Dangerous Men

| April 12, 2016

The late John S. Rad’s Dangerous Men—produced over the course of 26 years before finally being released in 2005—is a film unlike any other I’ve ever seen. I mean, its constituent parts are all clearly sourced from any number of 1980’s action movies/rape-revenge movies, making it highly derivative in a sense. Yet, these particular elements have never even remotely been put together in precisely this way before or since. It’s a film so odd, unpredictable and perplexing that watching it just may make you crazier by association.

As a narrative film, Dangerous Men resists any semblance of traditional coherence, opting instead to switch gears on a dime and present us with no fewer than five protagonists. Cinematically, the experience is equally maddening as the incessant, often narratively counterproductive music (by Rad himself, just as everything else in the film was) makes you wish for but a moment of silence, and there is at least one fight scene in which the same punch/scream combo sound effect is played some two dozen times or more in a row. Bikers wear temporary tattoos on their faces, a woman pulls a knife out of her butt, police carry badges reading “Policeman Police,” and one character is, I kid you not, reading his dialogue from the film’s script in full view of the camera, highlighted dialogue and all! It’s an incredibly bewildering experience from beginning to end, and I mean that in the most positive of ways.

Though I know Dangerous Men’s already garnered a cult following, the size of its following is guaranteed to increase exponentially with the film’s release to home video from Drafthouse Films and MVD Entertainment Group. The only film I can, in good conscience, compare Dangerous Men to is maybe Samurai Cop (1991), which is high praise coming from me as I consider Samurai Cop to be the gold standard of bad movies. As with Amir Shervan and Samurai Cop, John Rad made Dangerous Men in all seriousness with exactly the sort of artistic aspiration I look for from filmmakers, which can occasionally result in such glorious camp as this.

Now, the special features on the home video release of Dangerous Men are filled with fans declaring this to be, essentially, the greatest bad movie of all time, but it falls just short of that in my eyes. Right off the bat, I find it hard to enjoy the film’s campiness when so much of the film is predicated on depictions of attempted sex crimes. Some people have no problem with rape in media, but I for one cannot stomach it. So that’s a mark against the film in my book. Furthermore, when compared to something like a Samurai Cop, Dangerous Men has enough slow spots characterized simply by people walking that it isn’t able to make the vast number of minute mistakes we find in Samurai Cop, which gets something wrong approximately every two seconds.

Still, you can chock all this up to my subjective preference for one movie over the other, and really, to say one of these films makes more mistakes than another is simply splitting hairs. They’re both incredible in their own ways. What I can say for Dangerous Men that finds me recommending it without reservation to fans of bad movies, though, is that Dangerous Men is in every way wholly unpredictable. As such, you simply can’t pry your eyes off the thing!

Again, Dangerous Men comes to Blu-ray, DVD and Digital from Drafthouse Films and MVD Entertainment Group, and it’s packed with bonus content. The Blu-ray packaging includes reversible cover art and a 16-page booklet featuring an LA Weekly interview with John S. Rad circa 2005. Disc-based features include commentary by Destroy All Movies authors Zack Carlson and Bryan Connell, a documentary about the film’s theatrical release and Rad’s family, a local access television appearance by John S. Rad, an interview with director of photography Peter Palian, and trailers.

About the Author:

Jef is a writer and educator in Chicago, Illinois. He holds a degree in Media & Cinema Studies from DePaul University, but sometimes he drops it and picks it back up again. He's also the Editor-in-Chief of FilmMonthly.com and is fueled entirely by coffee (as if you couldn't tell).
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