What Not To Watch: The Circuit
Having seen a few Olivier Gruner movies in my time, I set the bar pretty low going into my viewing of The Circuit.
I didn’t set it low enough.
When you have an actor like Olivier Gruner with the physical skills and martial arts qualifications to perform in an action movie like The Circuit, but not necessarily the acting prowess to carry the film, there are two roads you can take…
1) You surround Olivier with a strong supporting cast, filled with talented veteran actors who can help make up for the leading man’s shortcomings.
2) Or you can do what The Circuit did and cast people as bad or worse than Olivier so he doesn’t appear to be the least talented member of the cast.
- The Premise: Olivier Gruner plays Dirk Longstreet (the character name is one of the few bright spots in this movie), he was a former champion of an underground fighting circuit. He has since moved on and is now a college professor and coach. But Dirk’s brother, Jeremy has a gambling problem (he likes to bet on The Circuit fights) and after being manipulated by the man who runs The Circuit, Vixton Hack (Bryan Genesse) he is forced to fight and used as bait to get Dirk to come out of retirement and once again fight on The Circuit.
- Deja Vu: Regular readers of Bulletproof Action may be thinking I’ve already covered this movie. After all it was just over a month ago that I threw Gary Daniels and his movie Forced to Fight under the What Not To Watch bus. But I will give credit to The Circuit, the brothers in this one more closely resemble and sound like brothers than those in Forced to Fight. So I guess that’s another plus for a movie filled with negatives.
- Show Stealer: Another of the few positives is the inclusion of Billy Drago. Drago is actually on the side of good in this one and serves as Dirk’s trainer to get him ready for his return to The Circuit. This was good use of Drago and didn’t put him in his stereotypical villain role. Unfortunately there’s not a whole lot of Drago’s character, Lenny, in this movie and eventually Vixton has Lenny killed for helping Dirk. And when Dirk finds out that Lenny has been killed, one of the most ridiculous scenes is not far behind…
- Backhoe: Vixton has a guy fly by helicopter to Lenny’s place (where Dirk was staying) to deliver the message that Lenny was dead and Jeremy is next if Dirk doesn’t fight. Dirk needs to make it to The Circuit and the mode of transportation he chooses… a backhoe. Now the backhoe does allow him to crash the front gate of The Circuit… but is that really necessary when they want you to be there? Plus it isn’t exactly the quickest way to get there. In fact, when he jumps on the backhoe it is was the morning after a night of jumping on another kind of ho altogether, reporter Nicole Kent. By the time he reaches The Circuit it is dark outside. This was the dumbest part of the movie and trust me when I say it had some major competition.
- Back Up: Another part of the backhoe deal that makes no sense. Early on in the movie when Dirk first tries to find The Circuit it is somewhere in downtown Los Angeles, but later when he goes to the same place on his backhoe, it is nowhere near the city and people are crossing a rope bridge to get there?! I don’t believe there are rope bridges in downtown Los Angeles.
The tag line on this film is “No Rules. No Limits. No Survivors.” I would include “No Reason to Watch”. Between the bad acting (the dinner scene between Dirk and Nicole made me cringe), the forgettable fight scenes and the constant flow of head scratching stupidity, this one more than qualifies as What Not To Watch material.
But if you still aren’t convinced here’s a few more reasons…
- Phony Phones: Were cell phones hard to come by in 2002 when this film was made? I seem to recall having one back then… yet Nicole is using what appears to be a cordless phone you’d have in your house as her mobile phone. Also, she calls Dirk while he is is staying at Lenny’s house. He answers a cordless phone (just like the one she has in her car). So I have to assume she called his number and that phone must have been Dirk’s mobile phone and not Lenny’s house number, since she wouldn’t know that number or he would have questioned how she knew the number or knew he was staying there! C’mon prop department!
- Loren Avedon: Fans of Loren Avedon might want to check out The Circuit because he is in it… his role is so small and inconsequential, I wonder why they even cast him. Don’t waste your time Loren Avedon fans!
- Two Options: When Dirk goes looking for The Circuit and encounters a bartender looking to get it on with Dirk, Dirk has no interest in the bartender, but instead wants information on the fights and who runs them. When the slutty bartender tells Dirk she could lose her job if she talks, Dirk tells her she shouldn’t be working there anyway. Her response is where else is she supposed to work as the Secretary of Defense at The Pentagon? So apparently in this woman’s world there are only TWO options for careers… you’re either a bartender or you work at The Pentagon… nobody else is hiring.
- Heyman Did It Better: Bryan Genesse’s character Vixton Hack wears a long leather jacket through out the movie (even when he’s at the gym training fighters) like he’s trying to channel his inner Paul Heyman. Ladies and gentleman… there is only one Paul Heyman, Vixton tried, but he couldn’t hack it.
- Cooke Did It Better: Early in the film Dirk gets into a bar fight, he does the one kick taking out three guys gimmick… but I have to say Keith Cooke did that move much better in China O’Brien.