Crank 2: A Film Ahead of Jason Statham’s Time

My comedy career began officially in June 2003 when I stepped on stage at the Takoma Station Tavern in Washington D.C. for their Monday open mic.  However, my comedy career really began in 1991 when my impression of Jean-Claude Van Damme in the movie Double Impact made me a big hit with my friends (quick synopsis of the film – Van Damme played twins separated at birth, with”such different personalities” as JCVD put it in a behind the scenes interview, but who both learned karate).

Van Damme was my favorite movie star from the years 1990-1995 (from when I saw Bloodsport until Timecop and all the films in between).  His films were mild successes, but he basically became a joke like many action stars not named Governor Schwarzenegger.  It was not until this Fall that he was able to intentionally and intelligently capitalize on his status with a funny, but moderately moving film (“JCVD”).

Well today I hope there is a 6th grader entertaining  his classmates with a Jason Statham impression.  This guy has literally taken the career of Jean-Claude Van Damme.  I have wondered (on this site, and verbally) how Statham has sustained his career.  Then I saw a preview for Crank 2 and was intrigued.  It looked ridiculous, but entertaining.  But that still did not explain Statham’s 2 franchises (3 Transporters and counting, plus 2 Cranks) and other flops (some movie about prisoners in car races, some dumb movie where he plays some ancient knight), especially since he had to have spent all his Italian Job money by now, so he can be financing his own projects.  In addition to that my old boss at the Bronx DA’s office had recommended Crank to me.

My old boss had a bad history recommending films to me.  One was The Boondock Saints, which I absolutely hated.  The other one was Norbit (I was in Columbus, Ohio with 7 hours to kill before a show – I would have been better off cleaning the Mall toilets with my tongue than watching that movie).  So when he told me Crank was good I greeted it with a roll of the eyes.

But last week I watched Crank and found it entertaining.  It is somewhere between action and parody and was entertaining enough for me to venture to Crank 2 today (and I had a free ticket to the theater).

I must say – reallly enjoyable movie.   Had me laughing a lot because the film has moved even closer to parody and if you want to go, not to watch film or even a technically “good” movie, but just to have fun, then see this movie.

Although the similarities between Van Damme and Statham are even more evident after Crank 2 (Statham has 4-5 references to his character’s large penis in the 2 Cranks and Van Damme has a reference in no less than 3 of his films to his character’s large member – see “The Idiot From Brussels” track on Racial Chameleon, my first CD).  But Statham’s films have not been as successful as even the moderate-to-low bar that Van Damme’s career set.  So the question must be asked:  Why does Jason Statham still have a thriving film career?  One answer is that Lion’s Gate films appear to be willing to produce any film.  But I think the answer is that Statham has decided (possibly) to do what it took JCVD almost 20 years to do – realize that the pure action star is almost dead as a serious franchise (the Arnolds, Stallones, etc. are sort of done), so he pre-empted the trend and made the joke his own, while still having some of the classic action features.  I don’t know if he will make many more movies, but I am pretty sure I would be in for a good laugh if Crank 3 comes out.