I picked this movie up for two reasons: the title and the name Richard Grieco. Grieco’s brief and decidedly non-illustrious career has involved playing cops and bad guys, and being described as “handsome” on the back of many a crappy video box. His own bio on the DVD for this movie states: “Often playing a renegade cop or robber, he was cast in the Fox network’s 21 Jump Street (TV 1988-89) and starred as Booker on “Booker” (TV 1989). Grieco successfully crossed over to film playing Bugsy Siegel in Mobsters (1991), and has worked constantly as a leading man, primarily in ‘B’ movies, since then.” If I were Grieco, I’d fire the publicist who decided being typecast as a heavy in B movies would be good for his career. Or maybe his abominable choice of scripts is just so bad, there’s no avoiding what he is: a washed-up ex-model with an ego of gold.
This DVD did contain one surprise, however. Roger Corman is given an extensive (11 pages!) bio above the three main actors (Grieco, Brigitte Bako, Greg Evigan). This despite the fact that his name is not mentioned anywhere in the credits — the movie was actually produced by two brothers by the name of Doerksen, and was directed by Gordon McLennan. Only the production company — New Concorde — betrays any connection to Corman. In Hollywood marketing, the name with the most draw is always given the top bio on the DVD … yet Corman’s name is deliberately omitted from the box. Did Roger Corman take his name off this movie? Or did the people who put together the case just not care?
Given the extreme unlikelihood of the former ever happening, I vote that the case was just thrown together. For starters, we have the obligatory rear view of a woman’s fishnet-clad legs holding a gun. Through her legs, we see Grieco doing his impression of Vincent from Beauty and the Beast in his Sunday best. And the plot description … well, I couldn’t sum it up any better. In fact, pregnant women and children under 48 inches tall should consult a doctor before reading past the video box description, as long and detailed analyses of boring movies can cause health problems.
When bad girl Macy (Bako) is double-crossed by her gangster boyfriend Frank (Grieco), it’s time for payback! Macy wants her share of their heist money, and God help anybody who gets in her way. Frank once left her for dead … now it’s HIS turn to Die! Die! Die!
So far, so bad. This appears to be your run-of-the-mill late night HBO flick, with guns and gangsters and women who can’t be bothered to wear much. But here’s where Jabootu steps in. One sure sign of the presence of Jabootu is that a movie already aspiring to be nothing more than crap can’t even follow through on its own promises. Fans of this B movie genre expect three things:
These are not hard criteria to deliver. It doesn’t take any talent, effort, or money to produce all three. Die! Die! Die! somehow manages to fail on all counts.
We begin with some rapid cuts from later in the movie while the principal actors get their names shown over rippling blue water. Why water? Maybe someone saw Dead Calm or something. The most notable thing here is that New Concorde Pictures isn’t mentioned at all. What the heck DID Corman have to do with this?
Our first real shot is of a redhead falling out of a junky white car with a silver briefcase. She manages to crawl about three feet away before the car explodes. This takes place, by the way, in the middle of a forest. Smokey the Bear is very angry with somebody right now. On the other hand, we discover later that this is a Canadian picture, and we all know Canada is willing to sacrifice anything — natural resources, tax dollars, actors’ reputations — to get bad movies made. Thank you, Canada.
The screen goes black, then helpfully informs us that through the magic of movie time travel, we are now “2 hours earlier.” Wow, and without even the help of a flex capacitor. We see Brigitte Bako in her underwear, looking at herself in the mirror with some intensity. Hey, does this mean nudity? No, she’s wearing a long shirt to cover her undergarments rather tastefully … the whole thing’s less stimulating than a Sears ad. Why is Bako in her underwear? We may never know, because we cut to…
Two dudes walking on a pedestrian bridge over a highway. One dude is Grieco. Here we get our first loving look at his haircut for this movie … a sort of flowing mullet job that makes him look like a cross between John Travolta in Pulp Fiction (no doubt the intended look) and Courteney Cox.
These walking dudes are evil. We know because Grieco smokes and his walking companion has slicked-back gray hair. Oh, and they both wear bitchin’ sunglasses. And slicked-back hair guy is carrying a silver briefcase. Where are they going? We may never know, because we cut to…
Bako putting on a red wig! Hey, that means…
Wait, back to the walking dudes. Now back to Bako. Walking dudes. Bako. Walking dudes. Bako (she’s smoking now). Walking dudes … and, phew, they finally managed to cross the pedestrian bridge. That was some ordeal. I don’t know about you, but the suspense has worn me out.
Back to Bako, who’s smoking in bed. She gets a phone call. The phone asks her if she’s ready. She’s tells the phone she is, and the next thing we know, she’s expertly stealing a car — lock shimmy, hot wire, the works. What’s notable is the old man sitting on the bench watching while she does this without raising a hand. He’s out of focus, but he’s there.
Editor Ken: Actually, it’s more mysterious than that. Bako is in the car, and the bench behind her is blurry but without doubt sans occupant. She bends over for a second, and when she comes back up, a guy is sitting on the bench. Continuity gaffe or proof of teleportation? You decide! And now back to our review…
Either this is a tough neighborhood where people are used to cars being stolen, or the director didn’t notice a townie wander into the shot. Why does Bako steal a car? We may never know, because we cut to…
Some cars parked next to each other by some big cement things. Seriously, that’s as descriptive as I can be. People get out of the cars … random people from the green one, and our walking dudes from the white one. Slick hair guy opens his silver briefcase to reveal frosted Lucky Charms … no, it’s money. He gives some money to the random guys while Grieco watches with an expression that says, “I’m a bad guy watching money being exchanged.” Only half the money is transferred. The rest must have been just in case they got hungry or the taxes were higher in Big Cement Thing County. Everyone involved looks around suspiciously, so that we don’t think this is a charitable donation to the Big Cement Thing Foundation. Why did the exchange take place? We may never know, because…
Bako’s driving her stolen car very quickly through a parking garage. How dangerous! She looks around suspiciously so that we don’t think she’s just finding a good parking spot. Why is she in the garage? We may never know, because…
A guy sits on a bench. Why does the guy sit on the bench? We may never know…
Walking dudes pull up to a hotel. Grieco grabs the duffle bag with half the money in it, and we get our first taste of real dialogue. We also find out Grieco’s name is Frank. I’m calling him Grieco anyway. So here’s the Oscar clip:
Slick Hair: Hey Frank. Want some free advice?
Grieco: What’s it going to cost me?
Slick Hair: Stay out of trouble tonight. This isn’t our town.
Grieco: Any town’s our town.
Slick Hair: Right. I’ll meet you in the morning … bright and early.
