"Eternal Gangstas" is more confusing than a weasel driving a steamshovel. It's best to make that clear from the get-go, so that you don't feel bad if you get a little lost later on. Let me give you an example. The first time I watched the movie, the DVD was so messed up that it skipped a half hour's worth of scenes. I missed a full thirty minutes of the plot, and I didn't even notice. I was already so lost that the completely random transitions didn't phase me in the least. The only reason I even realized there was a problem was that the movie ended up being only seventy minutes long, and that's a little short, even for the kind of crap I watch every other week for your amusement. I managed to clean up the disc before I watched it again, so I did end up seeing all of those missing scenes, but I'll be honest - it didn't help. I did get to see some more fight scenes, however, and that was a plus. D. Al'Deighmian Jackson, who wrote, directed, starred, and did the sound editing for the movie also choreographed the fight scenes, and he did some terrific work. If more low budget stuff has action of this quality, my job would be a lot easier. Jackson put together some great fights, and he acts them out with impressive skill. Unfortunately, he doesn't have quite the same level of talent when it comes to writing, directing, and sound work. The script is full of cliches and stolen lines, the movie feels like it was directed by an epileptic with ADD and a cattle prod jammed up his ass, and I swear to God, every single sound effect is straight from a video game - specifically Doom and the Tekken series, I believe.
Hey, motion blur! That's an effect that never gets old! Right? RIGHT?
We join the story in medias res, which is Latin for "the writer couldn't come up with a beginning." Our protagonist (D.A. Jackson himself), if this epic morality play could truly be said to have one, is on the floor. His name is Grey, which is apt, considering semi-cool-but-not-really gray streak in his hair, and the completely and utterly lame gray streak on his eyebrow. I didn't even know it was possible to go gray on just half of an eyebrow, but then, I'm not an eternal gangsta like Grey. Grey is soft-spoken, but his inner monologue fuels the movie. In both cases, he is dubbed atrociously. I'm not convinced that it's even Jackson's real voice. Honestly, I hope it isn't. It would suck for a buff black guy like Jackson to go through life sounding like a Steven Seagal impersonator. It doesn't help that he's spouting lines like "I've always felt I was on the verge of detonation. But now... now I think I've triggered the countdown." Sure you have, Grey. Sure you have. D.A. Jackson spices up the experience of watching a man attempting to get up with his favorite visual effect - transposing transparent images of the same shot from different angles over one another. He uses that technique every chance he gets, even when it doesn't help. I have to give him credit for even bothering to shoot the same scene from multiple angles. That shows more effort then some directors I can think of (Mack Hail, I'm randomly looking in your direction). Grey explains that all of his problems started two days ago.
People were a lot redder back then.
Of course, by "two days ago," Grey in fact meant "in China, circa 1440 AD," so that is where the transition takes us. There, a group of armed men carrying some sort of object of value come across a peasant sitting on a stump. Rather than going around the peasant, which would make sense, since they'd have to go around the stump anyway, the men order him to move. Now, I didn't know this, but apparently in the past people used to speak with a whole shitload of reverb. Strange but true! D.A. Jackson loves reverb. In fact, he loves it so much that he adds a hearty dose of it to every fucking song in the entire score. Hooraaaaaaaaaay. The peasant responds by throwing a roll into the air and killing all but one of the armed men. The last one is a much stronger fighter - not one to be fooled by a mere thrown roll - and he and the peasant wail on each other for a little while, neither one gaining a real advantage, roll-based or otherwise.
We zip back to what I have to assume is actually the "two days ago" Grey meant. I'm sure he actually does have some sort of conception of time, it was just a bad time for a flashback is all. Grey is driving to nowhere specific when he gets a call from Al, his employer and friend, and also the smiliest, thickest mob boss in the history of somewhat organized crime. Al asks him to take care of a situation with Alex Ye's gang in Chinatown. Then it's time for a hearty dose of credits.
Poor Al. With a smile like that, you know he can't last more than twenty minutes.
When all that silliness is over with, a graphic informs us that this is "Day 1." As the letters appears on the screen one by one, they are accompanied by gunshot sounds. I'm serous when I say they're from a video game. And we're talking about an old school video game, here. At best, Virtua Cop. Say what you will about D.A. Jackson's directorial stylings, at least he sets the pace for the rest of the movie right up front, so you aren't surprised when he continues to fuck things up later on.
