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Unbearable ‘XXX: Uncensored Unrated’

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With the impending release of XXX: State of the Union in theatres next week I guess the world was overdue for a new special edition of the original XXX on DVD. This release supposedly isn’t just about getting extra features though, apparently you also get the “Uncensored Unrated Director’s Cut” of the film. Funny that an unrated film would start off saying that it has a rating of PG-13 though, isn’t it?

Regardless of the rating, I was looking forward to seeing XXX again. For one thing there’s Vin Diesel. Vin Diesel is one of the most watchable action stars out there today and the role of Xander is a really perfect fit for him. On top of that you’ve got a rockin’ soundtrack, huge stunts, and lots of spy action with guns and gadgets, so I couldn’t help but wonder what I’d think of it a second time around.

Despite all those great moments though XXX is anything but a good movie, even when you throw in some extra spice in the form of an “Uncensored Unrated Director’s Cut” it still feels like another retread of the same old, same old.

In the film Vin Diesel stars as the fun loving, adventure maniac Xander, who happens to get snatched up by the government to go on a secret mission that the good old spy boys (i.e. the James Bond-type character we see getting offed at the start of the film) can’t seem to handle. It’s not long before Xander makes friends with his target and uncovers more bad news for the world inside the group’s secret castle lair. Along the way there’s shoot outs, explosions, extreme sport stunts, and a whole bunch of other silliness.

Where XXX quickly fails is in the fact that nothing feels original. Perhaps teenagers can sit down and see this film as something fresh, but anyone older than 20 may have a hard time seeing anything but another action-spy film with a bunch of bigger, badder stunts. That would be enough to keep some films entertaining, but for such a big action movie XXX is surprisingly slow and boring. The first half of the film flies by with some awesome moments but it quickly loses steam after Xander gets to work.

Although I also didn’t really enjoy the script, or how everything comes together in the story, I don’t think this is a worthless film, it just doesn’t explode the way it should. I mean come on, the film looks so good – all those big, big, big stunts are shot brilliantly. And on top of that the world could use a new spy franchise to replace the aging Bond films, so what better way to do it than with extreme sports built in and a music video opening that let’s you know this ain’t another Bond flick? Sure, it’s a bit cheesy, but Vin Diesel makes it work because he takes it seriously in his own way. He just couldn’t overcome the fact that the script blows chunks – huge chunks. Chunks the size of Texas.

Samuel L. Jackson is also not in his best form here, which I mainly blame on director Rob Cohen who just doesn’t seem to pull everything together. He does his little tricks to make the film cooler, but he’s not at his best.

So what about this whole “uncensored” bit? Well, it’s pretty hard to tell the difference. About the only things I spotted were a few extra seconds of nudity followed by one woman doing a slightly dirty bump-and-grind dance on top of a bed for Xander. Generally speaking I don’t think this fits the bill of being a “Director’s Cut”, or even that “Uncensored”, but I’m sure just putting that on the DVD will sell a few thousand extra discs.

Basically, with or without any extras XXX hasn’t aged well, it ends with a crappy “chase” scene, and it makes me feel like I have to keep putting everything in “quotes”. The only reason you’d ever want to check it out is for Vin Diesel and perhaps Michael Roof as Agent Toby Lee Shavers who kind of does a surprisingly good little performance. Marton Csokas as Yorgi is also pretty good, even if he is just a caricature of those standard foreign bad guys we see all the time.

But what about the features? Well, there’s more boredom packed in here too. The director’s commentary is slow and awkward (although his commentary might be interesting to would-be directors looking for some inside concepts on making films), and you also get a look into XXX: State Of The Union (where Ice Cube looks pretty lame). About the only cool feature is the Filmmakers Diary which can be pretty entertaining.

What bothered me with the whole DVD was one final element someone felt they had to throw in. For whatever reason Diesel decided he didn’t want to do a sequel and as you can probably bet, that didn’t make him very popular with anyone who wanted to do a second film. Which brings us to the “Uncensored” and “Unrated” “Death Of Xander” add-on which features cussing, a slightly neked lady, a guy posing for Vin Diesel, and well, general stupidity. This dumb little mini-ending to the film shows us how Diesel’s Xander buys the farm. It’s pretty stupid and obviously just a final jab at Diesel and a way to tell the fans that he won’t ever come back again… still, maybe the best idea would have been saving it for the next DVD… you know, the one that doesn’t freaking star Vin Diesel in it? Just a thought.

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About W. Andrew Powell

W. Andrew Powell lives, sleeps, eats, and breaths movies and entertainment. Since launching The GATE in 1999 Andrew has enjoyed being a pest to any publicist who would return his calls. In his "spare time," Andrew is also an avid photographer, and writes about leisure travel and hotels around the world.
  • http://draven99.blogspot.com Chris Beaumont

    I actually enjoyed this film, a sort of urban alternative to the James Bond films. I am just trying to decide if the double dip is worth it.

    I could have sworn that I had read somewhere that it was the filmmakers who decided to make it an anthology type series with a new triple X, but I wouldn’t put it past Diesel pulling out, like he did on The Fast and the Furious.

    The new one doesn’t look that good, they seem to have dropped all that was different about the first, and making it even more generic, but Lee Tamahori has made good movies before….

  • Bennett Dawson

    and it makes me feel like I have to keep putting everything in “quotes”.

    Hilarious!!! Great review. Keep ‘em coming.

    Bennett

  • http://breakingwindows.com/ Ken Edwards

    Isn’t this the THIRD release of XXX?

  • http://www.thegate.ca/blog W. Andrew Powell

    Technically I think the UMD release is the third version, but I’m not positive – I think there might have been another hidden out there somewhere.

    And thanks Bennett, I appreciate it.

    As for Diesel – I get the feeling he backed out. That death scene on the DVD just seems plain spiteful.

  • http://www.booklinker.blogspot.com Deano

    I rather enjoyed the first XXX movie, partially because it was such a step up from the recent Bond films – just plain more fun, despite the improbable plot (who launches a WMD weapon from a robot mini-sub, in land-locked Czechoslovakia? That’s a bit of a reach even for the stereotypical Bondian villan. Well, maybe not for Hank Scorpio…).

    I was hugely disaapointed when I found out the sequel didn’t include Vin Diesel as I thought he brought a lot of energy to the first movie – essentially he elevated it above the usual crap. I have no opinion on Ice Cube but having seen him in some other b-movie flicks, I can state that I ain’t a gonna be paying no eight bucks fer this one….