What have we learned? Well, Grieco’s name is Frank. These walking dudes are in another town. Grieco likes to sleep in. Why, will they leave any plot hole unsolved? Grieco enters the hotel lobby. Then he turns around to make sure Slick Hair is gone, and walks back out. That scamp! I just know he’s going to do something scampy now. What is it? We may never know, because we cut to…
The random guys’ green car parked somewhere else next to a black car. Random guy exchanges the silver briefcase for a much nicer leather one, and the two cars drive off. I think we’re supposed to assume the leather briefcase is full of drugs. Personally, I think it’s full of frosted Lucky Charms. In any case, the black car has the silver briefcase with half the money now. Why? Because…
Whoa! The dude who sat on the bench stood up! And crossed the street! Why? Because…
Whoa! Bako is still sitting in her car! Bench Guy peeks around the corner. The black car comes down an alleyway. Bench Guy waves at the camera. (Hello, Bench Guy!) Bako adjusts her seatbelt. Bench Guy keeps looking around the corner. Black car keeps driving. Bench Guy whistles at us. (Why, thank you, Bench Guy!) Bako looks up and guns it. Turns out the parking garage is next to the alley, and she gets out just in time to cause an accident. Ah, it all comes together.
Bako gets out and, er, improvises some lines about being upset over the accident. The two heavies in the black car look at each other, affirm that confronting this crazy bad actress couldn’t hurt, and get out. Bench Guy is nonchalantly leaning against a nearby wall. While the bald heavy is dealing with Bako through some bad improvisation of his own, Bench Guy sneaks around and shoots his partner with a silenced gun, then gets in the back seat. Now, I don’t know how sophisticated silencers are in Canada, but given the fact that Bench Guy fired his weapon a mere eight inches behind the bald heavy’s back, that must have been one loud improvised argument. On the other hand, we later discover that all guns are magically silent in the land of Canada.
Bald guy gets in, bald guy gets shot. Bench Guy grabs the silver briefcase and jumps into Bako’s stolen whip. She stares at the dead heavies in … some sort of emotional state. Bench Guy encourages her to leave the scene of the crime. “Go, go.” He says this in a sniveling sotto-voce. But Bako’s too … emotion filled to drive. Bench Guy starts to say “Go” again but gets cut off at “G-” … as the director loses interest and cuts to a wheat field.
Bako’s in the wheat field with Bench Guy and her stolen white car. She’s caressing the silver briefcase. Some expository dialogue reveals that Bako’s going to the Caymans to get married. Grieco pulls up in a blue car. (Stolen? Rented? Too many cars.) Bako and Grieco look at each other suspiciously, just in case we’re still wondering what their relationship is. Bench Guy gets in Grieco’s car with the silver briefcase. Then, finally, we see Bako turn on the five star smile, and we know Grieco’s the man she’s marrying. They kiss passionately, then Bako utters the fatal ironic words. “Our big score.” This leaves Grieco the opening to speak villainy: “Not as big as you thought. I’m going to miss you baby.” Then he whips her over the head with his belt. Boo! Hiss!
They put her in the stolen car with a plastic gasoline container attached to a stopwatch. Either it’s a bomb or a reminder to refuel the car when she wakes up. They also put the silver briefcase, now empty, in with her. Grieco uses his brute strength to put the car in neutral and nudge it off the road into an embankment. (It’s here that we get our first clear look at some license plates: Saskatchewan!) Pleased with his manly performance, he and Bench Guy drive off into the sunset.
Bako wakes up with 21 seconds to spare. She sees the stopwatch, and tries to get out (almost time to refuel the car, better hurry!), but the driver’s side door won’t open. Why? IITS. She crawls over the bomb to escape on the passenger side, pulling the briefcase with her. From here it’s just a replay of the movie’s opening footage — crawl, boom, blackout.
I was surprised at how short and succinct this movie was. There didn’t seem to be much of a point, but I will give it credit for tying everything together with minimal fuss or distractions. Some questions were left unanswered, such as who Slick Hair guy was, and why Greg Evigan’s name is in the credits. Still, only 20 minutes of my life were wasted, and … oh, no.
Our long teasing blackout ends, and Bako is in jail. We get a lot of quick “jail” shots: barbed wire, boredom, bull dyke guards, Bako sketching (?), bars. You know, stuff that starts with B. Finally, after an excruciating three seconds of this, Bako is set free. As a parting gift she gets a nice new outfit with really red shoes and a full shopping bag. The shopping bag particularly intrigued me; I didn’t know jails had gift shops. There’s absolutely no way to tell how long she was in jail. I’m guessing she was incarcerated for wearing that red wig … sentence: eight shots to life, parole for boring behavior.
She quickly uses her newfound freedom to sit on a bench and smoke. What is it with benches in this movie? Perhaps they symbolize the pain of sitting in one place while being thoroughly bored. Or maybe it’s just a Canadian thing. Anyway, Bako starts to make a face. It’s a hard face to describe, but it’s something like, “I shouldn’t have eaten that monkey poo.” She touches the bridge of her nose a lot while she makes this face. We cut to her POV, and see that everything looks blurry in Bakoland. She REALLY shouldn’t have eaten that monkey poo. Then she starts flashing back to the near-fatal belt whipping while whispered voices repeat lines from earlier in the film. (A surprising tactic, since there have been exactly nine lines of dialogue to this point.) This whole montage lasts longer than her jail sentence. Then, a nosebleed. Luckily, a napkin magically appears in her hand (it was in the prison shopping bag?) to stop the bleeding.
As her nosebleed subsides, she looks on the ground and sees a length of red pipe. Bum bum bummmm.
Now she’s walking around with her shopping bag. She peers into a line of cabs, then gets into one of them. It’s driven by Bench Guy! He doesn’t recognize her (that red wig?) or something, because he tells her she has to take the cab at the front of the line. Here we learn that Bench Guy isn’t bright, as Bako makes some threatening conversation with him and he still doesn’t recognize who she is. He reaches for the door handle, but she says, “I wouldn’t do that.” Surprisingly, he takes her advice. Then, our first bona fide Jabootu moment.
She leans forward and asks where Frank is while poking him in the neck with her finger. I think it’s supposed to be like a gun. You wouldn’t think we’d have to analyze what’s wrong with this, but here goes: a) touch the fleshy end of your finger to your neck. Feel like a gun barrel? Didn’t think so. b) Bench Guy has a clear view of her face in the rear view mirror, and even a good view of the finger at his neck. He even stares into the rear view mirror as he talks to her. The only plausible theory is that Bench Guy suffered a major head wound as a child. This head wound impaired him in two ways: he no longer has feeling in his neck skin, and his brain mistakes fingers for lethal weapons. Poor Bench Guy. He gives up the goods, telling her Frank set himself up “down south” and that she should try Gloria. She takes the opportunity to mock his cab driving profession and leaves. Tossing behind … a length of red pipe. Bum bum bummmm.
The pipe was supposed to feel like a palmed gun? There was still no room in her hand for a pistol, even of the mini variety, and Bench Guy still must be pretty dumb to mistake the serrated edge of a length of pipe for a smooth gun barrel.
