What at first seemed to be yet another touching women’s in prison flick about caring, sharing and extremely thorough strip searches by manly female guards at gunpoint, turned out to be something so much better, at least in most qualify able ways. Chained is the story of Julian, an ex con who because of his loyalty to a crime syndicate while being incarcerated is allowed what to most bad guys is the ultimate posh gig, to become caretaker of “the Farm” a posh bordello on the outskirts of Sydney Australia. But this is more than a house of prostitution, this is a also a house of destitution because it is run like a prison camp where missing European women are kept (perhaps in the most literal interpretation of the phrase) as sex slaves and subject to all manner of abuse and cruelty. Think you know what this movie is about yet? Well you are wrong. Turns out Julian isn’t a bad man after all, but just another guy trying to make the best of a bad situation who also suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder resulting from a childhood incident where his father butchered his dog right before his very eyes. It isn’t long before Julian starts to sympathize with the women and after a few flashbacks he starts to protect the women in the most direct way possible, by viciously killing the very men who come out there to abuse them for sport and pleasure. It isn’t long before the tables are turned and his boss Mr. Senti, a man Julian once went to jail to protect, starts to realize that Julian might actually might be the wrong man for the job, and they quickly seek to terminate him in a way that is low on paperwork, but rich with gunpowder smoke.
If you haven’t guessed by now, this is a Australian film; a period piece set in the 1970’s. While foreign films are always initially more difficult for me to get into, especially period pieces such as this from the 1970’s, this one was immediately accessible to me. While the background music isn’t anything that could remotely be considered authentic funk or even copyrighted, the fact that every car in the film was an authentic Australian muscle car that looked like an extra from a Mad Max movie made this at least as much an acceptable eye pleasing media anachronism as that abysmal Death Proof flick from a few years back so I am not going to judge it too harshly here. This film works only because the character of Julian is so gentlemanly, so white knight that when set against the disgusting appetites and habits of his criminal cohorts he is almost seen as a figure worthy of sainthood. He does not touch the girls, he does not abuse alcohol or drugs and he seems personally tormented by his childhood trauma. Couple this with the fact he looks like a cross between a Don Johnson with Colin Farrell and you have a sexploitation movie that even your wives and girlfriends can endure and perhaps enjoy (finally).In fact I wanted to give this movie five stars, but there were a couple things that bothered me.
For one thing the undercover police in this movie were terribly inept and almost comedic with their lack of reliablility and Keystone Cops procedures. I know this is a budget picture set in the 70’s and authentic police gear costs money to acquire, but there is a scene where they raid the farm itself (in a whopping three man squad) driving a common car pulling a Winnebago which could only have seemed synched perfectly to the Benny Hill theme or perhaps something from the circus. Another thing is while the film is very well shot using symbolism, reoccurring themes and artsy camera angles that borrow chapters from film school that most B movie directors have already forgotten, the simple special effects of the action sequences were heavily, needlessly digitized. This troubles me, as there was so much work put into making this film seem beautifully tragic, horribly gritty and yet the exact visual details of the the explosions, the arterial spray even the gunshots itself were rendered unrealistically, antiseptically even, which siphoned the fuel of the revenge fantasy that these things must have to burn twice as bright in their second half to succeed when the “good guy” picks up a gun.
And finally, I am deducting a fifth star for sending me a shit copy with the words “review copy not for retail sale” flashing on my screen and no plastic case included with the DVD. I say to MTI as to you all, this isn’t a paid gig and building the most badass movie collection is one of the bigger reasons why I do this. If you can’t spring for a plastic case and an actual retail copy I don’t want any more of your crap so stop sending it to me. There are plenty of other film companies who actually desire my input on their works, film companies that send me an actual finished retail product. Though you may think me a snob, I am such a purist when it comes to film that as much as liked this flick I will use it as a coaster for my mug O’ ale, simply because your cardboard sleeve and your worthless package production values insult me, MTI; which is a shame because truth be told, the past two films I reviewed for you are actually desirable.