I feel strangely drawn to dumb action movies like The Condemned. Perhaps they remind me of much better action movies of the eighties and nineties but I digress. The story is as old as time, ten criminals are dropped on a tropical island where they have to fight to the death. Whoever is the last man standing gets to walk free. Queue Battle Royale, Death Race 2000, and Enter The Dragon comparisons. We’ll throw in Running Man in just because it’s such a good movie. The Condemned, however, is barely a decent one.
It’s a nice distraction when you don’t want to think too much or when you just want to trash the movie with your friends. The whole movie takes place on a deserted tropical island which is always a plus. The characters are stereotypical but fun as they were really leaning into this commercial action movie thing. They clearly knew they were not making a masterpiece so they just went with it. This is why we will get half-witty one-liners and those “intense” WWE stares. And yes, this is a WWE movie. Something that comes as no surprise since the star is Steve Stone Cold Austin.
The Marine, starring John Cena is a similar but slightly better movie. The thing that bothers me the most with The Condemned is their approach to action scenes. The camera is just too shaky for us to enjoy them properly. Apart from Austin we also have Vinnie Jones who stole the show here as the ruthless killer McStarley. I shouldn’t forget to mention a couple of beautiful and strong female characters that unfortunately do not get the chance to do more than be eye candy. Just as expected with this type of production.
An amoral television producer just got a million-dollar idea. He’s going to round up the world’s most ruthless criminals and make them fight for their freedom. Among them is Jack Conrad, a man with a mysterious past, awaiting execution in El Salvador. However, he’s just one of ten men and women who will soon find themselves on a deserted tropical island playing the most dangerous game.
I say that because the first movie to ever feature this type of a storyline was released back in 1932. The Most Dangerous Game follows a man who intentionally shipwrecks people so he could hunt them on an island. How ’bout that? With a running time of 106 minutes, The Condemned feels a bit drawn-out at times. Although these scenes give you enough time to go to the bathroom or reup on beer and other stuff.
It’s a definition of a background movie. Just make sure you’re there for the finale because it’s actually pretty good. Plus, I just love when the movie ends on a high note. The whole pay-per-view thing is also a nice touch, something of a novelty back then. One final note, Suzanne Collins wrote The Hunger Games back in 2008 citing channel surfing on television as her inspiration. Now, I’m not saying that The Condemned was on but…
Director: Scott Wiper
Writers: Scott Wiper, Rob Hedden, Andy Hedden
Cast: Steve Austin, Vinnie Jones, Nathan Jones, Rick Hoffman, Robert Mammone, Tory Mussett
Fun Facts: Austin and Jones played a lot of practical jokes on set. Steve placed inflatable sex dolls in Jones’s trailer and Jones in turn would litter his with autographed pictures of him posing.