Dangerous Men (2005)
By: Stuart Giesel on May 9, 2016 | Comments
Drafthouse Films | All Regions | 1.85:1, 1080p | English DD 2.0 | 80 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Credits
Director: John S. Rad
Starring: Michael Gradilone, Melody Wiggins, James Brockman, Kelay Miller
Screenplay: John S. Rad
Country: USA
In the pursuit of the best "so bad it's good" movie you'll inevitably stumble across the "classics" of the genre, from Tommy Wiseau's baffling San Francisco drama The Room to the idiotic 80's action antics of Gymkata. But one film that deserves to be mentioned alongside those aforementioned turds has now finally found its home on Blu-Ray. Dangerous Men apparently took Iranian writer/director John S. Rad (real name, Jahangir Salehi Yeganehrad) twenty-two years to make. Twenty-two fucking years - not even Terrence Malick pisses around that long on any one of his films. The results are absurd, stupefying and amazing. Was it worth the wait? Well, most people would say, "Hell no, what is this piece of shit, what's wrong with you?" But for a select audience, Dangerous Men might just worm its magnificently moronic way into your heart.

Heads up, this is a long review, 'cos we've got a lot of lunacy to cover.

Despite its best efforts to obfuscate what is a straightforward revenge narrative, Dangerous Men is a film of two halves that are intertwined Godfrey Ho-style (i.e. not at all). Apparently this was because the lead actress Melody Wiggins refused to continue to work with Rad for financial reasons, meaning he had to fill in the blanks with additional scenes and totally different actors, yet still try to retain some form of narrative sense. The result is as disjointed as the cut-n-paste ninja antics that Godfrey Ho shoves into the forgotten Asian films he buys off other people.

We start off the film proper, after a bunch of pointless bits, with the near-rape of a young woman named Mina (Wiggins), who witnesses the murder of her fiance Daniel by bikers. She swears to take revenge, awfully quickly for that matter, there's no real downtime for her to mourn or even go to the police. So she takes to the streets to kill off the "dangerous men". Apparently this stands for virtually every man she comes across, because apparently every man is a rapist or a murderer or a general scumbag. The parallel plot involves a boring cop named David (Michael Gradilone) who is out to find the scum who murdered his brother (yes, he's Daniel's brother, and despite almost being Mina's brother-in-law, never meets or speaks to her because of the issues with Wiggins falling out with Rad). David tracks down the biker gang and its leader, Black Pepper. Added to the mix is the chief of police (Carlos Rivas) who muscles in on the third act, despite the fact we don't even know the guy's name, unless his first name just happens to be "Chief".

Dangerous Men is allegedly John S. Rad's thirteenth film, and his third American film. You wouldn't know it to look at it. This comes off as a first feature, one created by a person who understands the concept of films but hasn't seen one in its entirety. Everything feels off. Scenes are awkwardly stitched together with no sense of context, setting or pacing. Characters aren't properly introduced, and disappear and return with no sense of time or place. In an almost masterful amount of incompetence, every scene has at least two or three things wrong with it, meaning this is an eminently rewatchable film for bad movie lovers.

When you're not yelling out "what the fuck?" at the screen every fourth or fifth scene, you're likely to be wondering who the hell we're meant to be following now, or asking yourself why a major character from earlier on has never come back, or just why the film is focusing on a particular scene that is completely irrelevant to the plot, or wanting to bash your head against the wall when John S. Rad's cheap, intrusive music loops over for the fiftieth time, sounding like the sort of gunk you'd download off a royalty-free music service.

Honestly, you'd have to see this at least twice to understand what the hell is going on. Initially, once we realise that Mina is supposed to be the main character, it seems as if Dangerous Men is turning into a female Death Wish in the vein of Ms .45 (but with none of that film's style). But then it switches to the character of David and his quest to track down the leader of the bikers, so we figure that their paths will collide at the end. But no, it turns out not to be Mina or David's story, but the Chief's story. Except it's not really, because none of this fucking shit matters. And none of these plotlines are tied together in any way. Even with the problems Rad had with keeping the cast intact, he could at least have dropped in Nina or David or Daniel's name here and there to try to implement some degree of interconnection.

