Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Monster Brawl (2011)

It's certainly possible to make successful films based around the concept of a fighting bout or tournament.  Whatever you think of the individual movies, producers have seen success with films like Bloodsport or Karate Kid.  Unfortunately, when folks have tried to translate it to genre movies, it hasn't gone well.  Consider The Arena, which I reviewed quite harshly about a year ago, or Robot Jox, which I would review in a heartbeat if I could find it on DVD.  I'd tell you it was terrible, because it is, but I would review it.

This movie makes Robot Jox and The Arena look good.  Which is a shame, because the basic premise - "a fighting tournament featuring classic horror monster likes zombies, vampires and werewolves" - could have been fun if done with ... well, if done with even an ounce of competence.

Let's start with the most obvious flaw: the protagonist.  Or more specifically, the fact that there isn't one.  There's no-one for the audience to hook onto, no-one with ambitions or aspirations that we can empathise with and hope to see them achieve.  Or rather, the ones that show signs of having such goals get killed or otherwise written out of the film well before the supposed "climax".

For that matter, a good half of the characters lack any motivations at all.  I mean, these creatures are in a literal 'sudden death' tournament; every fight is 'win or die'; so why are they risking their necks to take part?  In many cases the answer is "Heck if I know", because the movie never bothers to explain.

What this means is that there's no emotional investment in the film.  There's no hero we want to see triumph over the odds (or there are, but they left already), no villain we want to see get their comeuppance.  It's a truism of professional wrestling that what sells tickets is "making people want to see this guy beat that guy".  Given the number of former or current MMA and pro-wrestling folks involved in the film (at least six), someone should have pointed this out.  Though it's always possible they did, and got ignored.

In any case, what we end up with is a series of not-very-well-staged wrestling matches, featuring people in not-very-good monster makeup, for not-at-all-explained reasons.  It makes for a pretty darn tedious affair, frankly.

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