I hope this is better than the last couple of movies the WWE has churned out. -Red43jes

  • April 13, 2007, 5:55 p.m. CST


    by Err

    JR should call the matches.

  • April 13, 2007, 5:56 p.m. CST

    I am going to see this movie.

    by Duty

    Why? Cos Stone Cold said so! Bruahaha!! Realy.. I like the trailer and it could be a great ride.... And it is gonna be a hell of a lot better then Ghost Rider!! Plus: Stone Cold is a BADASS!!!

  • April 13, 2007, 6:04 p.m. CST


    by 12-GAUGE

    Details, please.

  • April 13, 2007, 6:08 p.m. CST

    I wonder if people need violence because...

    by Fabulous Freak

    ...because we live in an age where we insulate ourselves from the horrors of the natural world. Hell, we don't even take care of our elderly anymore, we send them off to homes so that we dont have to face the truth of mortality. We continue to protect ourselves and our children from natures cruelties by helmeting their heads, and padding every corner in the house. There is probably some function in our brains that craves exposure to hardcore shit to keep us on our toes, to be competitive and agressive and aware of what happens to those who fall behind. We dont get it in life, so we seek it in entertainment.

  • April 13, 2007, 6:09 p.m. CST


    by Err

    Look at the carnage!

  • April 13, 2007, 6:10 p.m. CST

    Spoiler: McMahon gets his head shaved in this one.

    by Err

    By Donald Trump

  • April 13, 2007, 6:14 p.m. CST

    Spoiler: TNA invades the island.

    by Err

    They then tell WWE to stop copying them.

  • April 13, 2007, 6:17 p.m. CST

    I took care of my dying mother

    by cyberskunk

    Or tried to. My sister came over on some days and hospice helped out by visiting the house near the end.

  • April 13, 2007, 6:30 p.m. CST

    THE MARINE kicked ass!!!

    by godoffireinhell

    It was easily the best action movie since BAD BOYS 2. Had just the right combination of paying homage to 80ies action movies and being ironic at times but also working the same way an 80ies action movie used to work. Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that I hope THE CONDEMNED will work just as well or better.

  • April 13, 2007, 7:13 p.m. CST

    The Marine was crap. John Cena is crap.

    by Err

    But no one is surprised by that.

  • April 13, 2007, 7:14 p.m. CST

    THE MARINE was a fuckin' great action flick!!!

    by where_are_quints_hobbit_set_reports

    If this is nearly as good I'll be happy... and although this lacks Robert Patrick (truly amazing in MARINE, one of the all-time great action movie villains) I will go in with high hopes.

  • April 13, 2007, 7:16 p.m. CST

    Err, eat a fuckin' load

    by where_are_quints_hobbit_set_reports

    If you didn't dig THE MARINE you're a fucking douchebag.t

  • April 13, 2007, 7:17 p.m. CST

    Have to agree

    by greyspecter

    with the sentiment that we are becoming increasingly desensetized. Perhaps not as quickly as some might think, but it's still a problem. Look at Ahnold's The Running Man, total exploitation TV, and now with Grindhouse that despicable genre will regain popularity. What's next, snuff films? I don't watch web vids of beheadings, nor do I watch horror films. What's the appeal? Never saw it. By the way, godoffireinhell, the fact that you regard BB2 as a 'great action flim' in fact discourages me to take any expressed opinion seriously. It's right up there with the Charlies' Angels films and MI2:Mission Impossibler as total crapfests. Watch Tombstone or Die Hard or Layer Cake if you want to see some quality action. No offense taken, though.

  • April 13, 2007, 7:23 p.m. CST

    John Cena SUCKS ASS. However, Steve Austin KICKS ASS.

    by GibsonUSA Returns

    Cena is a disgrace to follow Austin, and thats the bottom line. I hope this makes more than The Marine.

  • April 13, 2007, 7:24 p.m. CST

    anyone who claims we're getting desensitized

    by where_are_quints_hobbit_set_reports

    will be waterboarded <p> wait did I already say that? I'm tweaking. Someone criticize THE MARINE, I dare you!!!p

  • April 13, 2007, 7:24 p.m. CST

    Say what you will about Cena

    by where_are_quints_hobbit_set_reports

    but THE MARINE was a great flick

  • April 13, 2007, 8:32 p.m. CST

    I liked it better the first time...

    by thenatureboy

    when it was call The Running Man. Maybe they got Jesse "The Body" Ventura to reprise his role as Captain Freedom.

