Into every generation a slayer is born, not the spunky little lady we love and know as Buffy, but the muscular ex-soldier known as Shawn Black. The box art for “The Bleeding” focuses on some larger names who make very small appearances like Armand Assante and DMX, but I have to stop and take notice when two of my favorite on screen tough guys, Michael Madsen and Vinnie Jones, appear together for the first time since Larry Bishop’s fantastic ode to the biker film “Hell Ride”. So I jumped in to this one expecting a cult classic. That isn’t exactly what I received, though it was a fun film and well worth a viewing or two.
Shawn Black (Michael Matthias) is an ex-Army Ranger with a score to settle. After being left for dead and his parents brutally murdered, he will stop at nothing to find out the truth. In his search he meets up with Tagg (DMX) who knows what Black might be up against and knows what black is…a slayer. He sends black to Father Roy (Michael Madsen) who helps him wage a war against the ruthless Cain (Vinnie Jones). Black is prepared to deal with anything but the evil that Cain encompasses is much more terrifying than anything he has dealt with before.
“The Bleeding” isn’t so much a film that fails than it is a victim of budget constraints, and it really shows. It’s a shame, since there was a lot of good talent on the screen, just never used properly or underused. I think my main gripe about the film was the voice over narration. A tough device to use in an effective manner and even tougher to sell, especially when the scripts weakest point is the dialogue. I wouldn’t have had a problem with an introduction and maybe a wrap-up, throughout the film was just too much. There were some technical issues as well, the film looked overly grainy and some of the night shots were just too dark to see what was happening. I won’t go to deep into the editing, choppy cuts and continuity errors galore.
The film was entertaining, despite its shortcomings. Though the dialogue drove me nuts, the story itself was fun enough. The acting was questionable at times but I really feel that the awkward dialogue messed up some of the less seasoned performers. Though there was never much character development, Michael Matthias makes a solid hero. He reminded me a bit of former WCW/WWE wrestler/actor Bill Goldberg. The highlight for me was the scenes featuring Madsen. If you have read my reviews before, you’ll know that I have a bit of a heterosexual man-crush on Michael Madsen and he continued to deliver here. Vinnie Jones seemed to enjoy his role as Cain, but he may have just worn the most ridiculous wig I have ever seen in a film. We are also treated to cameos by Armand Assante as the detective investing the death of Black’s family and tattoo artist extraordinaire, the very lovely Kat Von D.
The film tries to follow a similar path that was led by Marvel’s “Blade” films. It never comes near those films but there were some pretty spectacular stunts throughout. The films final act features a great action sequence/car chase that rivals most Hollywood produced action films. I’m guessing that director Charlie Picerni called in a few favors since he has spent several decades as a stuntman and coordinator on many hit films and t.v. shows. Most films fall apart in their final act but I really feel that’s when “The Bleeding” steps up. It’s reported that the film had a budget of roughly $7 million and that is such an incredibly small amount these days. With a few more bucks in their pocket and a dialogue polish, this could have been B-movie bliss, instead it ended up being fun for a bit, but mostly disappointing.