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A tale of two converging stories. One, a crime boss finds himself in deep sh*t when his loony of a daughter escapes her mental hospital confines, out for revenge. The boss sends out two of his men to go find her. The other story involves a stripclub named 'Toxic' and its inhabitants. Eventually, both stories come together, resulting in epileptic action sequences. It makes perfect sense!
'Uh, what?' That's what I kept saying to myself as I watched Alan Pao's TOXIC, trying to figure out something resembling a coherent plot. Of course, this is all the while I'm trying to figure out if I was suffering from Attention Deficit Disorder.
Written by Corey Large and Kyle Kramer, TOXIC is another of those films for those who don't like to think too much when it comes to their action. Or maybe it isn't, since you'll end up wondering just what's going on. Adding to the confusion are the quick cuts, the split screen shots, and the clever-yet-awkward camera angles. Eventually, the plot settles down after it takes its Ritalin, but those wacky editing jobs remain.
Casting-wise, the film boasts a selection of actors that would put most Direct-to-Video efforts to shame (take that however you like). Tom Sizemore, Susan Ward, Corey Large, Charity Shea, Dominique Swain, Danny Trejo, Bai Ling, Master P and Ron Jeremy get in on the act. However, despite all the 'wonderful' B-list talent, it's all so-so as we've seen these characters all before. Sizemore does his usual thug thing, Danny Trejo reprises his mean hitman persona, Bai Ling does her character from THE CROW, and so on.
The biggest knock is that like the actors doing their usual routines, you've seen this sort of film time and time again, especially from better films like PULP FICTION. Selling the sizzle instead of the steak, as they say, except the steak isn't all that great to begin with. Nothing revolutionary, just crazy-ass edits to go with the ho-hum action on the screen, with a side order of digital bullet hits and blood and half-naked women with characters you could care less of. Because that's all you need, apparently.
Video: The 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer looks pretty good. Looking beyond the obvious use of bleaching and super-saturation, the transfer is clean, with no noise, print damage or edge enhancement. The digital effects of bullet hits and blood are really obvious at times, though.
Audio: Like the tempo on the screen, the Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround track is equally aggressive and frenetic. Mixing this film to match the editing must have been hell, since voices and sounds move around like crazy. Dialogue is clear and crisp, though the bass is kind of weak in spots.
Yay! We get nothing but startup trailers for other Weinstein DTV films. Hell, we don't even get this one's theatrical trailer.
Put it this way: Why watch stuff you've seen time and time again with so-so results, when you can watch it done better with the stuff you've seen time and time again? TOXIC isn't as intoxicating a film as Alan Pao would like you to think, and really, with a DVD like this, you're better off renting THE TRANSPORTER, PULP FICTION and other actionfests that have both style and some substance.