A former boxer named Bradley loses his job as an auto mechanic, and his troubled marriage is about to expire. At this crossroads in his life, he feels that he has no better option than to work for an old buddy as a drug courier. This vocation improves his situation until the terrible day that he finds himself in a gunfight between a group of police officers and his own ruthless allies. When the smoke clears, Bradley is badly hurt and thrown in prison, where his enemies force him to commit acts of violence that turn the place into a savage battleground.
Brawl in Cell Block 99 is the new film from S. Craig Zahler, the director of the spectacular Bone Tomahawk, and starring Vince Vaughn. It follows a former boxer-turned drug mule, wind up in prison. Shortly after, some former business transaction comes back to bite him, as his pregnant wife has now been kidnapped, and the kidnappers are threatening to have his wife’s pregnancy terminated, if he doesn’t murder someone in prison for them. The only problem is, he’s in baby jail, on a 5 year sentence, but he has to find his way into the infamous Cell Block 99 to locate his target. This, of course, means that more time will be added to his sentence, but he’s willing to sacrifice his life in order to ensure the safety of his wife, and their unborn child.
One thing I really like about Brawl in Cell Block 99, is that at its very core, it is a B movie, but at the same time, it’s also a serious film. At the same time, however, the special effects are most definitely B-movie’ish. One scene in particular, when a person’s skull is visible, it looks like something from a Halloween store. And hey, this isn’t a bad thing. I think it added to the movie’s charm. Don’t be concerned though, because this is one brutal-ass movie. Vince Vaughn is very big, and menacing, and plenty of asses are kicked and dead before the finale of the movie. Prison Exploitation is already one of my favorite sub-genres of trash cinema, and I was not let down. Vaughn does an amazing job with his role, and all of the supporting cast, including Jennifer Carpenter are great as well. And let’s not forget Don Johnson. He’s awesome in everything he has appeared in after the resurrection of his career.
RLJE’s Blu-ray release of Brawn in Cell Block 99 is the perfect home video presentation. It features an AVC-encoded 1080p video transfer, presented in 1.85:1. The clarity is crystal, with no issues at all. The audio is presented in the form of a 5.1 DTS-HD MA track, and it’s pretty remarkable. I can’t say that there was a ton of stuff coming through the rear channels, but enough to notice. Mostly background noise, and of course directional main audio stuff. One area that this Blu-ray is extremely lacking, however, is bonus content. There are two small pieces of extra features, one of which is a “Making-of” documentary, and the other is a Q&A session with the cast and crew from Beyond Fest.
RLJE’s Blu-ray release of Brawl in Cell Block 99 is highly recommended. The movie alone is worth the price of the disc. You can purchase a copy for yourself by clicking here.
Full disclosure: RLJE provided me with a 4K UHD/Blu-ray combo pack for the purpose of this review. I have yet to pick up a UHD player, so I can’t comment as to the quality of that disc. My thoughts in this review are my own, and in no way influenced by receiving a screener