Wrong Side Of Town David DeFalco

Wrong Side Of Town David DeFalco
Rob Van Dam is one beefy guy. In Wrong Side of Town, the WWE wrestler-turned-action hero's biceps and pectorals are so ludicrously gigantic that I hoped one of the villains would stick a pin to his nipple on the off chance he might deflate. The possibility of all that beef crushing a few innocent bystanders is just too harrowing. I've often felt that a formulaic, no-brainer action movie lives or dies on the charisma of its star, and yet having seen about a million stiff, monotonous performances by fighters-turned-actors in about a million bad direct-to-video action movies over the last few months, I've begun to wonder what exactly counts for charisma. Folks, your nearby Blockbuster's new release wall is packed with terrible potboilers like Wrong Side of Town, featuring strained, awkward performances by actors like Rob Van Dam, and their continued popularity amongst a certain type of video store customer makes me question the very foundations of "good" and "bad." For example, I generally believe that charisma is derived from a unique attitude or acting style, but Wrong Side of Town believes it comes from quantity of muscle mass. After all, Van Dam's character (Bobby Kalinowsky) is given only the most generic personality and back-story (he's an ex-marine war hero, a popular occupation among direct-to-video leads). So, look: if all you want in an action star is a guy who has a lot of muscles, see Wrong Side of Town. Perhaps you also won't mind that the plot ― Bobby accidentally kills a young punk during the attempted rape of his wife, and the punk's powerful older brother calls out a hit on him ― is completely predictable, with every twist arriving with the same ritualistic familiarity as the Stations of the Cross (gee, do you think the bad guys might kidnap Van Dam's daughter)? Still, there's a great paper just waiting to be written by some enterprising cinema studies student on the film's take on race. The major black character, Clay (Edrick Browne), dresses in upper-middle-class clothing and lectures a black gangster, "We've come a long way from slavery to Obama. You need to stop using the n-word." However, he's also depicted as timid and weak, especially compared to Van Dam. Question for students: to what extent, if any, is Wrong Side of Town an assimilationist text? DVD extras are limited to a trailer and a few short, useless interviews. None, alas, with ex-wrestler writer/director "Demon" Dave DeFalco, a man who has been known to challenge critics to wrestling matches. Uh-oh. (E1)