You know what to expect from Crank 2 in its very first seconds, when the words "Fuck You Chev Chelios" flash on screen in 8-bit videogame script. Because Chev is your hero. Spoilers ahead.
Crank: High Voltage is the sequel to Jason Statham's frenetic sex-and-violence vehicle Crank. The premise of the first flick is that the hyperactive, superstrong street scum Chelios (Statham) gets injected with an evil Chinese gang drug. If he ever lets his adrenaline fall below psychotic levels, he'll die. Though he falls out of a helicopter at the end of Crank, he manages to survive into this sequel in grand videogame style. Some Chinese gang dudes peel him off the pavement, give him open heart surgery in a massage parlor (managing to get only a little cigarette ash into his chest cavity), steal his mega-heart, and fit him out with a total artificial heart powered by a laptop battery.
Of course, Chelios is awake during his open-heart surgery. He seems pretty content to just chill on the table until the doctors let it slip that the next organ they're going to harvest is his monstrously huge cock. That's when he gets up, kills everybody in sight, and sets out on his new quest: To get his awesome heart back. His first bit of intel comes from the lone remaining gangster after the slaughterfest. The guy is begging for his life on his hands and knees, but he won't tell who has the heart. So Chelios dunks the tip of his semi-automatic gun in oil, and jams it deep in the guy's ass.
This movie is some fucked up shit, yo. And it's glorious. This is the videogame-amped, YouTube-poisoned, porn-soaked, gang-controlled future that suburban America fears most. And so it's nothing short of cathartic to see every pop nightmare unscroll before our eyes in a lurid parody like the best dirty joke that Larry Flynt ever dreamed up. Crank 2 is thrilling because the filmmakers have blasted away their self-censorship mechanisms and let flow the unexpurgated contents of their blackest (and silliest) hearts.
Chelios' Los Angeles is pretty much the same semi-imaginary city where Grand Theft Auto takes place, a world of gangbangers and whores who exist entirely to be killed, and hopefully in a way that is memorably bloody. Just when you think the action can't get any more fucked up, Chelios will follow the gangsters who've got his heart into a strip club. Where a guy is being tortured by having his elbows chopped off. And strippers who've been shot in the chest run through the club screaming as silicon goo streams down their stomachs and their breasts deflate.
To keep his heart battery from running down, Chelios has to keep shocking himself. His underground heart surgeon, doing medical research while boning yet another hooker, checks in on the cell phone every once in a while to dispense heart-maintenance advice to our beleaguered hero. Try rebooting it by clamping jumper cables to your nipples. Try tazering your cock. Try creating a bunch of friction by rubbing another person! That last order ends well, with Chelios fucking his girlfriend (the hilarious Amy Smart) on the racetrack while a bunch of horses run over their heads, flashing their horsey cocks.
Meanwhile, we take several gratuitous detours into sex-violence slapstick, as Chelios has to cross a picket line of striking porn stars (yes there's a cameo from Ron Jeremy), and meets up with a gay sidekick who has "full body Tourettes" (WTF?) but later saves Chelios' ass with his giant gang of butch queers. No surprise that this movie exhibits Grand Theft Auto's idea of multiculturalism, too: Everybody (including the white dude) is a racist stereotype; everybody is a sexist stereotype; and everybody is equal in their sleazy, homicidal abandon. It's Jackass Darwinism - survival of the biggest fucking asshole.
Eventually it turns out that a Chinese gang leader – played with parodic racist aplomb by David Carradine – has installed Chelios' heart in his own chest. So it's a race to get the pumper out of Carradine's chest and back into Chelios. Things get even more science fictional as our characters head into a showdown on Catalina Island that plays like a hellish cross between the movies of Ron Jeremy and Eli Roth. And by that I mean: OMGWTFBBQ.
I've been accused before of being immoral for enjoying movies like Crank 2 – for admiring their savage honesty, their brutal parodic punch. There is something undeniably disturbing about a story that is so plainly intended to degrade every character in it. And yet that is its charm. Nobody tried to excuse the sex and violence here in the service of art or politics or some kind of warning about the nasty future our terrible videogame habits will lead to. But at the same time, Crank 2 does recognize its own self-destructive sensibility. That's why the movie's refrain – repeated in many languages, by many people - is "Fuck you Chelios!"