March 14, 2008, - 1:59 pm

Weekend Box Office: Violent Karate Kid Rip-Off Starring Hot Guy, German Torture Porn Reproduced by Naomi Watts

By Debbie Schlussel
Unfortunately, I could not review “Horton Hears a Who!” as the only screening for critics was held on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath. “Doomsday” was not screened for critics, usually a sign that it’s a bomb (may see and review later). But here’s what I did screen:
* “Never Back Down“: So, a guy in high school moves across the country with his working-class single mom to a new town in a sunny environ, where he and mom live in an apartment and his classmates are rich kids in mansions. He sees a blonde girl he likes. But she’s dating the cocky, most popular fair-haired jock in high school, who is a martial arts champion and keeps beating the new guy up. So the new guy trains with an immigrant with a foreign accent on how to fight back and beat the nemesis and win the girl.
Sound familiar? If it sounds like the plot of “The Karate Kid,” you’re right. But it’s also the plot of “Never Back Down,” an updated version of the charming 1980s hit movie.

neverbackdown.jpgfunnygames.jpg

This one is more cheesy and far more violent and bloody than “The Karate Kid.” Ultimate Fighting/Mixed Martial Arts has replaced calm and “wimpy” karate here. Another big difference is that, instead of wimpy Ralph Machio, the new guy in this one is the steaming hot Sean Faris who is already a fighter and a tough guy in his original Iowa hometown, when he moves to Orlando with his mother and tennis champ brother. And his fights are all over Youtube, where all the new kids see and drool over him and the resident hometown tough guy yearns to beat him–and does, several times.
Also gone is the late Pat Morita and his Mr. Miyagi, with the instructions of “Wax On, Wax Off.” Instead, there is Djimon Hounsou, who runs and lives in an ultimate fighting gym 365/24/7. And in this case, instead of the hot blond nemesis, Billy Zabka, the less appealing unknown Cam Gigandet plays the violent antagonist.
The message of the movie, amidst the violence, is a good one: Our hero doesn’t want to fight, but now he must train to beat up the bully who repeatedly picks fights with him, so he won’t have to fight again. Yet, it’s not consistent, as Faris fights and messes up three innocent motorists who make the mistake of beeping their horn repeatedly.
While I liked this somewhat cheesy guilty pleasure–seeing this hot guy in various states of shirtlessness and undress, what red-blooded girl would not? (Studio reps asked me to interview Faris when he was in town recently, and I regret that I turned it down.)–I could have done without the excessive violence and the gratuitous lesbian kissing scene in a hot tub. This movie is marketed to young teen girls and guys, and that irrelevant act spoiled it.
“The Karate Kid” was far superior and original, but this updated version wasn’t too bad, though more for eye candy reasons than for substantive ones.
* “Funny Games“: In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, last week, German writer/director Michael Haneke–who already made this exact movie in German 11 years ago–said the point of this movie is

to show the viewer that he is an accomplice in the violence.

Um, no. The only accomplices to the violence in this disgusting, two-hour torture-porn fiasco are Haneke and stars Naomi Watts and Tim Roth.
Shame on Watts, who also produces this horrid, painful, violent movie that makes “Saw” look like Shakespeare in comparison. On her appearances, this week, on late night talk shows like “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” Watts told Kimmel the purpose of the movie is to warn us against the violence in movies, but she seemed unsure as she tried to say so. That’s because this movie promotes and further escalates violence with no purpose and further depraves and desensitizes Americans. We didn’t need this movie, nor did we need these two foreigners to “warn” us about the act that they perpetrated against us by making this garbage.
The “plot”: An upper class couple (Watts and Roth) and their young son and dog are terrorized, tortured, and slowly murdered by two preppy, pseudo-gay young men in tennis whites. The end.
There’s nothing funny about “Funny Games.” The only joke is on you, if you shell out the ten bucks to see it.

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11 Responses

actually, both the movie and the writer/director is Austrian.
It might not be a huge difference, but for anyone familiar with German or German movies, is it a huge difference. Unfortunately, German movies suck just as much as Austrian ones…
[SF: THE WALL STREET JOURNAL CALLS HIM A “GERMAN-BORN AUSTRIAN DIRECTOR” AND THE FILM A “GERMAN-LANGUAGE” FILM. DS]

Schlusselfan on March 14, 2008 at 4:59 pm

I find it increasingly disturbing how “wrong” it is if two beautiful people “get it on” in a explicit way in a movie, while it seems to be morally allright to torture innocent people to death.
what we have here is more or less the emergence of Islamic values in the movie industry.
Austria was just one step ahead in this development. Hollywood not only kept up, but is now producing a never ending stream of snuff movies.
In my humble opinion, people who watch this, and people who make this, should be put in prison or worse.

