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Wednesday, April 25, 2007 10:02 pm

Schlockapalooza

The Condemned taps exploitation’s roots

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Untitled Document The Condemned Running time 1:40 Rated R Parkway Pointe

Four new movies are opening nationwide this week, but you wouldn’t know it if you were to scan your newspaper for reviews. Seems that the studios behind Next, The Invisible, and Kickin’ It Old Skool decided, the less you know, the better. What’s ironic is that the one film shown to critics makes no bones about the fact that it’s total schlock. The Condemned is nothing more than B-movie fare suffused with liberal and regular doses of glorious gore. Not for the squeamish, The Condemned is targeted at teenage boys and movie geeks, all of whom will be satisfied with the film’s constant action and broad-strokes storytelling.
In this futuristic tale, media mogul Ian Breckel (Robert Mammone) is set on delivering an extravaganza. Combining the old with the new, he proposes to bring back gladiator fighting in which 10 contestants will fight to the death on a remote island, with the contest broadcast over the Internet. Who would be foolish enough to enter such a contest? Why, condemned criminals plucked from the worst international prisons, of course, all of whom we meet in rapid succession. One of the combatants, Jack Conrad (Steve Austin), has been imprisoned unjustly and he just happens to have a pretty wife who frets over his every move. Although the film is utterly predictable, the fact that it embraces its exploitation roots does make it entertaining. Any film that contains an allusion to Escape from New York (bombs attached to the warriors’ legs to ensure that they don’t escape the island) is on the right track, as far as I’m concerned. The action is solid, the pace is blistering, and director Scott Wiper takes some nice potshots at the media, reality programming, and right-wing politics. Don’t get me wrong; The Condemned doesn’t make you think (heaven forbid!), but it does take the time to point out that it’s smarter than the run-of-the-mill actioner. 
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