If you want a sense of how haphazardly Dangerous Men is put together, consider the following scenes. Mina heads out on the road after her fiance's murder and is almost immediately picked up by a businessman. We get a bunch of flashbacks that pop up so suddenly I wasn't sure who was supposed to be having these flashbacks in the first place. After that bit of pointlessness, the businessman sees Mina sleeping in the front seat and actually says he's not going to let this opportunity pass by, so he pulls a gun out and tries to rape her. On what planet is this all happening? Mina gets the upper hand, strips him naked and sets him off into the wilderness. That should be it for this creep, right? But, no, for some reason the film focuses on this businessman as he treks through the brush, babbling to himself and berating his penis - yes, you read that right, berating his penis - about getting him into trouble. Why the hell is Rad devoting so much time to this character? Ah, he mustn't be just a scumbag side character, he must have some importance down the road. Maybe he gets back to civilization and plans to seek revenge on Mina herself, which would make for an interesting twist. But, no, like almost everything in Dangerous Men, this character is soon dispensed with and we never get anything close to a resolution.

You'll also be pleased to know that Dangerous Men has the usual low-budget crap movie hallmarks: bland offices that look like they were filmed in the basement of a college, pointless filler scenes (we get a scene of our heroine renting a car, reading a car rental contract set to exciting music!), and jarring edits from one person to another with no sense of continuity or purpose. Scenes that seem important to the plot are simply left out entirely or presented in brief snippets. Irrelevant scenes, like a belly dance and sex scene at Black Pepper's place, go on for ages. People come and go, appearing out of nowhere simply because they're needed in a scene.

Here are just some of the highlights:

  • The title credits, which list John S. Rad as Executive Producer, Writer, Director, Creator and responsible for Music, Song and Lyrics - literally no one else is mentioned in the title credits. Also, the words "Dangerous Men" come together in an actual explosion, which is nice.

  • Fight scenes are clumsily executed, and that's being generous. Whether it's a pissweak bit of karate in a petrol station, or some man-on-man action on the beach, Rad ensures that there is absolutely no sense of danger or skill portrayed on-screen.

  • A bald biker, after killing Mina's fiance, yells at the dead man, "You son of a bitch, you're lucky you're dead, you killed my only friend!" Actually, there's a lot of that in Dangerous Men, of people talking to dead bodies and spouting exposition to themselves like they're on a daytime soap opera.

  • Mina is on the beach and we see that the lyrics to a song that is playing right at that goddamn moment are literally written into the sand.

  • Mina wants to become a prostitute so she can lure in the "dangerous men". She brings a prostitute back to her hotel room and barrages the woman with a bunch of questions including, "Tell me about the risks you take... who are you most afraid of, the police, your customers, drug dealers; what are you afraid might happen to you?" What in the holy fuck is going on? Who talks like this?

  • A car rolls down a hill out of view thanks to the sucky placement of the camera, so we get a cheap explosion superimposed over the screen to finalise its "destruction".

  • The "Chief" reads his highlighted lines off of paper on his desk in his "office", and the film makes no effort to hide this.

  • An allegedly "hot" woman flags down a biker and his gang - this being the biker who tried to rape her a few scenes ago - and David gets stuck in the car in what we can only assume is meant to be an attempted ambush, yet the scene wasn't established properly at all, so we can only guess at what the hell is going on. Apparently the gang don't give a shit about their leader, since they've buggered off somewhere else. The bikie leader fires a bunch of bullets directly into David, who isn't hurt and doesn't even flinch thanks to his bulletproof vest. What follows is another lousy fight scene where David tries to put a sleeper hold on the bikie, but it looks like he's giving the guy a massage.

  • "What, are you out of your fucking mind, this is kidnapping!" yells an indignant biker to David, apparently believing that what's happened to him is the most heinous of all crimes, this coming from a dude who tried to rape a woman and murder David a few scenes earlier.

  • An "FBI agent", whom we never see again, is told to use all available resources to find Mina. The agent claims he has all the evidence and has "everything, even her picture" as if getting her picture was some monumental task. Good work, Mulder.

