Beyond Fright Review: AMERICAN MUSCLE



The terms “Grindhouse” and “Exploitation” both get thrown around a tad bit too much these days. People seem to say that their film is a “throwback” to those slimy, gritty films of the ’70s, and the only thing their films have in common with those older films, is that fact that there are fake dust and scratches digitally inserted into their films to make them look gritty. Personally, I blame the Tarantino/Rodriguez double feature GRINDHOUSE for this resurgence of movies trying their best to look like exploitation films. What many of the filmmakers making those films don’t realize though, is that added dust and scratches doesn’t recreate the fun and adventure of those balls out, gnarly films of the ’70s, that their has to be a genuine admiration and respect for the genre to make a successful homage to the revenge-actioners of way back when. Luckily, those wanting a genuine, balls to the wall, “I DON’T GIVE A FUCK” throwback exploitation film, Ravi Dhar’s AMERICAN MUSCLE is just that. A film that dishes out blood, boobs, and revenge, not giving a single apology for doing so.

From the very beginning, with LAID TO REST star Nick Principe’s John Falcon character getting out of prison and immediately screwing the brains out of the first woman who gives him a ride, you know what you’re in for. This is definitely not a sugar coated, friendly film. Falcon is a man on a mission, ready to find those responsible for leaving him for dead, following a botched robbery, and do exactly what he’s been planning to do to them for ten years: killing every single of of them.

From the first gun fire to the final shot of the film, Falcon sprays the landscape with blood, all trying to get revenge on his former gang (including JASON X/DRIVE ANGRY writer Todd Farmer as Falcon’s brother, who’s also one of the men who left Falcon for dead) and get his former fiance (a seductive Robin Sydney) back. Falcon doesn’t reason with a single person, shooting people in the face, fist-fighting guys and giving them one hell of a suplex before breaking their necks, the guy is a juggernaut, and it’s a spectacle of violence that Principe dishes out as if he’s a walking Terminator.

Previous films trying to emulate those classic violent revenge films typically skim on all of the sleazy ingredients that made the grindhouse films of the ’70s so damned enjoyable, but AMERICAN MUSCLE is filled to the brim with guns, drugs and enough sex to fill four movies, and you’re never given a chance to breath, as Falcon doesn’t care to make small talk, he wants blood, he wants sex and he wants to take full gangs on, a man so fucking tough that there should be an entire series about his various exploits. While Falcon is enough to carry the film, AMERICAN MUSCLE surrounds Principe with enough supporting characters to make the film even more enjoyable. The gang who turned on him a decade before is filled with everyone from Todd Farmer, DEADGIRL/CHEAP THRILLS writer Trent Haaga, CHEAP THRILLS/STARRY EYES producer Travis Stevens in a role as a knife-toting badass, and the devilishly sexy Malice McMunn as a punk rock beauty who looks as tough as the rest of the gang, ready to take Falcon on. Seeing the action-packed and seriously bloody fights between them all is enough bloody action eye candy to satisfy exploitation lovers for weeks. Add hilarious cameos from James Duval and Joshua Lou Friedman to the mix and you’ve got more than a handful of scenes that leave you laughing while satisfying your exploitation bloodlust.

You can tell that AMERICAN MUSCLE was somewhat of a labor of love for everyone involved. Principe, Farmer and Dhar knew they weren’t making CITIZEN KANE, that they were instead creating a film and character that fans of the genre could latch onto and root for, and in turn creating one of the most fun-filled exploitation films in years. When all is said and done, and the dust settles, it’s easy to want to see more of John Falcon and his take no shit persona, a modern day Snake Plissken-like character, very few words, but a LOT of bullets.

Leave A Comment