Ahh, sometimes it’s good to write for RogueCinema. A lot of the times I’m offered fairly serious dramatic works, documentarys or low-rent horrors that generally have more heart than they do technical ability – however, once in a while a really classic bit of independent film crosses the network and I’m lucky enough to be the one to review it. The guys over at Wicked Pissa Films, which takes its name from a comedic hiphop group the filmmakers are in, they really made my day with this one. With a title like Roid Rage in this post-Benoit climate, one naturally assumes this is going to be something that cashes in on the topical relevance of the situation. In some degree I assume that’s relatively true, but the quality of the production is the real surprise here. The style is like Guy Ritchie on… well, steroids! It is a fast paced, often comedic look at the bodybuilding culture that culminates in what turns out to essentially be a zombie-like scenario. Sounds pretty wild right? Well it is. It isn’t a perfect film by any stretch of the imagination, but it has a lot of really great things going for it that most films at this production level rarely do. The previously mentioned hyper-kinetick style with cinematography that is more often than not lush and inventive. The acting, which I’ll get to later, was another one of the surprises. The performances in the film are so well done, and I’m not just saying that coming from a guy who is used to a lot of "indie" performances – the characters created are believable and even though the dialogue often seems improvisational there’s not a whole lot of the simple mistakes you often see with those who are so new to the craft; like stepping over others lines and simply resorting to expletives – although this flick would definitely be an R rating on the merits of the dialogue alone to be sure.
The basic premise circles around Billy Beck (writer and director, Josh Mitchell), a smalltime Steroid dealer who works out of a gym run my his boss Jack, who’s his supplier. Beck as of recent has been pushed around by a certain DEA agent who feels he is just moments away from bringing the whole charade crumbling down. Billy has big plans however, and hopes to get out of the Steroid business and open his own gym with a tanning salon for his girlfriend to run (the incredibly smoking hot Nikki Robertshaw) and being host to his good friend who is also a bodybuilder, and the biggest around as well. When Jack’s Gym looks to put on a bodybuilding contest with the prize being a new Hummer with 10K dollars at stake – Billy figures his friend is a shoe-in for the prize money and the two of them can finally open up their gym. So Billy goes looking for a slight edge, and finds it in a UK science department who has found a new drug that mixes certain growth hormones from cattle into your average steroid dosage. Unknownst to our scientist and to Billy, the cattle for this most recent experiment unfortunately featured a bit of a Mad Cow outbreak. So, out on the island everyone goes for the competition – but when everyone is given a dose of this Mad Cow steroid – things get ugly and the bodybuilders turn… MAD!
The performances in the film were so strong for this sort of thing. Josh Mitchell is perfect in his role as the Jersey Guy who may or may not be your typical scumbag, and since the film really lies on his shoulders he really sells the whole project. Nikki Robertshaw, who I already previously mentioned as being smoking hot, was also really great in her role and seemed like a natural on camera. Jim Sullivan as the slightly crazy, slightly quirky DEA agen who wants to bring the Beck character down with a passion was another memorable character who was played in a real and believable fashion. The one character who goes really far over the top is the gangster who is also after Beck and Jack’s gym in particular, unfortunately I’m not sure of the gentleman’s name (Robert I assume, from looking at his myspace page, didn’t see him listed in the credits), but he definitely deserves a mention because he’s just so much fun onscreen. Constantly screaming and shouting in spectacular fashion. The character is so far over the top, and yet not in a purely humorous manner. Just another little mixture of what makes the film so ludicrous and fun.
Like I said, it’s far from perfect. In those final minutes the cinematography gets a little dark and it was a little hard to keep up with on my screen – but it could have just been the glare that was beating at my eyes. During the Island sequence some of the conversations become a little more drawn out than they probably needed to be and the bickering between many of the characters gets a little tedious – but these are personal pet peeves and overall I had a blast with Roid Rage and look forward to any of Wicked Pissa’s future films! You can read more about these guys over at their myspace page located HERE! Definitely look into these guys, they definitely know what they’re doing!