Hell Ride (2008): Biker Film Homage


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Written and directed by Larry Bishop (son of Joey) Hell Ride is an apparent homage to the Roger Corman Biker films of the 60’s and 70’s. The “original” biker films were cheap, loud and full of bad acting and great moments. *who can forget a mortally wounded Bruce Dern in The Wild Angels asking as he dies, “Does anybody have a straight cigarette?”*

Unfortunately Bishop’s homage, while it looks good, does not contain any “great” moments like the old 70’s films. You can call Roger Corman many things, but corny wouldn’t be one of them.

Hell Ride has a good cast:

Larry Bishop
Michael Madsen
Vinnie Jones
David Carradine
Dennis HopperEric Balfour

The film looks like a part of the “Grindhouse” flicks that Tarantino and Rodriguez put out in 2007 and appropriately enough the idea came about when Bishop was working with Tarantino on Kill Bill 2. While the idea might have been a brilliant one, the actual execution left a lot to be desired.

I’ll start by saying what I think was wrong with the film. Firstly, all the leads seemed to be doing their best Clint Eastwood impression. It was all clenched teeth and guttural whispering of lines; even the females. Everyone, that is, except Michael Madsen who played his character like…well, Michael Madsen. If ever there was an actor who could be considered a “one-trick-pony” it is Madsen. Don’t get me wrong, I like Michael, but there is a reason why he doesn’t work that much. There are only so many films that need a Michael Madsen character.

The bikes all looked great, except for the chopper that Madsen rode, it looked like it belonged to another biker and he’d borrowed it. It just did not fit.

Madsen riding his big brothers bike.
Madsen riding his big brothers bike.

The other “problem with the film was the dialogue. It tried too hard to be “cute” and amusing. The blame for that lies squarely on the shoulders of Larry Bishop. It’s obvious that his father (who was known as a “comedians comedian”) was a comedy writer and comic. Where these type of lines, “It’s a business. Speaking of business. How’s business” (Spoken between David Carradine and Bishop) reeked of last generation “smart ass” humour that did not fit in the realm of the biker world.

The locations were fine and in keeping with the Southern California setting that the original biker films favoured. But that was about the only thing the film had going for it.

Eric Balfour as Comanche/Bix/Sonny/Son was pretty much wasted in his part. I’ve already groused about Madsen, so we won’t mention him. David Carradine was seen too little. Vinnie Jones was miscast and seen too much. Dennis Hopper was, as usual, great; Hopper cut his teeth on the Biker Genre a’ la Easy Rider. Larry Bishop? Well, suffice to say, if he hadn’t written the damn thing and gotten Quentin to produce it and had Bruce Willis drop out as the lead, he wouldn’t have had to “star” in the film at all.

And that would have been a good thing.

Speaking of good thing (s): the score was boss. It fit the mood and the feeling of the old biker films, but, a good score does not a good movie make.

The final verdict? Crass, crude, creative-not, cinematic chaos. Poorly acted, poorly edited, and poorly received (by me). If you want to re-live the madness that was 60’s and 70’s biker films, watch the real deal, check out the originals and don’t waste your time on this one.

2 out of 5 stars and that’s only because of Hopper and Carradine’s presence.

The original, watch this instead of a crappy homage film. Just sayin'.
The original, watch this instead of a crappy homage film. Just sayin’.

Author: Mike's Film Talk

Former Actor, Former Writer, Former Journalist, USAF Veteran, http://MikesFilmTalk.com Former Member Nevada Film Critics Society

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