Realizing Bako meant him no harm, and being a generally dumb person, Bench Guy gets out of his car and stops her. It’s at this moment that we discover the director’s real passion: bright backgrounds. Bako turns around in front of the purpliest purple wall ever put on film. This wall is so purple … (how purple is it?) … Prince must have chipped in funding. Anyway, Bench Guy offers assistance. Why? IITS. She wants money, a gun, and a car. He asks what kind of car, and the camera pulls back to reveal a turquoise blue convertible, complete with turquoise blue hubcaps. “Like that one,” Bako quippeth.
If you guessed the next shot would show Bako driving the turquoise convertible while an upbeat road song played, give yourself a wedgie for having seen too many bad movie jokes. She drives to a bus station to put that silver briefcase into a storage locker.
Wait, silver briefcase? Let’s make some big logical leaps for the movie’s sake just to see if this makes sense. First, let’s assume Bako was put in jail because of that silver briefcase, which somehow linked her to the “crime” of the frosted Lucky Charms swap. There’s no other apparent reason she was there, unless a pre-movie warrant was issued based on some crime she committed that’s never alluded to. So, the silver briefcase had some fingerprints or something on it, and was used at trial to put her away. Is the criminal justice system in the habit of giving evidence back to its convicts? If O.J. was found guilty, would they have given him the bloody glove back once he got on parole? Are these the souvenirs they sell in the jailhouse gift shop?
Anyway, she hides the magically incriminating silver briefcase. (Maybe the location of Hoffa’s body is written on the inside. Maybe I should stop trying to make sense of it.) She also looks around suspiciously while she does this, just in case we thought … oh, hell I don’t know.
We cut to a darkened house where a woman walks in and turns on the lights. Once the lights are on, we can see that this woman is butt ugly. Now I understand the arguments about the objectification of women and the impossible standards set for beauty on the silver screen — I did accidentally minor in Women’s Studies after all — but this is a B movie, and a B movie with fishnet stockings on the cover to boot. I’m sure the actress playing Gloria is very nice, but she’s butt ugly, and it’s distracting.
Bako has snuck into her house of course. This startles Gloria. Bako stands up and slowly walks over, then reaches out to … I don’t know, feel the fabric of Gloria’s sweater. Gloria sets a major landmark by uttering the film’s tenth line: “Don’t touch me.” Don’t worry, I won’t. They have the obligatory how-did-you-get-in/oh-I-was-in-prison chat. Bako asks for help. Gloria says something intelligent — “Why should I help you?” — and instead of some expository dialogue about these two’s relationship (which would have been merely clichÃ©), we get lines like “you thought you could pick up where you left off” which mean nothing. At no point in this movie’s interminable 82 minute length do we figure out who Gloria is. Another ex-girlfriend of Frank’s? Bako’s mother? Either one’s ex-college roommate? Any explanation is plausible. None is offered.
Needless to say, Gloria will tell Bako where Frank is if she agrees to leave her alone. She tells Bako about Frank’s boxing club on the west side (is that near “down south”?). Then we cut to Gloria and Bako in a car outside the boxing club. This is Gloria’s definition of being left alone? The boxing club, by the way, is eight stories tall. Lots of boxers in Saskatchewan. A car drives toward them with its headlights on, making Bako squinch her face again. At this point I’m beginning to suspect the nosebleed deal is a party trick. We get another blurry vision montage, and the blood flows. Yeah for us! A stupid recurring theme! [Future Chris: the nose bleed never happens again.] If you guessed Bako has another magical napkin in her hand, give yourself a hand.
Impressed by the nosebleed party trick, Gloria offers to help. (Boy, Canadians are polite to criminals.) Bako asks to stay for a couple days. Didn’t they just agree to leave each other alone? Gloria agrees to one night anyway. Why? IITS.
We cut to Bako pulling a gun out of her knapsack. The gun is wrapped in a red cowboy bandanna. I guess in Canada street gun dealers gift wrap. We see that she’s under some interstate overpass. She starts taking target practice at three tin cans on a cardboard box. These tin cans have no labels, and are all different sizes. Where did they come from? Are unlabeled tin cans a naturally occurring fruit in urban jungles? I can see botanists amazed as they pluck ripe cans from the hanging steel girders of decaying freeways, cracking them open to eat the juicy beans inside. Anyhoo, Bako’s a terrible shot, not only because she keeps missing, but because she has no problem firing an unsilenced gun near a major road. I’ve never been to Saskatchewan, but I know I couldn’t take unprotected target practice near my local interstate for too long before someone came to investigate. But this is magical Canada, where guns make no noise whatsoever.
She tries a few times, then starts making her nose bleed face. Only this time there’s no bleeding, just flashbacks to the good ol’ days, when Frank would take her down to this very spot and help her shoot those very cans. Obviously Frank wasn’t a very good teacher. She takes a few steps closer, then fires of a shot that somehow knocks over all three cans! (What’s she using for ammo, boxing gloves?) She falls to the ground with a girlish grunt and cries at the humanity of it all. To make sure no mistake is unturned, the director cuts back to a rolling fallen can. The can has no bullet hole through it, though it is dented. Maybe my boxing glove gun theory is correct after all.
Cut to a car. (So many cars!) We get that thing where the door is shown opening from ground level and someone’s shoe comes out. Usually this trick is to show unusual footwear: cowboy boots, snakeskin, tráº»s chic high heels. Here we just get regular old black shoes, but they turn out to belong to Frank, so they must be villainous shoes. He probably uses them to kick puppies.
As Frank tries to open a door, a gun is drawn to the back of his head. It’s Bako! She must have figured out the distance she can aim and still hit, because she has the barrel right on his curly ‘do. She pats him down. They engage in some vague dialogue, literally talking about “things” and whether these things have “changed” or not. It’s clear they’re speaking about old times, but listen to the conversation assuming “things” refers to underwear. It still makes sense. That is the mark of a bad writer. Or at least one who doesn’t know what he’s writing about.
She makes him drive his shiny black car while holding him at gunpoint. He asserts she won’t shoot him. To prove him wrong, she sticks the gun out the sunroof and fires one off. Somewhere, off in the far distance, some Saskatchewan cops look up from their dinner and wonder, “Damn, who keeps shooting guns around here?” Ah, well.
They get out near some water. For the second time in the movie’s first half hour, I start to anticipate ‘The End.’ She marches him to the water, where he informs her he’s got something for her in his pocket. He pulls out a bag of … Bisquick? Gymnast’s chalk? Ohhhh, it’s cocaine! Bako grabs it and scatters it all over the ground, leaving not only a trail of drugs for the cops to find (once they finish dinner) but a convenient dust for footprints to be left in. Dumb! Dumb! Dumb!