  • David and Black Pepper's fight involves the reuse of two - two - punch-and-yelp sound effects so frequently they end up sounding like a parrot being smacked around.

  • The ending is so abrupt, it's worse than an old Hong Kong action film where the film literally halts mid-scene once the action is dispensed with.

But, Jesus, to document all the absurdity in Dangerous Men would take many more pages. You get the idea. This is a mess; a wonderful, stupid mess.

Dangerous Men has to stand as one of the most disjointed and incomprehensible films ever made. It raises many more questions than it answers. Who are all these people? Why do half of them not have names? Why is so much time being spent on people we'll never see again? What is going on? Why is no one being properly introduced? What was the point of that scene? What sort of alien/man hybrid created this film? If you ever wanted to watch a movie that raises these and more questions, then you have found nirvana.
The Disc
Kudos must again go to Drafthouse Films who, along with Arrow Video, are the kings when it comes to releasing forgotten, genre or cult films to Blu-Ray with a maximum amount of care and consideration for the buyer. Dangerous Men is another standout release from Drafthouse, presenting the Blu-Ray, DVD and digital release of John S. Rad's almost-forgotten "masterpiece" in one set, along with some decent extras.

Picture is clear and acceptable, considering that Dangerous Men was probably shot for fifty bucks. The picture is bright and although there's a fair amount of grain and artefacts, it lends itself nicely to that grindhouse/exploitation feel that Rad was presumably aiming for. There's a bit of a jitteriness to the picture, but I'd put that down to the original film source. Sound, however, is another story. Dialogue is often extremely difficult to understand, given that it is usually hollow-sounding and varies wildly from scene to scene, sometimes overshadowed by background noise or Rad's awful, awful score. Half the time it sounds like the actors had their dialogue recorded on a tape recorder and then played back in an empty toilet stall. Sound effects are often clumsily executed, and the sound occasionally has the habit of dropping out completely. And speaking of the music, it's mostly repetitive, looping shit that you'd expect to find in a 70's porn film, or a parody of one (think of the music that pops up during Orgazmo's sex scenes and you'll get the idea). It would have been useful if Drafthouse provided subtitles for this film, but perhaps no one could understand the dialogue to begin with so they dropped the idea.

Main features include an audio commentary with "Destroy All Movies" authors Zack Carlson and Bryan Connolly. They make fun of the awfulness of Dangerous Men and provide some decent background information and banter throughout, including a bit about how Rad was apparently notoriously stingy and paid actors ten dollars a day and a McDonald's burger (that paints so many wonderful images). "That's So John Rad" sees documentary makers Tim Skousen and Jeremy Coon track down the people (seven or so in total!) who saw Dangerous Men on its original release and talk about their experience with the film. John Rad's daughter is also interviewed, and we get a brief look at the mysterious Rad himself.

The disc contains an interview with Dangerous Men cinematographer Peter Palian. Palian, who also worked on Samurai Cop, talks about working with John S. Rad during its twenty-two year gestation. There's also the full episode of a show called "Queer Edge with Jack E Jett" which featured Rad as a guest along with Sandra Bernhard. The show seems insufferable and too try-hard funny, but it's worth fast-forwarding to Rad's appearance.

Along with the DVD and digital release of the film, Drafthouse's Dangerous Men Blu-Ray comes with its original theatrical trailer and trailers for some of their other releases. There's also a booklet containing an interview with Rad, as well as a reversible cover.

Note that at the time of writing, the Dangerous Men DVD (not the Blu-Ray) has issues with sound being out of sync with the picture - this presumably will be remedied in future prints, but apparently customers are advised to email Drafthouse Films for a replacement DVD if needed.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
John S. Rad has created a film as unique, strange and baffling as a man with the name "John S. Rad" can only conjure. Dangerous Men is an absolute mess of a film, bordering on incomprehensible with its rotating cast, inane dialogue, pointless characters and scenes, and overall incompetence. But with so many hidden gems of hilarity, bad movie buffs will be happily rewatching this for years. Obviously, as with all of these sorts of films, avoid if you're only into "proper" movies.
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