No One Lives [Blu-Ray] Ryuhei Kitamura

No One Lives [Blu-Ray] Ryuhei Kitamura
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WWE makes a bid to step beyond their niche of awful wrestlers-as-action hero vanity projects and into the grindhouse circuit with No One Lives. In an effort to lend credibility and a smidgeon of talent to this vicious, half-baked attempt to franchise a charismatic psychopath, the studio brought in bombastic gore fetishist Ryuhei Kitamura (Midnight Meat Train) to direct and Luke Evans (Immortals) to play the lead, leaving the obligatory wrestling star (Brodus Clay) a disposable minion role. Oz veteran Lee Tergesen is also on hand, as the brains behind a gang of thugs who kidnap the wrong man. His ability to actually emote helps elevate the picture ever so slightly above the absolute dross the company is known for. For context: a mysterious man known only as Driver (Evans) and his intimate lady friend are harassed at a bar then later kidnapped. This not-so-brilliant plan is the rogue job by the jackass responsible for fouling up a heist earlier in the day attempting to make amends by robbing what he thinks are easy marks. Said jackass, Flyn (Derek Magyar), brings the couple back to the gang's hideout to forcibly coax out some PIN numbers. When the slightly more rational gang members find that their captives have a bound and gagged woman in the trunk of their car, they realize that something might be amiss. This suspicion is confirmed when the terrified woman claims to be the victim of a twisted game of psychological torment and manipulation, painting her captor as an unstoppable, sadistic maniac for the ages. Luke Evans dives into the role with teeth bared, but doesn't display much emotional gradation between "stone face" and "crazy eyes." Adelaide Clemens fares a little better as Emma, the only decent human being in the movie. She does a reasonable job playing a tenacious torture victim given a shot at escaping the hell of Driver's attempts to mould her into his image via shoddily conceived, pseudo-philosophical mind games. Writer David Lawrence Cohen is pretty proud of his "brilliant" idea to make the hero a psycho killer (I guess he hasn't heard of Dexter or a whole litany of anti-heroes) and displays a fondness for tooting his own horn on the disc's sole special feature, a decent "Making Of" that makes no bones about the practical gore effects being the film's main draw. It might be the crown jewel of the WWE Studio brand, but No One Lives is just a grab-bag of wall-splattering shock tactics designed to give horrific acts of graphic violence a sense of arbitrary coolness. Tarantino would likely love it. (Anchor Bay)