Bad Ass

Director: Craig Moss (2012)
Starring: Danny Trejo, Ron Perlman, Charles S. Dutton
Find it: IMDB

Danny Trejo plays internet meme Frank Vega in Bad Ass, a film about a man who beats up some ne'er-do-wells on a bus. This heartwarming tale is adapted from a real-life incident in which a bearded Vietnam veteran beats the piss out of a ne'er-do-well on a bus, earning himself the moniker 'Epic Beard Man'. Trejo turns the moustache into a epic beard for Bad Ass, but leaves out the bit where Vega was called Thomas Bruso, was white, had severe mental disorders, and actually beat up one black man instead of two white skinhead thugs. Which man was in the right or wrong is debatable, but what we do know is that neither man was Danny Trejo and the event was not as clear cut as Bad Ass makes it out to be. This is a man who rides around on public transport wearing a t-shirt with 'I am a motherfucker' written on the back, after all.

Given that a punch up on a bus takes all of five minutes, that leaves the filmmakers with another eighty minutes worth of film to make. Do they spend that time with Frank Vega in Vietnam? Or show how he knocked out his own father when he was fifteen? Or how his mother put him in the oven when he was a baby? (The latter we can assume never happened to Vega, given his cute, slightly creepy relationship with his cuddly on-screen mom here). No, Bad Ass invents a story about Vega's friend being murdered, leaving the angry pensioner to track down those responsible. It's like Death Wish or Harry Brown, but with a fanny pack and a epic beard.

Ron Perlman and Charles S. Dutton are there to spice up the story a little, but they're barely in it. Trejo does fine as Vega, but his beard looks like shit and even he can't hide the fact that the film has nothing relevant to actually say. Director Craig Moss, veteran of such classy pieces as Breaking Wind Part 1 and 30 Nights of Paranormal Activity with the Devil Inside the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo struggles with the tone, resulting in a film that feels like it should be a lot funnier than it is. There's mileage to be had in seeing Trejo battering the piss out of a group of gangbangers (which he can still do more plausibly than, say, Steven Seagal) and his fight with a giant Bond villain knock-off is a lot of fun, but Epic Beard Man: The Movie (a title they should totally have kept) largely comes up wanting. At least it's better than Machete Kills, though.

Somehow, Bad Ass did well enough to get itself a sequel - Bad Asses, co-starring Danny Glover is on its way later this year - but the joke was already wearing thin after five minutes. Stallone should probably let Trejo in his Expendables now, if only to stop him from making Straight to DVD shit like this. Bad Ass is anything but(t). 

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