While scanning through “violent action revenge thrillers” on NetFlix® instant queue, I stumbled across a film I’d never heard of before – Wrong Side of Town. When the brief description said it starred a bunch of wrestlers, I figured I’d give it a shot.
But, should I have been worried I’d never heard of this 2010 film, or would I discover Wrong Side of Town was the right choice for me?
Despite giving WWE star Dave Bautista top billing, the film actually features fellow ex-WWE’er Rob Van Dam in the lead. The same smoked-too-much-pot laid-back attitude he showed in WWE appears in the film, making him seem more like he’s about to fall asleep than getting viewers pumped up for an adrenaline rush. With him fighting more to keep himself awake than displaying any real acting prowess, he does nothing to get the viewer interested in his cheap cardboard caricature.
Dave Baustista does pop up in a few random sequences, and seems to be having a good time despite his ridiculous surroundings. Completely outshining fellow wrestler Van Dam in his few brief moments in the sun, he spews out even cheesy dialogue with more flair than Van Dam could ever hope for, leading the viewer to hope Bautista actually gets the lead in the next one of these straight-to-DVD action pics – or maybe even in a theatrical release.
The rest of the cast is a complete joke, from the criminal “mastermind” who isn’t very smart in the brains department to the dirty cop on his payroll, to his two meathead henchman, right down to the kindly-and-clueless neighbors.
The plot is pretty standard for this type of by-the-numbers action flick, with a man – who happens to have a background in military special forces (the Navy Seals are the preferred choice) – is hunted by a notorious criminal for something that wasn’t his fault, and fights off a multitude of bad guys on his way to the final confrontation. In this case, Van Dam’s Bobby accidentally killed bad guy Seth’s (really, Seth? what kind of bad guy name is that?) brother when he found the brother trying to rape his wife.
The normal fight sequences ensue, but, thanks to some horrible editing and Van Dam’s ridiculously laid-back attitude, even those fight sequences turn out to be ridiculous. Witness Van Dam doing nothing but grunting when being shot at point-blank range in the chest before shrugging off the wound (only to merely grimace when removing the bullet himself in a later patch-up sequence)! Watch as a gang of thugs back up to shoot at Van Dam, again from point-blank range, as he climbs a ladder to a height of, oh, 10 feet or so! Watch as those same thugs, when seeing how awful their shooting is as they keep missing, don’t move closer as Van Dam climbs laboriously one more foot up the ladder! Watch, when one of their shots finally hit Van Dam in the leg, and he falls from now a crazy height of around 12 feet, they quickly panic and leave the barely wounded man for dead! Ugh.
And that doesn’t even cover the ridiculously bad editing jobs that abound throughout the film. Want some examples? Van Dam is in the backseat, the neighbor’s wife in the front seat…she turns to look at him while he bounces around alone in the back seat, oblivious…then in the next sequence, Van Dam is in the passenger seat and the neighbor’s wife is in the back seat with Van Dam’s wife. Or, how about when the thugs are looking for their SUV, they drive away without even stopping to take a look at the only parked car with it’s lights on…but moments later, the SUV has it’s lights off, only to turn them on as they drive away? Again, ugh.
Already having cheated viewers out of a leading Bautista role and replacing him with Van Dam, the movie continues to disappoint, bringing in top-billed co-star Ja Rule for only one sequence. Maybe he realized how bad the movie was turning out, but couldn’t completely get out of his contract, so had them write him off early – and maybe Bautista did the same, leaving Van Dam holding the bag for this one.
No wonder Wrong Side of Town went straight to DVD. A ridiculously laid-back Rob Van Dam leads a cast of nobodys to nowhere in this ridiculously awful by-the-numbers action flick. The only saving grace of the film is the few sequences with Bautista, who easily out-acts everyone else in the movie, even while delivering some truly bad dialogue.
If you have NetFlix® (because there’s no way you’d want to pay to see this), you may want to watch Wrong Side of Town just to see giant Bautista handle a too-small-for-him machine gun, or to laugh at the hopelessly pathetic storyline, or just to watch wrestlers act (fellow ex-wrestler Viscera – going by his ridiculous actual name Nelson Frazier Jr. – also pops up) but trust me, it’s not worth it. While the movie has quite a few unintentional laughs, watching Van Dam earnestly but laboriously trudge his way through his first leading role (and probably his only chance to be a movie star) ruins any hopes the film was meant to be a joke…and that’s just sad.