If “Crank” was ‘Grand Theft Auto’ brought to brazen, bonkers life, “Crank: High Voltage” takes its cracked inspiration from a variety of sources. From 8-bit video games to man-in-a-suit monster movies, there’s nothing that this shamelessly daft, gratuitously violent sequel won’t plunder to keep its breakneck momentum and freewheeling narrative careering forward.
The theme here is “More”. However you’d describe “Crank”, the sequel is more that. Violence? More. Profanity? More. Nudity? More. Moments of action packed mayhem that teeter between brilliant and insanity? MOAR! The first one ran on adrenalin but this one, picking up exactly where the first one ends, runs on electricity and it is playing with some serious voltage.
Improbably still alive after his plunge from the helicopter at the end of the first movie, Chev Chelios’ body is taken by the Chinese Triads who are impressed by his ability to survive their poison. They extract his heart to transplant into the aged head of the Triads, Poon Dong, and place an artificial heart into Chelios to keep him alive while they harvest his other organs. Naturally, Chev doesn’t take this well and begins a second city-wide rampage to reclaim his heart, using any and all means to keep the battery powered heart pumping.
The laws of physics, biology and common sense are violated as often as criminal law as Chelios’ quest unfolds and there’s a particularly hilarious use of pseudo-science to justify a glorious scene designed to top the first movie’s exhibitionist sex scene. Those weird jockey statuettes from the first movie also make a bizarre reappearance, but I have absolutely no clue if that’s deliberate or means anything.
By this point, Chelios’ abilities are tantamount to superpowers but the whole things barrels along with such a cocky sense of its own absurdity that you can’t complain. Statham owns the role, and this time Amy Smart gets a little more to do, including a couple of smackdowns of her own. Even characters who were killed off in the first are brought back, either through a hitherto unknown twin or by even more bizarre means. But in amongst the artificial heart (actually a real thing), the nudity, swearing, violence, reanimated corpses and credultiy-straining physical endurance, the most profound WTF? moment is provided by a flashback scene featuring Geri Halliwell (yes, Ginger Spice) as Chev Chelios’ mum. Bulking up the cameo credit list is an almost unrecognisable Corey Haim as Randy, David Carradine in his last film role as Poon Dong plus John de Lancie, Lauren Holly and even Ron Jeremy and a bunch of his fellow porno pals.
With a pace that needs a title card captioned ‘9 seconds later’, “Crank: High Voltage” crams a lot into its compact running time, and if you’re approaching it from a po-faced poltically correct point of view you’ll find plenty to be offended by. But if you can embrace the gratuitous…well, everything this film throws at you, you’ll have a blast. The ending, much like the first one, is a clusterfuck of rival gangs shooting it out with death, destruction, tits and ass all over the place. Once again, it looks like Chelios is a gonner, having taken out all his enemies in the process but wait – his eye snapping open and making a promise that so far Jason Statham, Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor have failed to honour. Enough waiting – bring back Chev Chelios!