I have no shame in saying that the two Crank movies (2006 and 2009) are amongst my favourite pictures to enjoy on a late night when I don’t want to engage my brain, making the John Wick franchise look like Anton Chekhov in comparison.
Written and directed by the uneven duo (more on this later) of Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, the two pictures concern the adventures of former LA-based Cockney hitman Chev Chelios, played by Jason Statham.
In the first picture Chev is poisoned by a fatal dose of a Chinese synthetic drug which will slow his heart and kill him within hours. Chev keeps his ticker going with coke, epinephrine, violence and public sex whilst he hunts down the gangsters who ‘murdered’ him. In one shot, Chev appears to shoot cartel members with his finger -- something we saw again 4 years later in The Losers.
Coincidence -- or homage?
In the second flick (Crank: High Voltage), Chev has amazingly survived and is now powered by an artificial heart with one hour limit, as his pump has now been sold to ageing triad boss Poon Dong, played with extreme political incorrectness by David Carradine (Kung Fu, Kill Bill).
Chev now has to retrieve said organ, all the while recharging his artificial heart by regular charges of electricity -- tasers, pylons, electric dog collars etc, you get the idea.
The Stath is extremely good in both movies (doing most of the stunts) and seems to be having a whale of a time, as do other cast members such as Amy Smart and Dwight Yoakham. He also keeps his accent, always a plus in Statham movies, as Spy and The Bank Job attest.
Although in some films he drops any pretence to an American accent (or seems to) by around the last two- thirds of the picture (Parker, Homefront, The Mechanic I & II). Writer/directors Neveldine & Taylor are said to be contemplating a third installment in the series.
Aside from the Crank movies the duo have a patchy record -- Gamer (2009), Jonah Hex (2010) and Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2011) all being…well…crap. Whilst Neveldine helmed the mediocre horror The Vatican Tapes (2015) solo, Taylor was responsible for the great Nic Cage shocker Mom & Dad (2017).