Al addresses a handful of his employees about how much he loves Grey. For the kingpin of a crime syndicate, Al discusses his feelings a wee bit too much. He also tends to use phrases like "where the devil is my wife" and won't abide any cursing in his house. His most trusted employees understand this, which is why when one of the lesser henchmen has the nerve to mutter a naughty word about Grey, Al's trusty battle wench Rakiesha puts a knife to his throat. It may be a syndicate of pussies, but at least they're resolute about being pussies. You can't begrudge them that. Well, you could, but it would be a waste of mental energy, and believe me, you're going to need every brain cell you can spare when things really get going.
You know, I have that same comforter at home. Woods and Illiana had sex on that one, too.
If you were wondering just where the devil Al's wife Illiana actually is, the answer is in bed with Woods, one of Al's most trusted men. Illiana makes an interesting choice as an actress. She likes to keep the movie going at a nice, quick pace, so she is always sure to begin her next line while the other person is finishing theirs. Her zest for delivering her lines as soon as humanly possible eliminates the pesky things like "dramatic pauses" and "emotion" that so often bog down lesser films. Illiana and Woods discuss what to do about Al, and more importantly, what to do about Grey, who is supposedly invincible. Speaking of which, Grey gives a demonstration of his invincibility by walking up to some big fat guy outside Alex Ye's hideout, who basically just stands there and waits for Grey to take him out with some slick kung fu. With each blow that lands, we hear a sound that makes me wait to hear the familiar cry of "sonic boom!" So yes, Grey is in fact invincible when facing fat guys who don't fight back. His success rate against fatties is so high, in fact, that he will take out several more as the film progresses.
Elsewhere, a trash-talking white guy known as the Mongoose takes on an entire street gang in a game of basketball. Amazingly enough, Mongoose wins. Or at least, he says he wins. There's no way to be sure, since during the basketball montage, we never actually see him touching the giant red jawbreaker they're using as a ball. That's another problem "Eternal Gangstas" can't seem to shake - oddly horrible colorization. I don't actually know who's to blame for that, so I'm just going to assume it's D.A. Jackson. After Mongoose's victory, the gang decides that they'd really rather not pay him the money the bet him, and instead they'd like to beat him up. Unfortunately for them, Mongoose has seen "Shaolin Soccer" and knows the fine art of bouncing a ball off of multiple opponents in one shot and knocking them all out. That's when Mongoose gets a call from someone who wants him for a job. Yarr, the plot, she thickens!
Grey - kicking ass and taking names. Names of asses, that is.
Whilst Mongoose is making short work of one gang, Grey deals with another - Alex Ye's band of Chinese hooligans. Fun fact: the Chinese language has seventy words for "hooligan," but no word for "viking." It's true! Having already shown off his ability to land hand-to-hand attacks that make video game sounds, Grey now seizes the opportunity to demonstrate that he can make video game sound effects with his guns, too. I'm just thankful that they're not the same sounds. True to his hype, Grey shoots his way through the entire gang without getting so much as a scratch. He grabs the case that he was sent for, then returns to Al's home. Al is quite pleased by Grey's work, as demonstrated by the "I'm really just a weak figurehead, somebody betray me" grin plastered on his face. Woods eventually shows up, but is discouraged to learn that Grey handled the whole situation. Illiana enters shortly after, and Al sends everyone else away so that he can have an unintelligible, reverb-intensive argument with his wandering wife. As Grey and Woods share an elevator ride, Woods mentions Al's failing health and proposes that the two of them should share control of the organization after the old man makes like a tree and dies. Grey ponders how Woods could know about Al's supposedly secret condition. He considers the short list of people he thinks Al might tell. It includes him and "Maybe... maybe... Illiana?" Gee, you think? Is it possible that he could have confided in his own wife, and not just his mysterious hired killer? Could the world really work in such unfathomably mysterious ways? Grey just tells Woods to watch his back, then heads to his apartment to give this matter more consideration. Somewhat less than thrilled with the way that conversation went, Woods makes a quick phone call. If I didn't know better, I'd say he's up to something!
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