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Arena Wars

USA 2024
produced by
Michael Mahal, Sonny Mahal, Satnam Mahal (executive) for Mahal Empire, Mezek Films, Blaen-Y-Maes Bootleg Films, Alien Donut Films, Wildlife Command Center
directed by Brandon Slagle
starring John Wells, Michael Madsen, Eric Roberts, Robert LaSardo, Kevin Hager, BJ Mezek, Wesley Cannon, Dave Shecter, Johnny Huang, Kylie Fulmer, Michael Beran, Mercedes Peterson, Sheri Davis, Robert Donavan, Michelle Hill, Kyosuke Mukai, Greg Tally, Victor V Gelsomino, Michael Della Pia, Earl Gray, Gary DeShaun House, Kyus Wright, Bill Victor Arucan, Denny Nolan, Brian Bell, Robert Anderson, David C. Newman, Tracy Obonna, Allen Woodman, Maria Bova, Jason Marcos Velez, Davi Cartaya, Bron Theron, Edward Stachyra, Darryl Goldberg, Dane Bingenheimer, Lisa Hinds, Elizabeth Noelle Japhet, Dee Cutrone, Maynard Bagang, Niko El Santo Zavero, Marvin Maddicks jr, Stacy Johnson, James Dormuth, Ben Stobber, Jean Heathen, Mary Jones, Mindy Dougherty
story by Michael Mahal, Sonny Mahal, screenplay by Brandon Slagle, music by Scott Glasgow, stunt coordinator: Allen Woodman, special effects supervisor: Haley Dunphy

review by
Mike Haberfelner

In the not too far future, the show Arena Wars, hosted by Samson (Michael Madsen) and Moses (Robert Donavan) with ringside announcer Holly Daze (Sheri Davis), has become TV staple. Basically it's a program where death row candidates fight to the death with physically and mechanically augmented, heavily armed fighters for a chance for a second lease on life. Most of the times, the convicts, having to go through no less than 7 back-to-back fights, lose though and die gory deaths. Of late though, the program has fallen out with audiences as even carnage gets old after a while and the audience longs for characters to identify with - something death row inmates, especially with multiple murder raps, just aren't. So some digging's done, and eventually Luke Bender (John Wells) is found, a highly decorated Marine who has entered death row undercover for a mission - but hey, it's only fair to blow any cover for the sake of ratings, right? So he's to lead a group of convicts, consisting of among others strongman with a heart of gold Minty (Wesley Cannon), badass femaile Billie (Kylie Fulmer) and comic relief Khan (Johnny Huang), through the seven chambers of death. But will the convicts even trust him, learning that he's an innocent man? And what about the show's executives once his popularity has eclipsed the show's? And will the enhanced killing machines just let him through for the sake of ratings?

 

Seen as a mere piece of action cinema, Arena Wars sets hardly a foot wrong: The fights are exciting, the violence is rather relentless, properly gory and nicely captured by the camera, and there's a rather fitting campiness to things that's very much copied from real life wrestling shows - so in that way alone, the film's already a pretty fun ride. However, there's another, deeper level to this film that veers towards social commentary on today's state of mass media that seems to always go for the sensationalist, even if it's the totally wrong thing to do - and that's where Arena Wars really hits the nail on the head - but wrapped into a really nice genre wrapping so it doesn't come across as a message movie, just pretty good action entertainment.

 

 

 

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review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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In times of uncertainty of a possible zombie outbreak, a woman has to decide between two men - only one of them's one of the undead.

 

There's No Such Thing as Zombies
starring
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special appearances by
Debra Lamb and Lynn Lowry

 

directed by
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written by
Michael Haberfelner

produced by
Michael Haberfelner, Luana Ribeira and Eddie Bammeke

 

now streaming at

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Robots and rats,
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Tales to Chill
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Tales to Chill
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
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Tales to Chill
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