Now she tells him she has a gift for him. Is this what Boxing Day is? She hands him a box and tells him to open it. He does, and inside is a small twirling ballerina and a music box chime playing The Wedding March. The pathos! Ohhhhhhhh the pathos! Yes! Now I sympathize with this woman! Shoot him! He must Die! Die! Die!
End! End! End!
She whips around and kisses him so hard his lips bleed. Seriously. Then she makes him get on his knees. Then she asks him why he double-crossed her. It has something to do with her drug problem — prison must have cured that. Then she tells him that her cut of the money is all that’s keeping him alive …
… keeping him alive … NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
The ‘cut’ is $150,000, which is a pretty pathetic McGuffin, especially since this movie was made after “Survivor” premiered. Isn’t a million officially the minimum amount to persuade people now? Then again, this could be Canadian money, and that’s different. It probably goes a lot further in Saskatchewan. Being the villain, he taunts her for not shooting him. To prove her point, she kicks him. Yeah, that showed him. Underneath all this is the typical “heartbeat” music cue. Bum bum ………… bum bum ………… bum b-
Cut to a living room. Yep, they just stop the music mid-bum and cut to another scene altogether. I haven’t seen a mistake with the soundtrack like this … um, ever. If you want to visually cut in the middle of a musical phrase, you just keep the phrase going into the next shot and fade it. Everyone knows this; everyone does this. To just shut off the music for no reason is jarring. Mary had a little what?
Bako takes some pills. They could be for those nosebleeds. Or this could be a reference to her drug addiction. Or they could be vitamin D. All I know is that this movie could have been over if she had just squeezed a trigger a few seconds ago. To emphasize that the movie will now painfully drag on anyway, we got a long shot of Bako smoking and thinking about stuff. This shot is also longer than her entire jail sentence.
Cut to Greg Evigan! He’s walking out of a house with … oh, no, please, anything but that. Ah, crap, he’s walking out of the house with a little girl. If this movie follows the standard rubric, that girl will somehow be related to Bako. Then again, this is a flick that can’t even manage expository dialogue and musical cues correctly, so….
Nope, it’s Bako in her car, watching the little girl go for a walk. We’re doomed. Bako has another great expression here as she watches the girl. Her mouth is pulled way down, like the Grinch’s, and her eyes radiate pure hate. Maybe the girl stiffed her on a drug deal, too? Yes, maybe the little girl needs to Die! Die! Die! We’ll never know, though, because we cut to …
A waitress’s legs in a bar. Yippee, we’re finally in the strip club. Not to be a total chauvinist (too late) but the strip club scene is the main draw in these films, usually the only draw. This crap fest could totally redeem itself right here with a good old fashioned strip club scene. We follow the legs as they walk around and end up at … Richard Grieco and Slick Hair playing pool? It’s a pool hall? I repeat, we’re doomed.
Grieco sports a fake scar as a memento of the fake death threat he received. Slick Hair reminisces with him for a while about “the old days” hustling rigged boxing matches. Now, of course, they’re into … they don’t say. They never say. Our first halfway decent swipe at exposition, and it’s dropped. We still haven’t found out what exactly this big score is. We never will. We’re doomed.
Speaking of doomed. Here’s another gem of banter from the Original Bad Ass Duo:
Slick Hair: Want some free advice?
Grieco: What’s it going to cost me?
I was really happy to see this bit of wit resurface, because it was soooooooooooooooooooo funny the first time. So here’s the gist of Slick Hair’s relationship to Grieco, as best I can figure it. And remember, I’ve seen the whole movie, and it still doesn’t illuminate much more than what we learn here. Grieco is Slick Hair’s sidekick. They used to be street toughs, now they wear nice suits and bitchin’ sunglasses. Grieco is still hanging out with his old crew, but Slick Hair wants him to improve his peer group.
Speaking of the nice suits, this is definitely an informed attribute. Grieco doesn’t look bad necessarily, but it’s not Armani. Slick Hair, meanwhile, is wearing a white shirt with a white tie and suspenders. Oh, and the tie has a white pin in the middle of it. The aforementioned suspenders are used to yank some gray slacks up Slick Hair’s crotch. If this was ever in fashion, I must have been out of town at the time.
We now move to another ultra bright background. Bako is in a phone booth in Lego land, or so it seems based on the wall behind her, which is half Granny Smith apple green, and half fire engine red. She’s pressuring Grieco to get her the $150,000. The notable thing here is a lull in the conversation. Imagine this with the camera on Bako’s face the whole time:
Bako: I want my cut, Frank.
Grieco (over phone): I hear you.
Bako: Don’t even try. Just my cut. No excuses. No delays.
I’m willing to bet my fourth-born child that “I hear you” wasn’t the original line. Either that, or the writer is establishing that Bako’s character can’t follow a conversation. Or that Grieco’s character is hard of hearing. It’s fun to discover these little moments that were fixed in audio post, because you can then play the game of “What’s the Original Line?” For example:
Bako: I want my cut, Frank.
Grieco: But first I’d like to set a world record in jump roping.
Bako: Don’t even try. Just my cut. No excuses. No delays.
Yes, it’s this holiday season’s greatest party game. Get it today. Anyway, back to the conversation. Here Bako pulls out her trump — if she doesn’t get her cut, she’ll tell on Grieco for the silver suitcase heist. I’m still trying to wrap my head around how this works, but I’ll do my full analysis later, when even more inane details of this so-called leverage are exposed.
By the way, Frank’s been in a brightly colored office this whole time. Once the conversation is over, however, he looks to his right where a boxer is training in a warehouse? Then we hear some lines of dialogue about “a job to do.” One of the voices is clearly Grieco’s, but the other is unidentified. Is it the boxer’s? His lips aren’t moving. And yet we see later that it was the boxer’s. Maybe they can read each others’ minds? Grieco can use the powers of concentration to send a message about a hit to a gang member in a boxing club miles away, who then responds the same way. It’s true. I saw it in a cartoon once.
Now Bako’s back at Gloria’s Miraculous Movie Maison (MMM = wonderfully clean and spacious on the inside, ‘flavorfully’ dumpy and tiny on the outside) where she notices a guy walk by out the window. While the rest of us mere mortals wouldn’t take a second glance at this, Bako manages to correctly surmise that this dude is a hit man (and a boxer!) and quickly hides. Gloria peeps around the corner for the inevitable “you double crosser” speech (well, Bako did overstay her welcome). Bako voices this reviewer’s opinion of Gloria: “Get out of my sight.” Instead of obliging we learn that Frank got to Butch. Who’s Butch? Who knows. Who’s Gloria? Who is anyone these days? Still, it must be important, because Bako closes her eyes in … sorrow, apathy, or fatigue depending on who you ask. Butch would’ve known.