Schlusselfan on March 14, 2008 at 5:09 pm

Schlusselfan…..what debbie said about the lesbian scene was exactly right. It is irrelevant, and has nothing to do with the damn plot. It was just forced in there to make the homosexuals “feeeeeel” good. You know that, and I know it…it was political correctness being forced here to sacrfiace whatever minutes could’ve been used to show the guy training more or something.
Why not have that scene in the uncut version?? And I doubt those women were beautiful. I’m 25 years old so you know I’m part of the current generation, but that doesn’t mean this sort of thing appeals to all of us. We wanna see movies for story, to see how it folds out. We don’t wanna be interupted by a damn political message!!!

Squirrel3D on March 14, 2008 at 5:17 pm

oops…. sorry… I never wanted to comment Debbie on that scene… I had a completely different discussion with a friend in my head… about morality in movies… I did not even read that karate kid part. I am not into this crap ;) sorry….. this was totally unintentional.
I had seen funny games 11 years ago and it ruined my day. It was NOT advertized as a snuff movie, which is what “torture porn” is. I just jumped right to the funny games part of the article.

Schlusselfan on March 14, 2008 at 5:26 pm

btw, I think this might not be about PC, as long as the women are “hot”, because a lesbian sex scene generally appeals to a wide audience; in other words, it was put in there to generate money.
a PC gay scene is usually either visually extremely unpleasant, gross, or/and involves 2 men, which does NOT appeal to a wide audience and will not make the movie “cool” in the eyes of the target group (teenagers).
PC is about forcing things down your throat and not about money, at least usually. then again, I haven’t seen the movie and it might well be that you are absolutely on target.

Schlusselfan on March 14, 2008 at 5:44 pm

So in other words, because those women were “haaaaawt” I have to accept it just cuz I’m a young guy?
While they’re making money, the guys much younger than me are being told that this is what a woman is. Basicly, they see women like this and think it’s normal…like they’re “hos” or something….objects. You odvoiusly don’t think about what the forcing of these things will do to the young mind.
Just because I was taught that this is not how to treat a woman, doesn’t mean other guys would. Mostly because their parents are psychonuts themselves! And I’m not gonna accept this forcing of homosexuality in any movie I watch unless they have relevance to the plot…and this one DID NOT.

Squirrel3D on March 14, 2008 at 9:01 pm

no. I was describing their reasoning. I did not say anyone has to like it, but in the minds of the idiots who make movies like this, they expect a large enough group to like it, which would get them more money than if they had not included this scene.
if you don’t like it, good for you. I did not try to excuse their plans, only to explain them.
and by the way: I think it matters little if it advances the plot or not. every plot is an artificial construction, not every plot is made into a movie. today, almost every movie comes with a more or less subtle “moral” message, which, I would guess, none of us would call “moral” in any way. I find it almost refreshing to see them throw in a unnecessary sex scene in a mediocre movie. it is almost honest. it speaks volumes about their confidence in the story… “look, we don’t think the movie is good enough, so we threw in something our marketing morons told us you would like”
what really makes me chuckle is the whole attitude the movie wants to display: “never back down”… which is kind of funny as Hollywood has been backing down since before the Vietnam war. They have backed down and allowed the most vile and treacherous ideas and ideals into our civilization. To make a movie with this title is as resiculous as it is appaling

Schlusselfan on March 14, 2008 at 10:10 pm

(ridiculous)

Schlusselfan on March 14, 2008 at 10:12 pm

From what I understand, the director of “Funny Games” wanted to make it a social commentary against the onscreen violence in the media. If thats the case, Id be interested in seeing it.

d2eux on March 16, 2008 at 1:46 am

please. PLEASE! try to imagine a movie that could not claim to be a “social commentary against (enter whatever comes to mind)”.
that is the line used when they have no other excuse left. it is like porn for people who love to see others suffer and tortured. there is no commentary. it’s like the NYT argued their newspaper were a social commentary against the leftist mainstream media. or rap is a social commentary against gang violence.
if you buy that, then what do you do here on Debbies website? how about some critical thinking?
beat your wife and tell her it is a social commentary against domestic violence. that is about the same kind of logic

Schlusselfan on March 16, 2008 at 1:53 pm

Funny Games deserves prosecution, rather than reviews. It is no more edifying than watching someone strangle a house cat on film.

Worry01 on March 16, 2008 at 9:09 pm

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