This film has become kind of notorious at this point for its epic badness and while that is certainly justified, that does kind of give the movie short shrift to just write it off as "so bad it's good" or however one might choose to qualify that kind of thing. DANGEROUS MEN is an experience to be had (with an audience or a group of people if possible) that transcends what you might have come to expect from your average "bad" movie. You see, there are "bad" movies and then there are "holyf*ckingsh*t" movies and DANGEROUS MEN certainly belongs in the latter category.
While it's easy enough to punch holes in Auteur theory as something of a myth based on how collaborative the filmmaking process truly is, there are some movies that really originate with a single vision - from one person. That person in this case is the late John S. Rad. John S. Rad (aka Jahangir Salehi Yegenehrad) is/was an Iranian filmmaker (or rather an architect who decided to become a director) who took about two decades to finish making DANGEROUS MEN - his legacy film. Rad is certainly no Kubrick though and that twenty years of work doesn't necessarily show in the finished film - at least in terms of the filmmaking, the music, the story or the performances. Rad himself wrote, produced, directed, cast, and did the music, songs and sound design on the movie. He really went all in on this thing and that can sometimes not be the wisest decision (filmmaking can be wonderfully collaborative - as I mentioned). That said, DANGEROUS MEN is nonetheless a special movie in that it is not easily categorized and is always unpredictable. That unpredictability is really a big part of what makes it an unforgettable affair to behold. Most movies that are conventionally seen as less than great are at least easy enough to figure out. You watch them and think you can see what they are trying to do or you can somehow tell what well-worn path they are headed down in terms of plot. DANGEROUS MEN gives you none of that. It's one of those films that feels like (and I mean this in a complimentary way) it was made by someone who hadn't seen many films before in their life. It's like otherworldly "Alien cinema" if you will. You can see some semblance of genre influence in some of the characters and story bits, but none of it comes together in a way that you would imagine. Rad makes some odd choices with regards to which characters he lingers on and that is part of the film's alluring uncertainty. There are also many moments of strange goings on between people (often sexual) that truly make this a memorable flick. I won't spoil any of those, but suffice it to say that they are pretty glorious.
I have lived in and around Los Angeles since late 1999, so I had heard tell of DANGEROUS MEN and all of its dazzling splendor for years after John S. Rad himself paid to put it into five L.A. theaters in 2005. I kept hearing about it screening every so often years after that, but never made it out and always regretted it especially when I realized that there was no Home Video release in sight for the film. As a lot of cinephiles have become accustomed to these days, it seems less and less films are that hard difficult to see if you are willing to really look for them. This was a case where the film was basically unseeable for a decent amount of time and I became kind of saddened and frustrated with myself for having missed out. Thankfully Drafthouse came along and saved the day. For everyone. Drafthouse FIlms has really established one heck of an cool brand with their older titles on Blu-ray. DANGEROUS MEN slots in well with the likes of MIAMI CONNECTION, ROAR, THE VISITOR, MS. 45 and WAKE IN FRIGHT. Not to say that all of these movies are cut from the same cloth or are of the same quality, but they are all these shaggy, unique cinematic visions that form a lovely group aesthetic somehow. They are cinematic oddities, but they are all compelling and worth seeking out. I know that I am always keeping an eye on what older gems that Drafthouse Films is rescuing from obscurity with another one of their nicely put together discs.
Hats off to Drafthouse films for treating this film with a great deal of reverence - at least in terms of the supplemental content they've included here. I still cannot believe that the movie is on Blu-ray, let alone in a nice package with extras.
-An Audio commentary from Destroy All Movies Authors Zack Carlson and Bryan Connolly. Now, it should be clear that I have been a fan of both of these gentlemen for quite a while. They have both contributed many lists to this site - all of them great. I have also interviewed both of them over the years for podcasts, so it is obvious that I like to hear them talk about movies. They are both excellent and entertaining "movie talkers" and have been friends forever so they really do a nice job here with this track. You really couldn't ask for two better dudes to watch this movie with.
-"THAT'S SO JOHN RAD" (25 mins) - an original documentary about the film and its initial 2005 theatrical release. This features interviews with Cinefamily's Hadrian Belove as well as other early fans and promoters of the movie.
-An Interview with Peter Palian, Director of Photography.
-Rare Footage of John S. Rad on Local Access Television.
-A 16-page booklet featuring the only documented full-length interview with John S. Rad.