Gloria goes out to meet the hit man — you know, confirm the address, sign the clipboard and some standard release waivers, the works — while Bako hides RIGHT NEXT TO THE WINDOW (good job, honey). The hit man’s close look at Gloria must have changed his mind, however, as he pursues her instead of Bako, shooting her in the back in some nearby tunnel. As he stands over the ugly corpse to make sure it doesn’t twitch or anything, Bako runs up from behind and shoots the hit man in the back, screaming “Gloria!” She cared? Not enough to send the very best — no Hallmark cards between these two — but enough to attempt a murder anyway. Consider it room and board payment. Gloria’s dead, of course, so it’s too little too late.
She kicks the gun out of the hit man’s hand, calls him a bastard (“Oooo,” goes the third grade classroom), and points a gun at his head. Her track record for not executing bad guys continues, however, as she inexplicably decides to run away instead of pulling the trigger. (Maybe she decided Gloria wasn’t worth it after all.) This gives the hit man time to pick up his gun and shoot HER in the back. The interesting thing is, he hits! The uninteresting part is that although the bullet hit her in the same place as Gloria, Bako doesn’t die. She just falls down, then gets back up and runs away. She must have been shot with a cannonball: she holds her lower abdomen, but pulls fake blood away from her breast. (Luckily we see later that there was no exit wound at all, so the blood must have come from … uh … give me a second here … I’m sure there’s a body part that could bleed like that somewhere in that area … nope, she must be a pregnant vampire. It’ll be funny when you do get it, promise.)
She gets in Gloria’s car and tears off. She passes a cop car with its sirens on, of course, but it doesn’t even notice her, of course, because it’s obviously off to investigate the gun shots from a week ago, of course. Bako forgoes hospital care for the tender mercies of a white clapboard house in suburbia. Huh? Oh, it’s a hospital after all, or a private practice, or a house with a remarkably busy waiting room and a doctor in it. I knew Canadian healthcare was universal, but I didn’t know it could be found free of charge in every neighborhood home. The doc in this case is Greg Evigan, which means an annoying little girl can’t be far behind. Oh, joy. Bako says, “Matt … I …” and collapses. Surprisingly, her nose doesn’t bleed.
We reemerge in the world’s largest ambulance. Seriously, the thing’s at least the size of a double wide with a screened in porch. Doctor Greg has the expected struggle with Bako: she wants to flee, he wants her to get medical attention. He asks in vain about her situation, then offers her assistance — housing, food, clothing — out of the blue. Pretty par for the course (though at least he’s given justification later). Even though this would be a great opportunity to fill the audience in with exposition, we cut away. You know, dangle the suspense a little. (What movie is this again?)
Cut to Slick Hair enjoying an expensive adult beverage. He’s chastising Grieco for the botched hit job, how it’s going to drag them all down from the illustrious heights of ambiguous boxing promotion, and basically boring us again. The only line of note is when Slick Hair says, “The only thing you’re handling is your dick.” Grieco responds by talking about dirty hands and putting his hand in his pocket. No, I’m not making this up, and no, I don’t think it was intended to mean that.
Grieco asks, “You think these flashy suits fool anybody?” The costume designer probably loved that line.
Slick Hair wants Grieco to wrap things up with “no grief.” Too late, good man, too late.
Doctor Greg is driving Bako up to the summer home in the mountains. This is when we finally receive the crushing news that the little girl, Maggie, is the daughter of Doctor Greg and Bako. Some very stupid lines make it clear that Bako has disowned Maggie, and that Doctor Greg wants her to be a part of the family life again. Oh, double joy. Our painful expository scene (hey, just glad it’s finally here) reveals that Bako walked out on everyone because of her bad drug habits, basically abandoning her daughter, and she has no remorse of regret about the whole thing. Yep, a shining moment for building sympathy for the lead character. Remember the list at the beginning of this review? One criteria is the vigilante factor, but in order for it work, the vigilante must be a just person. Here we have the reverse: a corrupt and amoral character incapable of inflicting deadly violence. Even Steven Seagal knows better than this.
My favorite part of this scene is an improvised line overlap. In theory, the two actors are given argument starters which they improvise to an escalation in which both characters are arguing at the same time and then stop at the same moment. When it works, it’s an effective tension builder. When it doesn’t work, like here, it’s about as emotionally fulfilling as watching your dog sniff the butt of a stuffed animal.
Doctor Greg’s mountain retreat is brought to you by the color brown.
Bako notices a picture of her with Maggie. (Please, no.) Doctor Greg makes a phone call to Pamela, prompting Bako to turn and do the Universal Jealous Question — “Pamela?” — complete with slight head wiggle. It’s the nanny. And I thought she didn’t care. Apparently her ex-husband’s abstinence is more important to her than her daughter’s well being. Audience should be rooting for her by now, yessir.
Bako’s pissed that Doctor Greg took her gun. He hands her a cell phone and promises to bring it up next time. I think this may have been a plot point. Whatever. For those keeping score, we’re halfway done.
I just realized that in Germany, this movie is called The! The! The!
So, Grieco and his boxer show up at Gloria’s now abandoned pad. They walk around while menacing music plays, checking out the decor. The boxer picks up a piece of paper from the dining room table and studies it for, oh, ten seconds. His studying is not in vain: he was able to deduct that it’s registration papers for a Chevy! Good boy, here’s a biscuit. Grieco uses criminal lingo to imply that he’ll have someone at the DMV run the plates (what good will that do?) and they both agree that she couldn’t have got far in the shape she was in, and that she might have gone to Doctor Greg’s.
There was only one possible reason for this scene to be included: the person who owns Gloria’s apartment had a contract that a certain amount of screen time would be spent in her kitchen. Think about it … they already know about Doctor Greg, and they already think that’s where she went. Why check out Gloria’s? And while they’re there, the only thing they discover is that Gloria owned a Chevy. How will that get them closer to Bako? By the way, isn’t there a nice little blood trail outside to follow? What are they doing in the kitchen? You know the drill … we may never know, because we cut to…
Boxer Guy staking out Doctor Greg’s. We get another foreshadow of doom as the little girl gets in a Suburban to go to school with her nanny. The boxer converses with Grieco as to what to do — instructions are to “sit tight” because “she’ll come to him.” Now this scene, as dull as it is, could have just as easily existed without the preceding deal in Gloria’s kitchen. Then again, without that scene, we’d only have an 84-minute movie, not an 85-minute one. And that would be a rip off.
Now Doctor Greg is tending to Bako’s wound up at the cabin. He’s clearly mending an area above her stomach on her side. Bako proves shy about raising her shirt. Doctor Greg laughs and asks, “Whatever happened to that girl who used to run around the house without her shirt on?” I’m curious as well. This is an actress who got her start in the infamous Red Shoe Diaries after all. Bako makes no answer, as she’s too busy expressing pain at having stitches removed to comfortably handle dialogue as well. Act, baby, act!
