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Hellbound (Warner Brothers) DVD Review

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    Ian Jane
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  • Hellbound (Warner Brothers) DVD Review

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    Released by: Warner Brothers
    Released on: November 1st, 2005.
    Director: Aaron Norris
    Cast: Chuck Norris, Calvin Levels, Christopher Neame
    Year: 1994
    Purchase From Amazon

    Hellbound - Movie Review:

    This later era Cannon films production finally answers the lifelong question that's plagued mankind for the better part of the last three decades – who is tougher: Chuck Norris, or The Devil?

    Two tough Chicago cops named Frank Shatter (Chuck Norris) and Calvin Jackson (Calvin Levels of Johnny Suede) are called in to in investigate the sadistic murder of a prominent Rabbi. At the scene of the crime they find what appears to be some sort of ancient Biblical relic. Shatter and Jackson are called upon to escort the Rabbi's body back to Israel and are summoned to the Tel Aviv police department for questioning after they meet with a foxy University worker named Leslie (Sheree J. Wilson of Dallas) who tells them to check with Professor Lockley (Christopher Neame who has a bit part aside Hulk Hogan in the masterpiece that is Suburban Commando) to find out more about the relic.

    When Shatter and Jackson arrive in Israel the local authorities instruct them not to get involved with the investigation, but you just know that Shatter isn't going to let a crime go unsolved if he can help it, despite Jackson's whining. He heads on out around town following leads, breaking into the Israeli police office undetected and mackin' on Leslie until he and Jackson find out that they're messing with something far beyond the threat posed by mortal man – something far more sinister.

    Hellbound is terrible, even by Chuck Norris standards but it's terrible in such an amazing way that it becomes something completely different than what it should be. The clichés, bad acting, amazing Miami Vice inspired wardrobe that Norris sports and the horrible comic relief courtesy of Calvin 'Token Black Guy' Levels propel Hellbound to all new levels of terrible. Throw in a sub plot about a spunky little pickpocket kid who Shatter befriends despite his attempts to heist his partners billfold, some completely gratuitous karate scenes that feel insanely out of place in what is essentially a really crappy horror movie, a love interest/romance subplot that develops completely out of nowhere and you've got yourself such a mind numbingly bad mess of a film that you can't help but be mesmerized by it.

    And then there's Christopher Neame. Here there be mild spoilers, so proceed with caution….

    Why the filmmakers opted to cast a man who bears a strange resemblance to Michael Bolton as a university professor/seven hundred year old demon named Prosatanos bent on committing human sacrifice and reconstructing some stupid staff to open up the gates of Hell is beyond me. Yeah, fine, they add some effects to his voice to make him sound kind of like Pinhead from the Hellrasier films and there is a scene where his shadow has horns on it, but c'mon, this guy is not evil incarnate, he's way too none threatening and actually kind of silly looking. During the completely predictable finale where Chuck and the now transformed Prosatanos square down inside the sacrificial chamber of some ancient Hebrew building while a man who is never named but looks suspiciously like the one and only son of God looks on, you'd expect the antagonist to look a little more threatening and intimidating but no, Chuck just kicks him in the face a few times and then he and the completely useless Jackson off him for good thanks to a helpful tip from the love interest who throughout all of this seems completely unfazed.

    Directed by Chuck's brother, Aaron Norris (who has worked with him pretty regularly since the late 70s and directed a lot of his films starting with Braddock: Missing In Action III in 1988), Hellbound is a completely malfunctioned movie from start to finish but just try and turn it off – you can't. You're pulled in by the wooden acting and the sheer size of Chuck's head (it appears to take up about twenty five percent of his body in this film and he looks like a bearded Bobble Head Doll). The horrid and unnecessary fight scenes speak to you in ways that make no sense at all, but yet they do. The horrible plot is so easy to figure out that a blind person can see it coming from a mile away and the surprisingly relentless comic relief is about as funny as a dead baby – but yet you can't turn it off. It's like seeing a car wreck alongside the highway – you don't want to look but you have to, just to see if you can catch a glimpse of an injured victim or see something on fire. You know it's wrong to do it, but you do it anyway and you can't help yourself.

    Hellbound - DVD Review:

    Hellbound gets a 1.33.1 fullframe transfer that suits the movie just fine as it looks to be its original aspect ratio (didn't this one go straight to video? I think it did). The colors look okay and the black levels aren't half bad but Warner Brothers obviously didn't put any real effort into sprucing up the image at all as there is some fairly heavy grain and a little bit of softness to the picture. If you've seen the film on VHS before, it's likely this DVD came from the same master (a guess on my part) as the picture quality is about the same as a good, first generation pre-record. Overall though, everything is perfectly watchable, just don't go into this expecting a reference quality transfer cause that ain't what this release is all about. Edge enhancement and mpeg compression aren't a big problem, but the lack of serious detail in the image is a little off putting at times. Things could have been worse, but they sure could have been a lot better.

    The English language Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound track is decent enough, if rather unremarkable. Dialogue comes through cleanly and there aren't any problems understanding any of the performers. Bass response is pretty weak but you'll hear it when it counts – in the action scenes. There are no alternate language tracks, subtitle options or closed captioning options on this release, though there are one or two scenes in the film where the Hebrew dialogue is translated into English through some burned in subtitling.

    This release is completely barebones and in fact, the only option off of the menu at all is 'play movie' – there isn't even a chapter menu (although the film is divided up into chapters, you can only navigate them with your remote's next chapter button).

    Hellbound - The Final Word:

    Hellbound is about as goofy as they come but it's so poorly made that it almost transcends itself and becomes some sort of twisted Chuck Norris art film. It takes a special kind of person to appreciate this type of film, possibly a very sick person in need of serious help, but if you fit that Chuck Norris loving mold like some of us do, you're going to want to own it and enjoy it over and over again.


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