- The Condemned (2007) movie review: Should violence be denounced or glorified? This grade Z Steve Austin actioner wants to have it both ways.
The Condemned movie review: Cinema offerings can’t get much worse than this revoltingly violent action flick
In The Condemned, wrestler Steve Austin is one of several clumsy death row inmates who spend their free time taking ballet lessons. Well, joke.
A few months after World Wrestling Entertainment gave pro wrestlers Kane and John Cena a chance at showing off their fighting skills in, respectively, See No Evil and The Marine, comes Steve Austin’s turn to deliver his best holds and throws on the big screen.
Set somewhere in Central America, The Condemned stars Austin as one of ten death row inmates who get a shot at freedom if they participate in a deadly game on a remote island. The rules are fairly simple: The contestants are wired with explosives and must battle each other to death; the last man standing wins.
The concept of the game was developed by a ruthless millionaire (Robert Mammone) who, after being turned down by all major television networks, decides to broadcast the spectacle live on the Web. His goal is to top the Super Bowl and attract more than 40 million subscribers.
Undoubtedly the worst of the WWE movies thus far released, The Condemned borrows most of its ideas from Kinji Fukasaku’s smash hit Battle Royale, a bloody thriller in which a group of government-selected Japanese ninth-graders are given three days to kill each other on an island.
But whereas the original delivers an ingenious message – set at a time when civilization is falling to pieces – director-writer Scott Wiper and co-screenwriter Rob Hedden’s actioner commits an inexcusable crime: They hypocritically denounce violence while glorifying it.
Their movie wallows in brutal scenes of rape and torture that are excruciating to watch; one horrific moment toward the end features one of the players executing about a dozen TV crew members for the sole purpose of provoking audience revulsion.
Keep wrestling in the ring
Unsurprisingly, the narrative is primitive and predictable. In fact, a close look at the movie’s official poster makes it easy to guess who will walk out of the game alive.
Compounding matters, the fast-paced action and editing are so repetitive they add virtually nothing to the proceedings. And since fighting each other to death doesn’t require any acting skills, The Condemned has no actors.
In sum, The Condemned is a perfect example of inept filmmaking even if it ultimately delivers a commendable message: Wrestling should stay inside the ring.
The Condemned (2007)
Director: Scott Wiper.
Screenplay: Scott Wiper & Rob Hedden.
From a story by Wiper, Hedden, and Andy Hedden.
Cast: Steve Austin. Vinnie Jones. Rick Hoffman. Robert Mammone. Tory Mussett. Manu Bennett. Madeleine West. Rick Hoffman.
“The Condemned Movie (2007): Revoltingly Violent Steve Austin Actioner” review text © Franck Tabouring; excerpt, image captions, bullet point introduction, and notes/endnotes © Alt Film Guide.
“The Condemned Movie (2007) Review” endnotes
Steve Austin The Condemned movie image: WWE Films | Lionsgate.
“The Condemned Movie (2007): Revoltingly Violent Steve Austin Actioner” last updated in September 2021.