Crazy Six (1997): Strung Out, Pyun-Style

Matty cautiously praises Albert Pyun’s arty crime caper.

Although it’s not something I’d recommend as either a prime cut of Albert Pyun or a conventional piece of entertainment, CRAZY SIX is an agreeable bit of ambient dressing if you’re in an adventurous mood. An elliptical, under-the-influence-type picture, Crazy Six is a weird, vibey hangout flick; a Pyun joint for those who jive with his more openly experimental and arty opuses a la Deceit (1990), Nemesis 4: Cry of Angels (1996), and Omega Doom (1996) rather than, say, his more regularly presented — but no less surreal — epics, Nemesis (1992) and Mean Guns (1997).

Once jokily described by the director as “a music driven film about crack addicts” and haphazardly touching upon themes of honour, death, violence, love, guilt, and redemption, the actual plot of Crazy Six is a jumble at best and indecipherable at worst. Ex Brat Packer Rob Lowe leads as Billie, the titular ‘Crazy Six’ who, per the film’s naff and uninspired tagline, is “the sixth one born in his family and a little bit crazy.” Off his nut on drugs and skulking around a stretch of Eastern Europe known as ‘Crimeland’, Billie tries to feed his habit by blustering into a robbery with his pals; a convoluted and really kind of boring scheme that exists solely to allow Pyun to shoehorn in a cavalcade of flamboyant characters. That isn’t bad, mind, as it’s the cast who make Crazy Six so compulsively watchable. Lowe is authentically scuzzy and bewildered-seeming, and the film’s supporting players — from Pyun stalwarts Thom Mathews, Norbert Weisser and Ice-T, to Mario Van Peebles and Burt Reynolds — are all uniformly excellent, with Ice-T and Van Peebles in particular providing a splash of intense boo-hiss villainy and OTT kitsch, respectively. Moreover, as completely wackadoo as they are, Crazy Six’s spread of eccentrics underline the film’s biggest strength: that being the world that Pyun creates.

Pyun’s ability to fashion a convincing and enveloping sense of place should never be sniffed at, even when the actual enjoyment factor of what he’s made is questionable. And here, despite Crazy Six’s extremely messy script, Pyun fabricates one of his finest and most immersive cinematic universes. Aided by go-to DP George Mooradian’s stylised photography, every shot composed with a painter’s precision and draped with red, pink, and golden hues, ‘Crimeland’ is as seductive as it is dangerous; an opulent netherworld as intoxicating as the drug-induced fugues Billie and his frazzled friends are perpetually trapped in. It’s hard to believe that such an aesthetically lush picture was cobbled together on the cheap and shot for ten quick days in Bratislava — and it’s even harder to believe that people who labelled season three of Twin Peaks a work of genius haven’t stumbled upon Crazy Six yet and found an ounce of appeal within it. The colour schemes, the Greek chorus-esque use of music and sound design to connect non-sequitur scenes and strands, the quirky folk who drift in and out of the loose narrative… Crazy Six might lack the inherent prestige and cult cool of Twin Peaks: The Return (2017), and suffer from a weaker grasp on deliberately evasive storytelling, but the visual and tonal parallels are pretty striking.

But, hey: David Lynch is a visionary genius. Albert Pyun is *just* a guy who produces straight-to-video fodder…

USA ● 1997 ● Thriller ● 95mins

Rob Lowe, Ice-T, Burt Reynolds, Mario Van Peebles ● Dir. Albert Pyun ● Wri. Galen Yuen

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