Hell Ride

cast: Michael Madsen, David Carradine, Dennis Hooper, Larry Bishop, and Vinnie Jones

writer and director: Larry Bishop

80 minutes (18) 2008
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Warner DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by James A. Stewart

1960s’ star Larry Bishop (The Savage Seven) teams up with Quentin Tarantino in the genre-reviving bike-fest of movie Hell Ride – and the latter’s involvement is brandished all over this film. There are those elements which could be regarded as staple diets in his previous offerings, such as Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs – there’s the funky and edgy soundtrack, the re-emergence of long forgotten talent, the director playing a part in the movie, the choppy and wordy script and plenty of action. Oh, and I nearly forgot, Michael Madsen.

Whilst Tarantino is heavily involved, this is Bishop’s film and in many ways feels like a testimonial to his career. Hell Ride has come in for heavy criticism for its unabashed leanings to the Tarantino style, but that is not a bad thing. The film has much to admire. I can’t help feeling the criticism levelled is mainly down to the expectation raised by those involved in the movie, and in many cases is over the top. As a biker based, grind-house style film Hell Ride is very good.

Larry Bishop, who directed and wrote the screenplay, also plays a prominent role in the film as the head of a bike gang. In the movie, his gang are on a revenge mission to take down Billy Wings (played by the awful Vinnie Jones). Wings is the leader of the Six-Six-Sixes, a fearsome rival gang. The film then cruises across fantastic sets and locations and is a biker’s dream as choppers are shown aplenty and with unashamed glee. There are fight scenes galore as Pistolero (Larry Bishop) hunts Billy Wings down amid a trail of carnage and destruction, with some rather out place female flesh thrown in for good measure.

Michael Madsen in Hell Ride

As with most films associated with Tarantino, there is a sound and cult cast involved. The recently departed David Carradine follows on from his Kill Bill appearances with much aplomb as the evil Deuce, but is arguably underused in Hell Ride. Dennis Hopper plays pretty much Dennis Hopper (Easy RiderSpeed) and has the better of some of the dialogue in the movie which is a touch cumbersome at times. The veteran actor looks very comfortable with the bike back between his legs.

Michael Madsen and Eric Balfour also come across well but are not stretched as they play roles familiar to both them and fans of the Tarantino style. Indeed, Madsen’s is probably puts the most disappointing performance in the movie. But you have to bear in mind that the expectation levels associated with Vinnie Jones are low already.

All in all Hell Ride is an enjoyable and fun film. The dialogue is gratuitous at times, which is to be expected, the direction a bit too much of a homage, but as far as a chopper based action movie goes; it’s a hell of a ride