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Provoked (1989)

Directed by Rick Pamplin
Raedon Home Video VHS

Well, here it is and I’m watching it. This could be, pound for pound, the dumbest movie I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen a lot of dumb movies. The Bounty Hunters is nowhere near this idiotic. King Frat is perfectly ludicrous but not this ludicrously perfect.  Provoked begins with its odd title. (I thought it referred to the characters and the situations but they seem to be referring to what the movie did to me.) The fun continues with the rather hilarious photo on the VHS cover and then almost every single moment of the film itself. Now, let me clarify: when I say this film is dumb, that is a very good thing. This film made me smile, laugh, cheer and yell. A lot. From the goofy prison break at the start to the “shouldn’t there be something after this?” closing shot, it’s a film to be enjoyed while you constantly ask questions of your TV. Such as “Why are those people doing that?” and “What on earth is going on?”

Five awesomely stupid crooks, led by a woman named Big Mama, rob some sort of payroll company. But, there’s no cash on the premises. Big Mama and the boys get pissed. A woman who reminds me of every lunch monitor from my Catholic grade school days is shot, hilariously so. The cops show up. Hostages are taken. The newlywed wife of one of the hostages gets feisty and wants the crooks eliminated. The cops sit around. The mayor is an idiot. A reporter gets shot. There is the most egregious example of rape through pants (this time through pants and a dress) since Victims!.  On several occasions, there are continuity errors that I spotted. I spotted. I never spot these things.

With each minute, I worried a bit more. I was sweating over the fact that the film would run out of steam before the end and not be a perfect piece of whatever it’s a piece of. I kept saying “Keep up the pace, Provoked. You can do it.” It sure can. Just when you think it can’t get better, the heroine rounds a corner and stops near the car of a man we’ve never seen before. He seems to be just casually hanging out alongside the biggest hostage situation in this city’s history. She asks of him “Are you Machine Gun Joe?” He is Machine Gun Joe. Who is Machine Gun Joe? Who cares? He likes shooting jerks and so do we. There is a 2 minute sequence shot from the POV of the reporter’s camera. The reporter talks to the crooks in the office. And for 2 minutes, everyone yells at everyone else in an unbroken shot. It’s like the world’s most hostile improv class where everyone is afraid of telling everyone else to be quiet. There are so many moments like this.

I’ll throw in one more: The newlyweds go the office because she forgot the honeymoon plane tickets at her desk. Ten feet away from an office with no door and filled with loud people wielding guns, the woman decides to use the restroom. She does. Her husband goes in the office and is taken hostage. The woman leaves the restroom and escapes. She spends the rest of the movie getting provoked and provoking others.  So, I think to myself: she was 10 feet away from the office. All she had to do was grab an envelope with plane tickets in it. Why did she suddenly have to pee? Why not grab the tickets and go on your way out? Why send your husband, who doesn’t work there, into the place? And, in the office, there are three women and three desks. Where does our heroine sit? There isn’t another desk.

The filmmakers have written a script and to hell with the fact that the location doesn’t match what they need. They will pretend it does. Who cares if they don’t have a scene where the head cop meets the heroine? We’ll act as if they know each other. Who cares if Machine Gun Joe clearly gets shot a dozen times and then just stands up and leaves the movie? I don’t care. Machine Gun Joe doesn’t give a crap. Move on. (He is Machine Gun Joe, after all.) Provoked is another one of those films where I wonder if I was even meant to watch it. Could it have been meant solely for friends of the director and the folks at Raedon? There are so many questions. I’m not going to try to answer any of them. Go. Find the awesome moments and revel in the majesty of Big Mama.