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DVD Review: Hell Ride

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Written by Fantasma el Rey

From writer/director/star Larry Bishop (yes, Joey’s son) comes Hell Ride! A romping, stomping, “whopper of a chopper opera” that moves fast and is filled with “bikes, beer, and booty.” It may not be fun for all, but if you find classic biker flix to your liking, then Hell Ride is the ride for you. There are no major plot twists or turns that come out of nowhere (Bishop is wise to leave that sort of thing to a guy like Scorsese), and there is a bit too many naked girls running around (if it’s truly possible to have too many) but for 83 minutes I was lost in the spaghetti-western, B-movie film-noir yarn of biker law and honor.

The plot is a simple one that revolves around the biker brotherhood of The Victors MC settling an old score with revived rival outlaw biker clan The Six-Six-Six-ers and its leader Billy Wings (Vinnie Jones). Cool names abound as Victors’ prez Pistolero (Bishop) attempts to finally close the case and keep his word to a murdered love (Cherokee Kisum played by Julia Jones) lost 32 years ago in a drug deal gone bad. With his two lieutenants, The Gent (Michael Madsen) and the young Comanche (Eric Balfour), who is more than he appears to be, at his side Pistolero aims to right past wrongs, purge his crew of traitors and turncoats, and put to rest some of the demons that have plagued his heart and soul for over 30 years.

Along the way the bonds of brotherhood are reaffirmed, throats are cut, people set a blaze, mysteries solved, and the outlaws ride off into the sunset to continue living the dream. There are also biker orgies to attend, booze to consume, wonderful weapons of all kinds to use, and old friends to revisit as the “classic” outlaw lifestyle of the never-ending party is played up as well as biker lore of how one earns their colors, wings, and other honors.

With 20 days and not a lot of cash to shoot this thing Bishop delivers a film that is at times a bit overplayed, hokey (the peyote scene), and a tad too deep into “the pussy,” yet overall entertaining. Bishop stays clear of tired antics to try and make his film appear as a lost gem of the past. There are no grainy film prints or missing frames. Just a simple attempt to continue and improve upon the way he made movies nearly 40 years ago when he put out films like The Savage Seven. Bishop has turned out a modern western with motorcycles replacing horses and leather vests in place of black hats.

The cast played a big part in the shaping of Hell Ride as well. If not already bike savvy, they became so while adding what they could to the characters they portrayed. Madsen is the strongest as The Gent, with his idea to play the role in a tux; as horrid as that sounds he pulls it off well. Dennis Hopper and David Carradine have small parts that stand out just as much as Leonor Varela and Laura Cayouette in roles of the important women in Pistolero’s life.

The DVD special features do a fine job in going into what Bishop was trying to do with Hell Ride and why those involved got on board. The extras also include a closer look at the authentic and very mean-looking bikes used in the movie as well as the chicks used in the film. There is also audio commentary that cracks open the wacky mind of Bishop who is fun to listen to as he explains his reasons and inspiration for certain shots and scenes.

So if a simple run through the desert with badass bikers, hot girls, and a straightforward story with a few holes sounds like a good time, check out Larry Bishop’s Hell Ride. I did and got a kick start out of it, but then again, I love such dirty, bloody, lowdown tales of outlaws that blur the lines of good and evil. Some are better than others, but if you can forget the world for an hour and a half and lose yourself in another one, then mission accomplished.

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