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Gallowwalkers (2012): Comeback Bore

Gallowwalkers (Andrew Goth, 2012)

Wesley Snipes dominates the DVD cover.

Live by the gun. Die by the box office.
photo credit: fearnet

Yeah, I was one of those guys. “Hallelujah, Wesley Snipes is… oh. Oh, my.” On the other hand, worth noting: the IMDB trivia page for Gallowwalkers notes that the project was originally a Japanese offering starring Yun-fat Chow; one wonders if the disappointed fanboys, myself included, would be singing the movie’s praises had it stayed that way. But thinking too far down those lines, well, that way lies madness (or, worse, a desire to bankroll something like the abomination that was Priest); we got what we got, and what we got is a ridiculous, shameless, incoherent dog’s dinner of a film that makes me wonder why I am even seeing a headline in the “related news” section that says Gallowwalkers sells wide. Having now seen the wretched thing, but not having clicked to read the article, I can’t help but wonder if the person who bought wide still has a job at VMI Worldwide. (Well, as of this writing, the movie has yet to open in Peru, so maybe it won’t be a total loss.)

Aman, flanked by two of his stalkers, in a still from the film.

Don’t pay the ferryman.
photo credit: atlantablackstar.com

Aman (see what they did there?) (Blade‘s Wesley Snipes) is a cursed gunslinger in an alternate-universe American west. We find out early on he’s after a gang of outlaws for some reason or other (the “some reason” becomes a mildly important plot point, therefore it’s a spoiler). He keeps finding lackeys, but he’s really looking for the gang’s leader, Kansa (The Last Horror Movie‘s Kevin Howarth). Problem is, the gang are all undead. As such things happen (at least in the movies), Aman reluctantly acquires himself a sidekick in the form of Fabulos (Radio‘s Riley Smith), an eager young gunslinger who’s just looking for some action. Well, he gets it. The end result feels like it was supposed to play out kind of like Django meets Blade

Kansa contemplates a severed head in a still from the film.

“Well, I couldn’t bury ALL of her…”
photo credit: mightyape.co.nz

…but instead it feels a lot more like Lust in the Dust meets Blade II (and I know there are some people who have some love for Blade II, and, well, I’m sorry for you). There was a great deal of talk back in the day about how this was going to be Wesley Snipes’ comeback film. Now, I’m a Wesley Snipes fan from way back, and as a result I’ve seen a few of the films he’s done since fading from the public eye, tripe like The Art of War and Liberty Stands Still and (ugh) Game of Death…and I’m here to tell you that every one of those movies is acres better than Gallowwalkers. This is just terrifying, but not in the sense that the movie is scary—it’s a movie where it seems everything about it was simply the wrong decision. I mean, you make a movie where Yun-fat Chow was originally attached, Wesley Snipes stepped into the role, and there are no martial arts sequences whatsoever. How does that even happen? And, okay, maybe I’m reading in the Blade-series similarities because of Snipes’ involvement, but I don’t think that’s 100% of what I’m seeing here; Goth and Reay (who were responsible for the 2005 snoozer Cold and Dark previous to this) weren’t wearing that particular heart too far away from their sleeves, to the point of giving Howarth a long blond wig (spike that thing out and with the mannerisms his character adopts, he might as well be Stephen Dorff). Now, I am willing to entertain the idea that when Goth and Reay put together the first draft of their script, it might well have been comprehensible. Maybe even good. Interesting characters who did interesting things and didn’t simply exist in between action sequences (in other words, more Unforgiven—another movie this borrows from liberally—instead of [fill in the Michael Bay movie here]). If that is the case, all the good stuff got “fixed” in post.

Only for the hardest of hardcore Wesley Snipes fanatics. And even then, as much as I never, ever thought I would say this: you might want to consider watching Game of Death instead. *


Trailer.

About Robert "Goat" Beveridge

Media critic (amateur, semi-pro, and for one brief shining moment in 2000 pro) since 1986. Guy behind noise/powerelectronics band XTerminal (after many small stints in jazz, rock, and metal bands). Known for being tactless but honest.

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