Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Bounty Hunters 2: Hardball

What I Knew Going In / What I Was Expecting

With a title like Bounty Hunters, there's not a lot of room for surprise.  It's kinda like Spy Kids from last week, only for a much older and probably much stupider crowd.

I'm sorry, that was unnecessarily judgmental.  What I mean is, something that puts "BOUNTY HUNTERS" right out there front and center seems like it's not going to be particularly subtle or graceful.

I was expecting something totally brainless and cheap that involves a couple of hard-ass bounty hunters who track down ruthless baddies and possibly kill them.  I also have a hard time believing that there's much I need to know from Bounty Hunters 1 to keep up with the plot.

The Plot Summary

Jersey Bellini (Michael Dudikoff) and his partner / sidekick / love interest(?) B.B. (Lisa Howard) are bounty hunters.  They're kinda presented as an "opposites attract" couple where Bellini is a loose cannon goofball and B.B. is the straight-and-narrow, serious one. But both of them seem incompetent at everything except murdering people, so who the fuck knows.

Anyway, they track down one of their targets right before said target is about to engage in a jewelry shop robbery.  Bellini traps the target - and his accomplice - in his van and takes them off to the police, but in the process, leaves B.B. to fend for herself while interrupting the aforementioned robbery.  This dickishness prompts B.B. to break up with Bellini.

I should actually put "break up" in quotes because I don't honestly know if they're together romantically.  They show virtually no affection for one another and have no chemistry except as pseudo-cop buddies, but every now and again there's a line thrown out about how they own things together.  So either they're lovers or they're just really good friends.

Unfortunately for Bellini, his last bust proves to be problematic - the mafia has now put a hit out on him, and he's being stalked by various baddies.  In short succession they blow up his house and then try to kill both him and B.B. at her hotel when he goes to convince her to take him back.  Then they track him down to his houseboat and try to kill him there, too.

Sick of being hunted, Bellini and B.B. go on the offensive and track the mafioso down to their hideout, then kill like two dozen people and the movie ends.  I think they get back together again, but who gives a shit.

The Stuff I Liked

The pyrotechnics crew was on the ball.  I can't say that too many of the explosions were justified, but when they happened, they were well-shot and purty.

That might be it.  I guess Michael Dudikoff can kick well?  I'm not sure if that counts as me liking it.

The Stuff I Didn't Like

In order to keep myself from sounding like the biggest asshole ever, I should probably begin by saying that I didn't think most of this movie was bad.  Just really, really dull.

It appears to be a straight-to-video sequel to what was probably itself a straight-to-video action dud, and that means the cast and crew were working with limited resources to create as much of a paint-by-the-numbers B-movie as possible.  You have to give them a break.  Nobody making this could have been under the pretense that they were doing something amazing, so the end product is actually kind of well put together in that respect.

But holy crap, is this not fun to watch.

I guess the first problem is Jersey Bellini.  Aside from his stupid name, you have to deal with the fact that Michael Dudikoff's interpretation of "wacky goofball who gets into scrapes" plays out as "whiny douchebag who pouts a lot."  Bellini is one of the most irritating protagonists ever committed to film - he quite literally moans when things don't go his way.

Suppose a crook punches him, as one does in the parking lot of a police station.  He turns to the nearest cop and says, in the high-pitched nasal timbre of Wallace Shawn, "Aw, c'mon, guys!  C'mon!  It hurts!  Can't ya arrest him?"  And only then, after your brain is searing from the sting of his Complaint Stick, does he proceed to do something vaguely action-like and punch the crook back.  This is pretty much the model that every scene in the movie follows.

In fact, if I had to boil the movie down into its basic components, it would go like this:

5% snark from B.B.
2% hostility from B.B.
10% action scenes
2% mafia guys being vaguely threatening
80.5% Bellini whining
0.5% gratuitous nudity

You'll note the next highest percentage on that list is the action scenes, and those are... not good.  Most of them are just kind of your boring stock action cliches.  Bellini punches a guy, he falls backward over a table, Bellini makes a quip while the next bad guy comes up from behind, then Bellini turns around just in time to disarm him, etc.

But there are a select few action scenes that manage to be so clumsy and inept they become borderline transcendent.  There's one in particular that takes place next to the pool at the hotel where B.B. is staying to get away from Bellini.  I wouldn't ordinarily want to get too detailed about this, but it's so poorly made it ended up being the highlight of the movie for me - I just could not stop laughing.

I don't know if words can do it justice, but here goes.

First of all, the blocking and framing are so confusing that it becomes almost impossible to count how many bad guys are actually fighting with Bellini.  I'm pretty sure there are only three in total: two at first, and then a surprise third who appears out of nowhere.  But the way the first two guys are shot doesn't make sense - anytime one of them has been knocked down, the camera cuts in such a way that he would have to have been standing just off screen in order to enter and punch Bellini again.  It's kind of like how in a video game, there's a billion versions of the same enemy, but they will be standing juuuust outside the frame until you nudge over and the computer spawns them.

And speaking of computers spawning enemies - when the third guy enters, there is no possible place for him to join the scene based on the geography we are given.  He seems to come from the camera's perspective, but when there's a reverse angle on him, there's nothing he could have been hiding behind - so what does that mean?  He was just standing there the whole time watching his two buddies get the crap beaten out of them?

At two different times in the fight, a baddie gets punched backward and into the pool, which is totally fine - but both times, the shot of the guy going into the water is played up like it's the cap on the scene, and Bellini laughs triumphantly.  If it didn't actually end the fight the first time, why would he be smugly laughing about it the second time?

No less than three times during the scene, a character uses one of of the poolside tables as a bulletproof shield.  And then, as if Bellini decided the bulletproof tables weren't ridiculous enough, he picks up an umbrella and uses that as a shield, bravely running straight into one of the baddies who either can't penetrate the fabric or just never gets the idea to shoot at the umbrella dead center.

And finally, when that last baddie comes into the scene, he does so by shooting a gun out of Bellini's hand, then walks up to Bellini with a big, dumb smile on his face and, instead of shooting him for real, just keeps smiling until he gets close enough for Bellini to disarm him.

The scene is so bad it ends up looking like a parody.

Would I Recommend It?

Nah, you don't need to see this.  Although if you're curious, maybe track down that pool scene.

What I Think the Prequel Was About

Bellini and B.B. are independent bounty hunters who are each down on their luck.  Separately from one another, they learn about a particularly high bounty on some drug runner who I'm going to call Menendez because I'm apparently racist.

One fateful night, Bellini and B.B. cross paths while trying to catch Menendez, but they end up stepping on each other's toes and Menendez gets away.  At first, Bellini and B.B. are angry with each other and have a series of competitive antics in which they keep screwing up, but then they decide to work together when they realize Menendez's evil colleagues are out to get them.

After teaming up to track down Menendez one last time, they catch him and split the bounty, then go out on their first date.  The movie ends with a freeze frame of Bellini's stunned face after he makes a stupid joke and B.B. throws coffee at him.

My Pitch for Another One

Based on the body count from this one, I can only assume that Bounty Hunters 3 would show Bellini and B.B. going on the run to evade multiple life sentences.  The subtitle would probably be something generic like "The Hunters Become the Hunted."

All I know is, if it doesn't end with the two of them having vicious, wild, ravenous sex while slopped with the blood of their enemies, then I don't know what their relationship is based on.

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