We move inside, where Bako is emptying the contents of a grocery bag: celery, bread, handgun. She shares a look with Doctor Greg (“What, no peanut butter? How am I supposed to eat this handgun without peanut butter?”) and they have a moment. She wants to know how much longer she has to recuperate, being a busy criminal and all, but Doctor Greg is firm that only good mountain air and the color brown will cure what ails her. She thanks him with at least 72% sincerity and he leaves. This gives her the chance to examine the gun more carefully and discover it’s not loaded. Waaa-waa-waa-waaaaaaaa.
Cut to someone fingering a photo of Bako. (Segue!) It’s Grieco. He’s asking the bartender at his own pool hall if he’s seen the girl. He hasn’t (of course!) and Grieco “loses it” by telling him to take a closer look and slamming his head into the bar. Slick Hair comes to the rescue and tells Grieco to pull himself together. Grieco takes a deep breath. Slick Hair spouts some mumbo jumbo about the hot water he’s gotten himself into as the criminal mastermind of Saskatchewan. He tells Grieco to be careful. Grieco suddenly leaves, perhaps realizing that his photo could be used to actually locate Bako somewhere she might actually be.
Back at Camp Bako, she’s doing some sort of squatting exercises that could only be designed to get her in shape for sitting in a movie theater. Doctor Greg walks in. She’s happy to see him (the subtle changes are astounding) but he’s even happier, because he has a surprise for her … and Doom for us all.
The little daughter walks up. Right on cue, “sweet” music begins to play. Bako looks perturbed or on the verge of a nosebleed. They say hi to each other, then devoted father Greg sends the girl to her room. Bako is pissed, asserting that the girl is in danger being there since she’s wanted by the Canadian mob (good point, actually). Doctor Greg says there’s no danger. Bako says he doesn’t get it. The doctor’s comeback? “No, you don’t get it.” Meanwhile, a little girl whose estranged mother just visited for the first time in years sits in her room and doesn’t get it.
So we have a picnic. The reunited family sits near a river and eats the bread and celery (handgun for dessert). The daughter wants a soda, and acts properly precocious about her demand. Doctor Greg wants her to have apple juice, since he’s a doctor. Bako is provided with a “mother” moment when she gives the girl an orange soda, which she calls an orange fizzy for no apparent reason. The girl gratefully takes a sip. In the real world, Bako would soon learn a valuable parenting lesson about kids and sugar. Instead, a cell phone rings. Bako answers it. It’s for Greg (well, it’s his phone, right?) and he’s called back to the cabin for a mumble mumble.
Now we get a Precious Moment. The girl stands up and walks to the river. She picks up a rock and throws it, but it doesn’t reach the water. Naturally, she turns around and asks Bako to throw rocks in the water for her. Bako obliges. Amazed by this feat of supernatural strength, the girl asks Bako to repeat the Herculean task. (Bako has a lot to do here, acting injured and trying not to throw like a girl at the same time. She fails at both.) Now that they’ve bonded over some nice rock tossing, Bako feels comfortable asking her daughter what her favorite subject in school is.
Since when is drawing a subject you study in school? And of all the things these two could share in common, throwing rocks and liking to draw are perhaps the two lamest I can think of. Luckily, there hasn’t been enough bonding yet. (Die! Die! Die!) The little girl points out that mommy’s smoking is bad for her. “You’re right, I have some pretty bad habits,” replies Bako. Ha ha ha! Understatement! I guess it’s funny. To shut up the precocious little bugger, she starts walking back to the cabin.
It’s the next day now, and Doctor Greg is taking his daughter back to civilization. Greg tries to convince Bako to be a mom, she’s reluctant, la dee da. Meanwhile, the boxer has found her, and calls Grieco to announce his catch. He wants to finish her off (go ahead) but Grieco wants the privilege all to himself. Oh yeah? What about my feelings? Did anyone in the movie think to ask if I’d like to kill her? Noooo. I’m just the reviewer who has to sit through this junk several times. I’m not allowed to kill the annoying people. It’s not fair, I tell you. It’s just not fair.
Bako is bored. She smokes a cigarette. She suddenly develops feelings for her daughter and weeps. Unfortunately, it doesn’t happen that quickly, but that’s all that happens so why drag it out? Her weeping jag finishes just in time for her to hear a car coming up the drive. Yep, it’s greasy Grieco and his boxer friend, sneaking in the front door. Oh, no! They snoop around with the same skill as they had at Gloria’s place, finding nothing. There’s one of those ‘almost’ moments as Grieco checks out the front porch while Bako hides just around the corner.
The two follow standard bad guy procedure and assume she’s not there (page 157 of your handbook, villain cadets), but Grieco notices a picture of Bako with her daughter (page 266) and hatches an evil plan (pages 3, 55, 69-82, 144, 405-406).
Bako goes back to Gloria’s, where she puts on a blonde wig. We will soon discover that this blonde wig is even more magical than the red one she wore at the beginning of the movie, proving that to pull off any crime in Canada, all you need is a wig and a gun.
Back at the old pool hall (man, this really should be a strip club) Boxer Guy is enjoying a frosty beer. Blonde Bako sits at the bar. She glances over her shoulder and gives Boxer Guy a flirtatious look (she actually just smirks a little). He sits down next to her and puts on the moves, obviously not recognizing her on account of that wig. He opens with, “Do I know you from somewhere?” The irony is killing me, but it’s making Alanis Morissette rich. Hey, isn’t she Canadian?
They talk about auras (see Immortal Dialogue) and soon retire to Boxer Guy’s pad. The passing of time is communicated by more lame dialogue over an unconnected scene of the two getting out of a car. Inside we meet The Kid By The Door. They go up some stairs, and Boxer Guy notices Grieco is still hard at work — a light is on under a door which says, “Frank’s Boxing Club.” Cute. Boxer Guy wants to invite Grieco to the party. Bako convinces him not to, but just then Grieco pops out his door. Bako is around the corner in shadows by now, but she’s still only two feet away. Grieco peers around and sees the back of her head, and thanks to the magical wig doesn’t recognize her. Boxing guy invites him to have a drink, but Grieco declines (phew). This leaves the happy couple free to retire to Boxer Guy’s apartment.
They’re making out, and suddenly it occurs to me that there might be some nudity. It’s about an hour later than it usually appears in these movies, but better late than never, eh? Typically, she drops a jar of pennies on his head before he gets past first base. All hope for any entertainment is now officially gone. All that’s left is to wade through the motions of this poorly conceived plot and hope that at least some details are explained. (They won’t be.)
I shouldn’t be complaining, though, because we have now officially begun an ‘exciting’ scene.
Bako rummages through Boxer Guy’s unnaturally colorful apartment and finds some see-through condoms (funny?), a cell phone (which she tosses under the bed), a little knife, and a gun. The whole time she’s doing this we get a nice wide shot of the room. In this nice wide shot, the unconscious Boxer Guy should be taking up most of the floor. Instead he’s not there at all. Either it’s the mother of all continuity errors, or he had to take a leak.
