Crank: High Voltage


by Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

The New York Times reviewer wrote: "Crank: High Voltage, starring Jason Statham as a man with a machine instead of a heart, is boorish, bigoted and borderline pornographic."

Very true. It is also crude, low-rent, lowbrow, insensitive, soulless, tasteless, offensive, lurid, sensationalistic, juvenile, racist, vulgar, ridiculous, sophomoric, politically incorrect, and completely demented from start to finish.

What I can't understand is why the reviewer thought those were bad things!

It may have something to do with the facts that (a) the reviewer is a chick (2) she works for the humor-challenged New York Times.

The basic idea is that Chev (Jason Statham) has his heart removed by some baddies, who keep him alive temporarily by jury-rigging a battery pack to duplicate his heart functions. The only reason they keep him alive is that they want him to be awake when they remove his other vital organs. Of course, when he awakens from the surgery, he's understandably a bit upset that he has no heart, but he really gets ticked off when he overhears the surgeons say that the next organ to be removed will be his dick. Upon discovering that, he rises from his death-bed, kills a few random people, and starts out in search of his missing heart, a search which basically consists of maiming and torturing random people who refuse to help him. What makes it a Crank movie is that his battery pack needs constant recharging from power stations and car engines and whatever other sources of energy he can find. After a re-charge, he temporarily acquires superhuman energy, but as his charge wears off, his strength ebbs to the sub-human level until he can find another place to get a jump.

(Boy, do some cops get a nasty surprise when they tase him instead of subduing him manually. Each blast from the tasers makes him stronger, until he has power rivaling The Incredible Hulk.)

I won't bore you with any more of the outlandish details of the plot. Wikipedia has a very complete summary, spoilers and all, if you are interested.

The point is that Crank is not actually a high-voltage action film, but a parody of one. It is indeed a stupid and ridiculous film, as the New York Times noted, and that is precisely the point! It is wildly imaginative, surreal, and obviously intended to be funny. Although Jason Statham plays a perfect straight man in the center of the madness, there is not one minute of the film that is meant to be taken seriously, and that would be apparent to anyone not employed by the New York Times. Yes, it is a non-stop orgy of over-the-top violence and borderline porn. Yes, it totally lacks any human emotion and resembles a superhero video game. That is exactly what is intended. I have to say that the film succeeds in spades. Although it is not the kind of film I would ordinarily watch for my own pleasure, I found watching it to be a fascinating and exhausting experience. Excluding the credits, the actual running time is only about 80 minutes, and that is filled with so much frenetic action that it makes the first Crank movie seem as slow and stately as a Tarkovsky film. Compared to this, the opening sequence of Roger Rabbit moves slower than The English Patient. Chev makes Lola seem like she was crawling.

It's just filled with bizarre cameos and sidetracks. One of the Spice Girls plays Chev's mother in an off-kilter flashback sequence. A topless stripper gets caught in the middle of a shoot-out, and the gunfire punctures her implants. That pompous guy who played Q on Star Trek plays a wacked-out TV commentator named Fish Halman, who seems to be channeling Glenn Beck. Corey Haim makes a brief appearance. David Carradine plays a stereotypical old Chinese man - and while that is totally offensive, he brings far more dignity to the Chinese people than any of the other Chinese characters in the movie - and they were really Chinese. (Bai Ling's character speaks English, but requires English subtitles!)

How large is the audience for such base tomfoolery? I don't know, but it's probably quite small. Older people will dismiss this nonsense as sophomoric and brainless. Conservative people will find it pornographic and trashy. Mainstream date audiences will find it demented, and I don't know many women I'd recommend it to. Family audiences should not even consider seeing it. You'd cause your kids fewer nightmares by taking them to a triple bill consisting of Hellraiser, a snuff film, and a hard-core porn movie. The only ones to appreciate this film will be the fanboys who love video game movies, and the movie buffs who reach nirvana when a film really tests the outside of the envelope. Having said that, I'll add that if you are in those latter groups, you will probably find it as much fun as I did!

Blu-Ray DVD


61 Rotten Tomatoes  (% positive)
41 (of 100)




7.1 IMDB summary (of 10)
B- Yahoo Movies




Box Office Mojo. It bombed. It grossed less than seven million in 2200 theaters on its first weekend, then dropped dramatically.



Uh ... yeah!

Dude, the entire film is nothing but wall-to-wall violence and nudity! There is some naked flesh on display in about 20 of the film's 80 minutes.

  • Jason Statham shows his butt. (And his pixilated schwantz.)
  • Amy Smart and a bunch of other chicks are naked for about 11 minutes in a row, but Smart is actually wearing a  bikini bottom and two stars over her nipples.
  • The rest of the female nudity comes from various nobodies.




Our Grade:

If you are not familiar with our grading system, you need to read the explanation, because the grading is not linear. For example, by our definition, a C is solid and a C+ is a VERY good movie. There are very few Bs and As. Based on our descriptive system, this film is a:


Very enjoyable "guilty pleasure" film that never got going at the box office. A great parody of the pulp ultra-action genre.