‘Hell Ride': A Sundance Review

It’s got more gunplay than your local post office, enough close-ups of the female posterior to make Sir Mix-a-Lot blush, and so many dirty words it’ll likely be banned before you finish reading this sentence. Quentin Tarantino and his motley crew call it “Hell Ride,” and it sure is one helluva something.

What, exactly, depends on your own personal tolerance for murder, mayhem, mud-wrestling and Michael Madsen in a tree, doing an owl imitation.

The flick, which premiered this week at Sundance, follows two warring biker posses. Set in a surreal world where every woman wants a roll in the hay, and every man knows he can shoot another man in the crotch without any fear of interference from the police, it revolves around three keys labeled “666,” the 1976 murder of a biker babe and a whole lot of vengeance.

With Quentin producing and his alumni Madsen, Larry Bishop and Dennis Hopper in key roles, that should give “Ride” enough cred to recoup its $3 million budget. Meanwhile, the group is already talking trilogy here at Park City, so lock up your wives and daughters.

Quite frankly, I’ve seen pornos with less nudity (oops, did I just write that?). Somewhere around minute 15 and/or boob number 32, I watched a flood of females sneak out of the theater like Rhodes Scholars who’d accidentally bought tickets to a Larry the Cable Guy show. The movie is a male-empowerment fantasy and makes no bones about it.

As discussed previously, Madsen is a hoot as “The Gent,” a courteous killer clad in a tuxedo. Director/star Bishop plays his leader role like a white guy accidentally cast in a “Shaft” movie, and mere words cannot describe the sheer pleasure in watching Dennis Hopper (as crafty old-timer Eddie Zero) climb back onto a bike.

My biggest gripe with the flick is a simple one: All the tough talk rarely results in anything more than premature emasculation. Virtually all the “big battles” are too brief to be satisfying, especially the finale with a villainous Vinnie Jones.

“Hell Ride” is due in theaters later this year and, quite frankly, the Sundance cut making it to theaters seems only slightly less likely than GG Allin rising from the dead to open for the Spice Girls. But once it comes out on unrated DVD, I wouldn’t mind taking another twirl with this spaghetti Western.