Bako leaves with the gun and begins searching the halls for Grieco. Back in the apartment, Boxer Guy is on the floor amidst his precious pennies, tied up and gagged with a sock or something — maybe that’s why he wasn’t in the other shot … too busy tying himself up. Anyway, he slowly recovers to discover his knife gone, his gun gone, his porridge eaten, his bed slept in, and no sign of Goldilocks. He does find the phone to call The Kid By The Door, though.
Meanwhile, Bako still running around, meaning she either got lost or entered a magically lengthening hallway. It’s okay, though, because she’ll enjoy a magically shortened staircase later. She finally finds the door to Grieco’s office and knocks. Actually, more like pats the door reassuringly.
Boxer Guy is on the move now, running through the halls with one of the more curious gaits I’ve seen on film. Imagine a squat mobster guy who just finished riding a horse for three days, and has to go to the bathroom. That’s what he runs like.
Bako’s plan is foiled (drat!) when Slick Hair answers the door. Here we get our first decent exchange of dialogue, as Bako points her gun at Slick Hair’s heinous tie and asks, “Where’s Frank?”
Slick Hair: “Whom should I say is calling?” Two points for Cool Factor, and a bonus point for correct grammar. Way to go, Slick Hair. The moment is interrupted by an unidentified disembodied voice yelling “Get her!” which causes a distraction so Slick Hair can wrist-slap the gun out of Bako’s hand. Our heroine flees. Boxer Guy lumbers around the corner and Grieco suddenly appears. The three dudes have a conference, allowing Bako plenty of time to find the magically shortening staircase.
Boxer Guy calls The Kid to tell him “she’s in the stairway.” The Kid hangs up and resumes playing Game Boy. We now get a chase scene of sorts as Bako runs down a short set of stairs (removing her wig just in case the audience has forgotten who she is due to its mysterious disguise powers) while the three Canadian gangsters pursue her on a much longer stairway.
The Kid, hearing a commotion, finally decides to do his job and confronts Bako just as she’s on the last landing. They have a little moment as The Kid holds her at gunpoint and the mobsters are given time to come down the extra flights Bako somehow skipped. Just as they’re about to catch up, The Kid is distracted by something in the air. This gives Bako a chance to show she’s a fast learner, as she wrist-slaps the gun out of The Kid’s hands … unlike Slick Hair, however, Bako’s wrist-slap is powerful enough to send The Kid sprawling, and Bako gets away.
To The Kid’s credit, he recovers and gets his gun, pursuing her out the door. As soon as he steps outside, unfortunately he’s again distracted by something in the night sky. I believe we’re supposed to think he’s simply looking for her in the wrong direction, but his acting communicates that The Kid assumed she flew away. Finally he notices her running across the street to his right, and resumes his pursuit.
Bako runs in front of a car with The Kid right behind. She escapes unscathed, but The Kid is fatally smacked.
The Kid By The Door (1976-2000) “He was the fourth casualty in Die! Die! Die! and a Game Boy expert. We shall forever miss his tendency to be distracted by the sky.” R.I.P.
Bako squeals and stops running. Grieco and Boxer Guy emerge from the door. The driver gets out of his car. We have a ridiculous moment as everyone stares at The Kid’s corpse. Even in a high-stakes chase scene, some time must be spent to commemorate the dead, I suppose. Finally, the wake ends. Bako runs off, Grieco and Boxer Guy decide it’s too cold out and go back in, and the driver, well, we never know because….
The soundtrack is actually allowed to bleed through to a new scene (a first!) and Bako is back at the safety deposit box, retrieving that all important silver briefcase. She brings it to the pool hall, where Slick Hair is reading stock prices thoughtfully. Before she can confront him, her cell phone (when did she get that?) rings, and it’s Grieco. Here we get the moment we’ve all been waiting for. He wants to set up a meeting, because … wait for it … he kidnapped her daughter! Normally in this type of movie, the kidnapping (like the nudity) would happen in the first five minutes. Oh, and we’d have a loving parent. Instead, we’re now almost to the end and we’ve only got a mother who could care less being threatened with the kidnapping of a daughter who didn’t even exist in the first half hour. In other words, this whole movie is a prologue. Um, daring. Yeah, that’s it. It’s daring.
Anyway, Bako says she’s got something putting Grieco in the middle of the heist. (THAT was a heist?) They arrange to meet at the cabin in an hour to make a trade. Bako then walks over to Slick Hair. Under the circumstances, he’s remarkably unsurprised to see her. She tells him he has good taste in clothes (wha?) and spills the deal.
We have a good example of the vague dialogue that plagues the whole movie (never thought I’d type a sentence with three ‘gue’ words in it). Bako puts the silver briefcase on the table. Slick Hair voices my opinion: “These are a dime a dozen.” Exactly. An empty briefcase proves nothing. She still tells him to meet her at the cabin in one hour and to bring $150,000 cash. He tells her the price is ridiculous. (Yep.) She says some stuff and apparently it seals the deal. Just to prove that she’s a complete idiot, she leaves him the briefcase.
Don’t worry, I’ll try to puzzle out this stupid ‘leverage’ business in Afterthoughts. For now, let’s just finish the damn movie.
Bako pulls up to the cabin at night (either that was one short day or one long hour). The cabin has apparently been decorated for Christmas (one loooooooooooooong hour). Bako expresses disgust immediately upon exiting her car. Disgust at what? Who knows. Maybe the Christmas lights. She starts to walk to the front door when Grieco skips, yes that’s right skips, up behind her and holds her at gunpoint. He pushes her up to the door as he speaks villainy and Bako does that moaning thing that chicks do when they’re held by the arm by a bad guy in movies.
Boxer Guy is inside, standing watch over the girl and a tied-up Doctor Greg. I’m actually quite disappointed in Doctor Greg here. He seems to be bound by loose rope and gagged with a necktie. As the parent who actually cares about his daughter, you’d think he wouldn’t allow two clowns like Grieco and Boxer Guy to completely subdue and restrain him without a fight. However, no bruises or anything for Doctor Greg. Physician healed thyself, methinks.
Boxer Guy gets the privilege of patting down Bako and searching her bag. He finds his little knife, which gives him the second and final funny line of the movie: “So that’s where that went. You didn’t have to take my blade. That’s, that’s low. That’s just … plain … mean.”
Bako requests the girl be taken away, probably so that she won’t grow up knowing what a poor negotiator her mother is. Being a chivalrous villain, Grieco sends Boxer Guy up to the girl’s room with her, saying, “Watch her. Watch her good.” Some of these lines … you wonder if they busted up laughing on every other take.
To spare everyone’s life, Bako offers to not tell Slick Hair about the heist. Grieco uses villain speak to indicate he will kill her, which effectively does the same thing only better. Bako pretends she’s set up for a letter to be sent to Slick Hair if anything happens to her. Grieco points out she didn’t have time. Bako asks if he’s sure. This causes Grieco to concede. Wow. Rhetoric wins again.
