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Monday, March 12, 2012

The Chinese Downhill

At the end of the very forgettable 1984 ski movie, Hot Dog, the protagonists decide to settle their quarrels by competing in a “Chinese Downhill.” In one of the movie’s few jokes, an Asian companion of the heroes—who has heretofore not uttered a word of English—asks, “What the fuck is a Chinese Downhill?” Allow me to answer that question. A Chinese Downhill is any movie ending that—lacking any shred of originality, purpose, or reason—simply devolves into a chaotic and completely stupid string of car chases, mindless violence, death, and mayhem.  This boring cliché is to be expected of a low-rent mess of a movie like Hot Dog but some viewers expect something a little more sophisticated in big-budget productions, many of which make Hot Dog look like Citizen Kane. A paroxysm of bomb blasts and gunfire is a pretty lousy substitute for good writing, it’s not even a substitute for really bad writing.

I have said before that if the trailer for a movie has more than one explosion you can almost bank on the fact that the film will be a complete piece of shit, and you can double-down on that if the actors are shown diving away from a bomb blast going at the speed of sound as if they are dodging a lazily tossed beach ball. If the end of the movie has a host of explosions and people diving out of the way it means that the writers (bad movies almost always have lots of writers) had nothing in the way of ideas on how to bring their story to a close.

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