In tradition to the motorcycle flicks made popular in the late ’60s and early ’70s, Hell Ride basically plays out like a broken record, repeating gratuitous nudity, vindictive violence, and ceaseless drug use regardless of whether or not it makes any sense at all. It can be amusing (at times I did have fun with it) if you can subdue the fact that the nonsensical storyline (somewhat cleared up in the special features) is just a condonable way for Larry Bishop to exploit himself in a role that provides tons of female persuasion for him to vex and seduce.
Introduced in the opening scene are three center-stage characters titled Pistolero (Larry Bishop), The Gent (Michael Madson), and Comanche (Eric Balfour), who are the leading members of the biker gang known as The Victors. After the murder of one of their well-respected members, The Victors are determined to find the gang responsible. Fingers are pointed at The Victors’ rival gang known as The 666ers and they are willing do whatever it takes to make them literally spill their guts. Hell Ride also features cameo appearances by David Carradine and Dennis Hopper
It isn’t exactly the pompous acting that spoils the film’s reputation (keep in mind these characters are suppose to be self-centered badasses), but mainly the inefficient scripting and dreadful dialog. The search for a missing safety deposit box and the battle between two ruthless biker gangs seemed to be the two main roots of the story and are scattered poorly throughout the film. Subplots include a lost love, betrayal, and rebellion.
I like the sex, drugs, and violence theme that Larry Bishop has surrounding the storyline, which is occasionally depicted with some charisma. What I didn’t like was the fact that this obviously distracted him from his central storyline, which is the whole thing behind the missing safety deposit box. This portion of the story seemed to be lost in the mix until nearing the final act, where Bishop suddenly realizes he must somehow squeeze this very important plot into the ending.
The violence is done fairly well, some scenes are decently shot and resemble a throwback to biker flicks, and it’s jam-packed with a high quota of beautiful topless woman. It does, at times, come mighty close to revamping the biker genre. It’s trashy, malevolent, and occasionally entertaining as well. However, the dialog is devoid of brainpower (it tries so hard to image Tarantino’s wit but fails miserably) and, thanks to Bishop’s convoluted storyline, the attempt at possibly bringing back the lifeless biker genre has now become less probable.
By no means a good movie and just a notch above what I would consider mediocre filmmaking, Hell Ride does have some potential to be a gritty, rough-and-tough biker flick but doesn’t quite have enough to lighten up a dying genre. If Tarantino had revised the script, making the appropriate adjustments in dialog, storyline, and editing, it is possible this would be an accomplished piece of grindhouse art. But unfortunately he didn’t, therefore it’s not.
Special features are a must-see if renting the film. Included in the special features is the much needed clarification of the story and some interesting facts about the movie itself. Also, a few featurettes about the babes, bikes, and tough characters, a video diary, and a theatrical trailer. 2/5 stars