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Thursday, 7 April 2011

Review: Hobo With A Shotgun (18) ★★★
A homeless vigilante blows away crooked cops, pedophile Santas, and other scumbags with his trusty pump-action shotgun.

Hobo With A Shotgun was originally a fake trailer associated with Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez's Grindhouse project. It won it's competition and was chosen to be tagged along with Edgar Wright, Eli Roth and others additions.
Machete was the first of the fake trailers to be made into a movie (good fun but nothing more) and now Hobo get's it chance.

Before I begin I think it's important to know that I think Tarantino and Rodriguez missed the whole point of what Grindhouse was actually about. Grindhouse is exploitational, dirty, unclean and controversial film making. Made on a budget and delivered in the quickest, cheapest possible means. Underground movie making that was for a particular clientèle. What Tarantino and Rodriguez did was try and make a pale Hollywood imitation and bring it to the mainstream. It failed. Box Office returns where poor and they were more or less critically panned. Machete also fell into this trap.

I believe the reason for this is that the audience who deal in exploitation films weren't interested in Hollywood's interpretation of what Grindhouse is and those that did saw it based on the film makers reputations and just didn't get it. So taking this into consideration how does Hobo compare?

The good news is that it's much better than the T&R entries. It knows and respects it's audience and as such delivers on what Grindhouse and Machete doesn't. However that's not to say its a great film, in fact name me an exploitation film that is, it just is what it is, a grubby, insane, underground exploitation film. Which is what it needed to be.

So what's Hobo all about then? Well at its core it's about vigilantism and a desire to do good. These traits are all displayed by the titular Hobo played by an eager Rutger Hauer.

After arriving in a new town our hobo (his name is never revealed) witnesses such atrocities as bum fights (based on the sick real online videos), decapitation, murder, rape, drug abuse and a corrupt police force. When he's sees a prostitute (the token tart with a heart) about to be killed by the local gang he decides enough is enough and intervenes. Thus leading him to turn into the local hero and start taking out hoodlums with, yes you guessed it, a shotgun.

The town is pure fiction, it could easily be twinned with a neighbourhood from Escape From LA. There appears to be no form of law enforcement and every cop is crooked. The town is ruled by an over-the-top villain called Drake along with his two sons Ivan and Slick. It's this kingpin that the hobo works his way up to, you can see every scene coming a mile away but then that's what this type of film is all about.

I mentioned earlier that this type of movie has a select audience and will not appeal to a lot of people. There are some pretty shocking scenes (flame thrower to a school bus, human piñata with razor blade baseball bats, paedophile Santa's) along with some seriously dark bits of humour (two demons who have an evil pet octopus?!) so don't go in expecting a Adam Sandler comedy vehicle here.

Surprisingly despite all this mayhem, torture and violence, the film retains a heart and that's purely down to Hauer. He brings likeability amongst all the evilness that surrounds the character. The rest of the cast are play by numbers actors and do tend to look like they're reading directly from a script but again, because of what this film is it doesn't seem completely out of place.

All in all this is what exploitation cinema is all about, something that will divide audiences and although I enjoyed Hobo it probably isn't a film that I'll revisit or sit in any of my top ten, maybe hundred, lists. Watch with care and know what your going into beforehand.


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