Right on cue, Slick Hair walks through the door. He takes the opportunity to undress Grieco in front of his hostages. (“Daaaaaad. I’ve got company.”) He also says, “I bet you got the old crew as backup.” If he means Boxer Guy, well, yeah.
They exchange the last painful conversation of meaningless patter after Slick Hair drops the money on the table. Bako gives up Grieco. Slick Hair and Grieco try to harm each other with vague threats. Finally, Grieco can’t take it anymore and calls Boxer Guy down. As Boxer Guy comes down the stairs, Slick Hair shoots him and Doctor Greg trips an advancing Grieco (Grieco needed to get closer to Slick Hair to shoot him?). Grieco recovers in time to shoot Slick Hair anyway. (Nice work, Doctor Greg.) Bako grabs the unloaded gun she’s had at the cabin from its shelf and points it at Grieco. They have a little stand-off. The daughter runs down the stairs and yells ‘mommy!’ which makes Bako turn around and gives Grieco a chance to grab the envelope money and run away. Her job accomplished, the daughter turns around and runs back up to her room.
Bako releases Doctor Greg from his cruel bonds. Meanwhile, Grieco is discovering that both cars out front are locked and he doesn’t have the keys. Bako loots Boxer Guy’s corpse for his gun, his car keys, and his little knife. She took his blade again. That’s low. That’s just plain mean.
Doctor Greg calls an ambulance to treat the two dead bodies. Daughter comes back down the stairs and the three head out to Doctor Greg’s SUV. Bako shares some reassuring words with the daughter she suddenly cares about and sends them on their way.
Now Bako sneaks around the yard, doing sneaky tricks like peering around corners and hiding behind aspen trees. Surprisingly, her feet don’t make little ‘plink plink plink’ noises as she tip-toes. She accidentally kicks the money package. She picks it up and discovers it’s full of money-sized blank paper. Hey, Slick Hair actually did something intelligent! As Bako bemoans her greed, Grieco sneaks up behind her and whacks her over the back of the head with a tree limb.
Instead of blacking out, or even getting a nose bleed, she just goes limp. Grieco gets on top of her and rolls her over. Because he’s a villain he propositions her for sex. She stabs him in the sternum with Boxer Guy’s little knife. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Die, die, die.
Fortunately for Bako, the sternum turns out to be an instantly fatal area. Suddenly she begins to feel the effects of Grieco’s mighty blow. We get a lot of that flashback nonsense to earlier scenes as a voice over says “Where is she? Where’s Maggie?”
Doctor Greg drives up and gives her CPR, which, as every paramedic knows, is the best way to revive someone from a concussion. We get a whole lot more flashing as the daughter’s voice intones, over and over, “Mommy.” Over and over. And over. “Mommy.” As Tattoo might say, “De pain! De pain!”
Bako revives. She asks, “Where’s Maggie.” Maggie’s right there. Music change from menacing to triumphant. Fade to black.
Only we have to have an epilogue. Otherwise it would be a rip-off. The daughter is sitting all by herself on one of those playground things that turns in circles, spinning but always keeping her head facing Bako. Bako is sitting next to a kindly old Scottish mother, who remarks about the girl not letting her out of her sight. I’d remark, too. It’s pretty creepy. Bako says she was away for a while, but that she’s not going anywhere now. Awwwwwww. That’s sweet. End! End! End!
Mercifully, it does.
Jabootu’s projects come in many forms. Some are laughable ego-driven projects, like Battlefield Earth or Seagal’s The Patriot. Some are completely inept, like Jungle Hell. Some are just horrifying, like Candy or Sextette. And some, like this selection, simply manage to bore in ways boredom has never before manifested itself. Die! Die! Die! went out of its way to market itself as a cheap thriller, then went even farther out of its way to avoid any cheap thrills whatsoever.
This complete avoidance of entertainment leaves the audience way too much time to contemplate the plot. Sometimes a paper-thin McGuffin is okay, even desirable, as in most Jackie Chan movies. Who needs plot twists getting in the way of action? This movie manages to mangle its paper-thin McGuffin so badly, however, that it turns completely on IITS actions.
Let’s look at the so-called heist. Grieco and Slick Hair pull off some sort of drug deal (inexplicably bringing too much money to the fencer). They give an ordinary silver briefcase full of money to two bagmen, who then proceed to exchange the money for a leather briefcase full of drugs (probably). Grieco then contracts Bako to steal the money back from the drug dealers so he can keep it for himself. He also enlists Bench Guy. When the heist is successful and Bako is about to willingly hand over the money, Grieco tries to kill her. Why? IITS. He doesn’t try to kill Bench Guy, who turns out to be completely disloyal by giving up his hideout to the first person with a small length of metal pipe. No, he tries to kill someone completely in love with him and loyal to the death.
Bako ends up in jail. Why? IITS. Unless they convicted her on the empty metal briefcase, which implies the cops know all about the drug deal, in which case they would have turned a now disloyal Bako into a material witness to nab Grieco and Slick Hair. No, she just gets jailed for no reason.
Bako gets the silver briefcase back. Why? IITS. The silver briefcase somehow proves that Grieco was involved in the heist. Why? IITS. If you think about it, Bako has already been improbably convicted of this crime based on the briefcase as evidence, so all it proves is that BAKO was involved in the heist, not Grieco.
Slick Hair and Grieco have a tenuous relationship anyway, with Slick Hair being particularly suspicious of Grieco’s old gang. You’d think he’d do a quick check on the person convicted in the heist to see if she had connections to Grieco. Or even just out of curiosity to see who she works for. He doesn’t. Why? IITS.
Bako tells Slick Hair she knows who pulled off the heist. Aside from her, of course. She tells him that if he doesn’t give her $150,000 she’ll tell the drug dealers it was an inside job from Slick Hair’s gang. Well, a bullet is a more effective way to keep this a secret than $150,000, but Slick Hair goes along with her blackmail. Why? IITS.
Grieco wants Bako dead. Why? IITS. Doctor Greg wants the ex-con ex-druggie Bako to be a loving mother to their daughter. Why? IITS. When you start to look at the details, every important character motivation and plot development exists purely because IITS. I could be wrong, but I believe this sets a new Jabootu record.
Finally, you might wonder why I chose to refer to the characters by the actors’ names instead of the ones in the script. The reason is simple: for my own amusement. Frank and Macy sound like respectable movie names. Grieco and Bako sound like food products, especially when strung together — Grieco-Bako. Say it. It’s fun. Even more fun is that Slick Hair and Boxer Guy’s names are Rob Roy and Sean Hoy, respectively. Grieco-Bako Roy-Hoy. Ah, the simple pleasures.
Bako turns on the charm:
Bako: Your aura is a lovely … orange and red. Does it hurt?
Boxer Guy: My aura? I don’t think so.