The Arena (2001) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Tuna
|Roger Corman is famous for re-making and
re-packaging his films. This is more or less the same movie as the
eponymous Pamploitation classic from 1973, updated with a bunch of
In fact, the film has far too much technique. The director movies the camera constantly, never lets a set-up last more than a couple seconds before a cut, and makes constant use of colored filters and extreme close-ups. Frankly, a little of that goes a long way. After about 15 minutes of the film, I was ready to have a heart-to-heart with the director and tell him that sometimes its OK to just set a camera in one place and let the actors act.
Of course, considering the actors he had to work with, maybe he made the right choice.
The two stars, the main gladiatrices, are Karen McDougal and Lisa Dergan, two former playmates, the former a playmate of the year. The movie camera loves McDougal, but I don't think she'll be taking any of the Streep roles in the next generation. Dergan didn't look as good in the movie, but looks terrific in her commentary section, and did a more credible job with her lines.
The rest of the cast consists mostly of Russians and Russian-speakers from Central Asia. I guess the filmmakers found a place to shoot cheaply with competent but inexpensive labor.
You'd be surprised how well these guys can create an inexpensive film entirely in the editing room. There is nothing special about the actual filmed footage in this film, except that the set design was better than average for a made-for-vid. It's just the usual grade-b fare. But the director and his editor took that footage and turned it into something that looks like a real movie, and is paced fairly effectively. Strike that. Make it "something that looks like a very long rock video".
|It's a "tweener" in terms of rating. Call it a C- or a double D+, I guess, because it's neither very good nor bad enough to really dump on.||
really have enough T&A for a titty film, and it has no frontals,
and the scenes are too dark and too arty, and the camera inevitably
cuts away from the good stuff just when you're expecting more, like
Red Shoe Diary scenes. I guess that makes sense, because artificially
enhanced chests would not look appropriate in Roman times. The good
news is that when it shows some womanflesh, that resultant skin
belongs to three very attractive women, the two playmates
and a striking dark-skinned woman named Kemirimbe Severina Kamugisha.
(Hire this woman, and she'll fill every one of your ethnic quotas. I
guess she is African and Central Asian and Japanese, and maybe
European as well).
It doesn't really have the kind of quality that you'd expect from a mainstream theatrical release, but it isn't all bad, either.
So I guess a
near-miss as a regular period film coupled with a near-miss as a
tittie film might result in a watchable film for a lot of you. I
didn't mind watching it, except for the constantly jumpy camera work
and editing, and the director did that on purpose! But let me stress
this again. Every time he's about to show the best parts of a
beautiful naked woman, he makes a jump cut to something else, and I
think you'll get frustrated when he keeps doing that.
|Tuna's comments in
(2001) is a made-for-vid, and sort of a sequel to Pam Greer's film of
the same name. The story takes place in a remote Roman outpost. The
ruler sends someone to Rome to buy Gladiators, and women. The women
prove to be spunkier and more combative than the gladiators just doing
their normal kitchen chores, so they are trained as gladiators. They
find something better to do with their swords than kill each other.
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