Wednesday, 24 April 2013

A Truly Bad Film Is A Thing of Wonder

A few years ago the late, lamented John Candy starred in a film about the real life shenanigans of the least likely Olympians of all time, namely the Jamaican bobsled team of 1988. Although Candy slid out of medal contention some time ago, should the makers of Cool Runnings ever fancy reprising the comedy of escaping national stereotypes, they'd find plenty of source material in Fatal Deviation.

Fatal Deviation is a martial arts film from the hotbed of roundhouse that is rural Ireland. Made in 1998 with a budget of about 89p. It's the creation of one Jimmy Bennett, a man who funded, wrote, starred in and directed this cliched tale of a son venging the murder of his father in the vain hope of becoming Ireland's answer to Van Damme.

Except it isnt a tale. It's a staggeringly inept set of scenes stapled together in the hope that the viewer might himself stumble upon a narrative. A young man leaves a strangely deserted reform school and takes shelter in an abandoned hovel in the country. He makes the place halfway presentable and, in flashback, we learn this is where he grew up with his kung fu loving dad. Black and white scenes of happier times, Dad showing his son, fresh from a day's being picked on at school, how to become a killing machine.

In a nearby town the love interest is introduced, being harassed in a supermarket by a pair of extremely old hooligans in the least convincing portrayal of devil may care behaviour ever captured on cheap VHS. Our gallant hero, fresh from making his childhood home halfway presentable, is out for the staples of any high kicking Irishman, milk and eggs. By the foolproof means of leaving a thrust toe inches from a bully's chin in the frozen food section, the gauntlet is thrown down. Bennett's back in town. Scores need to be settled. The harassed girl is instantly intrigued by this display of shopping knowhow and silent deadliness and so the plot, or at least the vaguest hint of one, is set in motion.

Complication time. The girl's already seeing someone! Ah fuck Joe, say it aint so. She's only seeing a local gangster, Mikey out of the rock group Boyzone. Mikey provides muscle for a local criminal overlord with an empire that stretches as far as some caravans in an abandoned quarry. There's talk of deals with Hong Kong. Men stand guard with guns. These men smoke, they swear and they don't like their girls bringing home made cakes to kung fu loners.

All kung fu films need an element of Oriental mysticism to show the zen discipline necessary to kicking a man's ribs in whilst wearing a garish dressing gown. Fatal Deviation provides this in the form of a monk who, whilst looking like a homeless Karl Marx, is here to advertise the town's annual ultimate fighting competition, and to coach Jimmy so he can win the title from one of the local gangsters and shame them out of town. Jimmy needs motivation though, so the monk lets slip the men who killed his father, stand to gain from one of their number coming up trumps.

It's a fairly odd religious order that encourages regulation-free fighting to the death but this is the least of Fatal Deviation's problems. Our hero, Jimmy gets into fights everywhere, without any kind of provocation. Turned away from a pub by bouncers who dont like the look of this Darren Gough on steroids, he kicks their heads in and then wonders why a gun is pulled on him by the landlord. Although we are then afforded the greatest line in the film in the inevitable dust-up. On the most painfully unerotic picnic you will ever see, he assumes the motorcyclists riding nearby are out to get him so he kills them. Needing a montage to join the ranks of Rocky and Karate Kid, we're treated to two. The love that must surely blossom between a monosyllabic psychopathic potato and a dumb blonde is depicted in a tapestry of horse rides, fruit-heavy picnics and a visit to what appears to be the Craggy Island Funfair. The transformation from potential killing machine to all out vengeful kung fu master is shown in a preposterous tableau of woodland based training as Karl Marx decides that sleep deprivation and being forced to wear sawn off white denim shorts is the only route to winning the tournament and the love of a good woman. Which it might well be.

Some sample dialogue. 

The last twenty minutes is a crazed mix of badly edited fight scenes, hamfisted attempts at Arnie-like gags and the most pointless bath scene in movie history. It's wonderful. Rarely has a film entertained so much whilst achieving so little. From its Windows 95 era screensaver title sequence through to it's neck snapping finale, this is amongst the greatest things you might waste an hour of your life on, you little bollocks.

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