  • April 13, 2007, 8:55 p.m. CST


    by Pound Sand

    "You're been voted off the island, brother"

  • April 13, 2007, 9:55 p.m. CST

    I thought Jesse

    by greyspecter

    "the mind is a terrible thing to waste" Ventura was in Predator, not Running Man. I know the villain from Live and Let Die was in it. Soooo 80s

  • April 13, 2007, 10:38 p.m. CST

    Someone poke Vern, we got a job for him...

    by Alonzo Mosely

  • April 13, 2007, 10:59 p.m. CST

    Oh Christ, i love the JR jokes

    by Charlie Murphy

    as well as the "hogan should play austin" bit. good stuff, guys.

  • April 14, 2007, 1:04 a.m. CST

    Jordada del muerto

    by oducerproducer

    Just wait for HHH & Lashberg. BTW SCSA>Cena

  • April 14, 2007, 3:01 a.m. CST

    Hey yo...

    by LordEnigma

    Memflix, much dap to a Memphis brother contributing to the site. Good job. I figured this movie has a bit more going on with it from the pieces they have been interspercing in between matches on RAW. Again, the WWE, pulling off a film like this is shocking. Apparently, letting Hollywood people make MOVIES and not writer WRESTLING. ACTUALLY WORKS FOR THE COMPANY! GO FIGURE!

  • April 14, 2007, 3:24 a.m. CST

    Hey Greyspecter...

    by ViolentN8

    Ventura was in both Predator AND Running Man. Captain Freedom in Running man and 'A Sexual TeeRanISoreAss Rex' in Predator. Outtie.

  • April 14, 2007, 3:31 a.m. CST

    I thought the woman just got ATTEMPTED to get raped?

    by BitterMan23

    Well this changes my entire opinion of the film!<br> <br> Actually i finally saw a trailer for this tonight (attached to Disturbia, strangely, considering all of the R rated movies i see that have that fucking PG13 Invisible trailer, which fellow PG13 Disturbia did not). It looks like that movie Mean Guns (with Lambert and Ice-T) just in a jungle.

  • April 14, 2007, 5:15 a.m. CST

    I liked The Marine

    by disfigurehead

    Robert Patrick was a great villain.

  • April 14, 2007, 8:51 a.m. CST

    What is a WW2 Island?Who else got attempted to get rape

    by INWOsuxRED

    The last review was so much funnier than this one, and that is what really matters.

  • April 14, 2007, 10:36 a.m. CST


    by Zath_ras

    That's what I clean windows with.

  • April 14, 2007, 10:38 a.m. CST


    by Mr Incredible

    All this movie is missing is Arnold. Someone mentioned THE MARINE; If you want a good laugh at a 80's wanna-be action film, this is it.

  • April 14, 2007, 10:47 a.m. CST

    Some dead raped deer also get attempted to get raped.

    by Pound Sand

    It's totally meta.

  • April 14, 2007, 9:39 p.m. CST

    All the leaked VENOM Pics So Far!!!

    by LittleDudes

  • April 15, 2007, 8:07 a.m. CST

    The Stone Cold Steve Austin comic should

    by Toby___Wong

    have been made into a movie. That was awesome stuff. I wonder if I will like this movie but I will give it a try for sure.

  • April 15, 2007, 3:02 p.m. CST

    The worst thing about The Marine

    by DirkD13"

    Was The Marine, everything else was damned good. The (utterly ludicrous) car chase was top-notch, the explosions were mighty purty and Robert Patrick was genius "don't look at my face, I have insecurity issues....and a gun".

  • April 15, 2007, 5:35 p.m. CST

    "They eat. They breathe. They shit."

    by DarthStallion

    Truer words were never spoken.

  • April 15, 2007, 8:14 p.m. CST

    I welcome the day...

    by pdennett316

    when Big Brother contestants have to fight to the death, in fact, I fucking demand it. Also, for the reviewer, we will NEVER see a show like this one day, unless they make murder legal. Plus, I'm sure some hippies would start a petition.

  • April 16, 2007, 3:51 a.m. CST


    by DerLanghaarige

    Being last is much cooler than being first muahahaha