We all know success rarely has much to do with quality.
A teenager screaming into the camera conquers YouTube and hauls in a 90-year TV deal with a reincarnation option while guys like the director of Moon have to watch the Oscars from the squalor of their own well-heated, mortgage-free living rooms.
But take heart. Sometimes bad things die a quiet death. At most, they'll wash up in drug store bargain bins, like 2002's Eternal Gangstas.
D.A. Jackson is the perfect gangster: effective, loyal and supposedly bulletproof. But when he refuses to betray their boss, associate Kris Sharma turns the gang against Jackson -- including Russel Prine, a rogue assassin with mysterious ties to Jackson's past.
It's been a while since I saw a movie that was truly awful. I don't just mean one with an animated bear or Nicolas Cage as a crime-fighting, tap-dancing skeleton. I mean a movie so bad it makes your insides sad and 30 minutes in, realizing you have more than an hour left to go, your soul escapes your body with a plaintive wail.
Welcome to the magical journey that is Eternal Gangstas . The warning signs come fast and furious: the grainy, scrubbed-out cinematography. An audio track that sounds as if it were mixed underwater, possibly while battling a furious squid. And nonstop narration from Jackson's ice-cold gangster.
Why is this such a crime? Because Jackson constantly narrates the things we're seeing at this very moment, crushing the suspense harder than Humpty Dumpty at the 2003 Tulsa Sledgehammer and Dump Truck Full of Bricks Convention.
At its worst, Jackson retreats to a safehouse with his dead boss' girlfriend. As she yammers on, unheard beneath Jackson's interior monologue, he spends a full minute arguing with his own integrity about whether to bang her.
With all momentum successfully derailed, Jackson (who also wrote and directed) gives us additional time to contemplate our impending deaths by indulging in constant slow-motion. Flimsily-integrated flashbacks of old-timey warriors fighting to a standstill makes the film slower yet. Helpfully, however, these flashbacks are filtered deep red, just in case we'd mistake pirates crossing swords on a beach for urban gang warfare.
Not that it matters when the acting is the funniest part of a movie whose story is critically flawed. As Jackson's Matrix-y supernatural counterpart, Prine shows up once in the first 45 minutes. A vital character, that.
I'll give Eternal Gangstas this much: Jackson clearly knows all that kung fu he's busting out every other moment. He's so good at it even his movies will leave you feeling kicked in the balls and clubbed upside the head.
Rent with great caution, friends.
* Contact Ed Robertson at firstname.lastname@example.org. His fiction is available on Kindle through Amazon.