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xXx DVD Review

xXx

November 19, 2003

Director: Rob Cohen,
Starring: Vin Diesel, Asia Argento, Marton Csokas, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Roof, Richy Müller, Werner Dähn, Petr Jakl, Jan Pavel Filipensky, Tom Everett, Danny Trejo, Thomas Ian Griffith,

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DVD Review

“From the makers of The Fast & the Furious”. Those words instilled fear in me that xXx was going to be one of the worst films I had ever seen, for the testosterone charged excuse for a film that was Fast & the Furious gave the word ‘movie’ a bad name. The fact that so many impressionable Nova driving youths seemed to think that it was a great film; and something to aspire to made me shudder with contempt. It’s safe to say that I hated that film. I approached xXx with a degree of apprehension.

Vin Diesel stars as internet legend and extreme sports guru Xander Cage. He gets his kicks from performing dangerous stunts and broadcasting them over the internet in an attempt to breed anarchy. Xander’s direction in life changes when the US government’s secret service, fronted by the horrifically scarred Samuel L. Jackson, decides to pick out some undesirables and use them as agents in an unprecedented act of irresponsibility. Imagine if MI5 decided to draft in some joy riders and pack them off to Iraq to infiltrate a criminal organisation. That’s basically what happens here.

Government agents trying to discover the plans of terrorist movement Anarchy 99 keep getting sussed and subsequently bumped off due to their military training drawing attention to them. So that’s where the lowlifes come in. In a series of training exercises Xander Cage proves himself to be intuitive, compassionate and self sacrificing, as we know all joy riders tend to be! Armed with a new direction in life and a collection of high tech weaponry Xander sets off for Prague.

We then get the standard espionage sequences of spy infiltrates terrorist organisation and finds sultry but dangerous woman, she being the curvy shape of Asia Argento. Despite obvious sexual chemistry between Xander and Yelena she tries to keep him at arms length. Naturally when I say chemistry, I mean she looks sultry while Vin Diesel reacts like a wooden splint. It takes two elements to create chemistry, but you can see where they were heading with it.

Marton Csokas plays Anarchy 99’s leader Yorgi, a Russian who likes to party and drink vodka by the case load. I like him already. Xander manages to convince Yorgi that he wants a car order consisting of very expensive, stolen sports cars. The immediate fear that we might get something reminiscent of Gone in 60 Seconds are allayed, as this was only a very minor sub plot.

In true James Bond style Yorgi accepts Xander into his organisation and gives him complete freedom of his base of operations. When will they ever learn? All the while Xander is being tracked and monitored by the Samuel L. Jackson who seems intent on winding Xander up. The plot that unfolds is a decent one, and wouldn’t be out of place in a Bond movie. True, the dialogue at times gets cheesier than a mozzarella pizza, but this film is about one thing, and one thing alone – action.

As an action film xXx delivers, and then comes back to give you some more. Films of this genre tend to be around the 90 minute mark due to their flimsy plots and uninspired dialogue; but xXx weighs in at a hefty 124 minutes, and doesn’t seem to drag. The action is quite simply awesome and follows the James Bond pacing structure to the letter. The opening Bond style action sequence sets the tone for the film with Xander Cage steeling a crooked senator’s car, rigging it with video cameras for a live web cast, and driving it off a bridge. He then surfs on the car as it falls to the river below, only to jump off and parachute down after it. This is more than impressive, and it gets better from here on in. The snow boarding sequence is one of the film’s highlights as Xander sets off an avalanche in order to snow board in front of, thus dispatching all of the bad guys trying to catch him. Reminiscent of Roger Moore in A View to a Kill perhaps, this scene has slightly more emphasis on the action rather than the comedy.

Special Features
As with most action movies these days, xXx comes laden with extras. The most important of these is perceived to be xXx: A Film Makers Diary. This documentary charting the production shows every aspect of big explosions and stunts that you could possibly want. In the style of an MTV Rockumentary it has little in the way of substance and serves no more than to plug the film you’ll have already bought if you’re watching it.

There are of course the obligatory deleted scenes and music video, but to be honest this isn’t the kind of film that audiences want to know how it was made. It’s action entertainment of the loudest kind, no more, no less.

xXx is a surprisingly entertaining film that has none of the appalling self importance of Fast & the Furious. The action sequences are more than a match for Bond at its best, and the plot is strangely intelligent. Sure Vin Diesel isn’t exactly the most natural actor in the world, but he’s no worse than say Van Damme. He’s also improving from his previous performances. It’s easy to see how this film was worth a sequel; it’s just a pity that Fast & the Furious is also getting one.

Darren has enjoyed an interest in film for many years, studying the subject at Newport Film School where he worked on the film ‘Cop on the Edge IX: Prelude to Justice‘ in a directing and acting capacity. The official site can be enjoyed here. Darren setup WhatDVD.Net in 2003 to further his love of films and to write passionately about the movies he enjoys, and about those that he doesn’t.

Although his day-to-day activities mean that he now has less time to review movies than he would ideally prefer, he still tries to review new releases, and DVDs from his extensive collection, whenever possible.
view all DVD reviews by Darren Jamieson

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Rating: 82%

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