Do you know who Matt Schulze is? He first came onto my radar as the ridiculous villain in one of the funnier Steven Seagal DTVs, OUT OF REACH. He plays Faisal, a white slaver/swordsman who kidnaps Seagal’s young penpal and tries to auction her off on the internet. But he’s probly most widely known as Vince from THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS. In part 1 Vince was the asshole in the crew who was correctly suspicious of Paul Walker’s character Brian. He returns, older and tougher, in FAST FIVE.
Or maybe you know him as Chupa, a member of the Bloodpack in BLADE II. He’d already played the vampire Crease in the first BLADE movie, but didn’t tell them that when he auditioned for part II. Other characters you might know him as: Wall Street in THE TRANSPORTER, Henry in TORQUE,
or the scary drug dealer Willie in EXTRACT. I know him from these supporting parts, but FINAL MOVE (2006) is the first movie I ever came across where he was the lead.
Schulze plays Dan Marlowe, a psychic, chess expert ex-cop locked away in a psychiatric hospital after a “total breakdown.” When a series of murders seems to have all the markings of the killer they thought they’d executed, Marlowe’s ex-partner/current brother-in-law Detective Roman Krieg (Lochlyn Munro, HIGH VOLTAGE, FREDDY VS. JASON) gets him released to help with the case.
He doesn’t have to be in a hospital anymore but you can tell he’s troubled because he has a beer before he says hi to his wife and sick daughter, and later he goes to bars wearing sunglasses. And Roman tells him “You look like shit.” That’s a big part of the job of being a cop is telling other cops “you look like shit” to assure them of their grizzled edginess.
The guy they supposedly executed was known as “The Chess Murderer,” but this new one might be more than a copycat because the victims are found holding chess pieces and according to Roman that’s “Only a detail we knew about. You, me, and the killer.” So it’s gotta be the dead guy. Or somebody who made an extremely obvious guess of what a guy called “The Chess Murderer” might do.
They don’t seem to notice that the new Chess Murderer has a completely different M.O. than the original. In a flashback we see that he kidnapped a woman and forced her to play chess before cutting her to death. The new one does a whole SCREAM thing calling them on the phone with a voice distorter and then attacking them at their house.
This chess gimmick is kind of cool though. He drew a grid on a map of Los Angeles and treats it as a chess board. The cops have to call and tell him what piece they move and then he responds by killing somebody wherever on the map he wants to move. On one hand it seems like the cops shouldn’t be enabling his game, on the other hand they can at least try to predict his next murder this way. Also, they can say “check mate” when they catch him, that’s gotta be part of the appeal to them.
The victims are always people who were obviously guilty of some crime but managed to get away with it, or “O.J.s” as these police call them. They decide to interview a number of “O.J.s”, though it seems more like they’re treating them as suspects than as potential victims. Daniel Baldwin seems to be having fun trying out an accent and a DeNiro face. And there’s this other character (Lindsay Griffin) who’s “got a rap sheet a mile long, all sex offenses… classified as a sexual predator.” You know, this type of sexual predator:
It’s kinda weird how many of these O.J.s there are in L.A., all people that the cops know about and they even know all about them, like, “I heard he’s been up to his old tricks again, hanging out at playgrounds.” But they never worried about it until these murders started. Also, it’s weird how many chess experts there are to be red herrings, especially considering that being good at chess doesn’t turn out to be very important for either side. (No, it doesn’t turn out to be Bobby Fischer or the RZA.) David Carradine is the new police captain who seems to be only in the movie so they can mention that he plays chess.
As a hero, this Marlowe is pretty ineffectual. He’s not officially a cop, so can’t really do police things. He is a psychic, but only ever sees shadowy images and buckles over holding his head. He never once gets a useful image or one that would justify even having psychic powers be included in this movie at all. His wife is mad at him for helping on the case and not taking care of their diabetic daughter, and his ex-mistress (Rachel Hunter, PIRANHACONDA) is mad at him for turning his head when she tries to kiss him on the cheek (In the movie’s weirdest twist SPOILER she immediately picks up a guy at a bar, has rough sex with him and leaves him gutted. But you don’t know if this is supposed to mean she’s the killer or if now there are two killers).
Although I found this in the action section of the video store there’s not really action in it except one part where they chase the killer up a building and he does a parkour move or two before zip-lining to another building. Come to think of it that part doesn’t really match up with who we find out at the end is the killer.
Carradine isn’t in it much and doesn’t seem to expend much effort, but he has a couple funny lines, like “What the hell happened to you, looks like you slept in a car?” after Marlowe slept in a car. Then he asks, in a way that only Carradine could, “What’s going on with your… extra sensory… perception?”
The best performance is Tucker Smallwood (THE COTTON CLUB, SNOOP DOGG’S HOOD OF HORROR) as Marlowe’s mentally ill homeless friend who he plays chess with on Sundays. It’s a bit part but it’s a very accurate portrayal, he reminds me of mentally ill people I know.
Schulze, unfortunately, is playing such a stupid character in such a dull and imagination-free movie that it’s hard to come out looking good. But when he doesn’t have to grimace he’s likable, especially in the interrogation with the sexual predator, when he keeps laughing. I hope eventually he’ll get a chance to play the lead in something better than this.
By the way, in OUT OF REACH he plays chess against the little girl he kidnaps (and drugs her – one of the all time most punk moves by a grown adult in a movie). I wonder if he’ll get typecast as a chess player? Maybe he can be the bad guy if they ever do a sequel to FRESH.
It turns out that John Travolta has a brother named Joey who is a director and (spoiler) he might not be that good at it. Taking all these dusty cliches and combining them into a ludicrous mess like this oughta be more fun. It’s not like it has actual tension or atmosphere like SE7EN or something, but it’s still too gloomy and pouty to get much joy out of its absurdity.
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