Knock 'Em Dead, Kid (2009)

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Ranked #9,507
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Dirk Julian
Dirk Julian
Michael Resendez
Michael Resendez
Torey Marks
Torey Marks
Erin Prieto
Erin Prieto
Chad Post
Chad Post
Review by Chad
Added: August 02, 2009
The "slice of life" drama flick can be tough to create, given that a filmmaker is tasked with making us care about his characters while at the same time delivering on the "slice of life" hook. In creating these types of movies, one is basically forced to thrust a handful of characters upon the audience and hope that they care enough about them to get wrapped up in their lives while at the same time tying everything together with some sort of interesting story. If you can't get your audience hooked in the first ten minutes, then you've likely lost them for the rest of the movie: it's just the nature of this kind of release. Knock 'Em Dead, Kid succeeds in a genre where so many others have failed, and it's all thanks to some great writing, likable characters, and a steady stream of twists.

We start the film with a quick introduction to our characters, who consist of Bret (Dirk Julian), a young man who dreams of heading off to film school, Willard (Michael Resendez), the local tough guy whose life goal seems to involve nothing more than partying and women, and of course, the obligatory dreadlocked stoner in Jim (Chad Post). In about the time it took you to read that sentence, these three friends find themselves wearing masks and beating down a guy in a parking lot. Why? Well, he apparently raped one of the local girls, and our heroes are looking to teach him a lesson for his crime. The plan goes off without a hitch, but they fail to notice the surveillance camera recording their actions. Unfortunately, the police get their hands on that tape, and as the film progresses, they will get closer and closer to discovering who was behind those masks.

However, that'll come later in the film. Meanwhile, we discover that Bret's girlfriend Veronica (Torey Marks) is none too happy with him over his little escapade, especially with him being on the brink of finally getting out of this town and doing something with his life. The two seem to be quite the happy couple, but it might not last for too long. You see, Bret is approached at a party by a young high school girl named Trish (Erin Prieto), a girl who apparently has the hots for our leading man. Bret assures her that he already has a girlfriend and isn't interested, but c'mon: a smoking-hot, barely legal girl is all but begging him to bang her with no strings attached. He's a straight male. What do you think happens? This infidelity and the aforementioned investigation kick off the two main plot points of the film, and as we move through the running time, we found out where things go from there while also getting a look at their home lives and interactions with one another - a true slice of life.

Knock 'Em Dead, Kid works because it keeps us interested. Writer / director Christopher L. Golon wasn't content to just show these guys beating up someone, give a reason for it, and call it a day: no, he added a hook to keep us guessing. While that hook is being explored, other hooks are popping up and other plot arcs are being created. For the most part, all of these twists and turns worked, and most of them seemed believable. Who wouldn't want to round up some buddies and put a hurting on somebody who raped a friend? Who wouldn't be tempted by a seductive vixen, especially when going through a lot of stress? We can believe in these characters, we can identify with them, and we know where they're coming from: this is the big reason why the film works.

There is one part of the plot that I feel didn't work, but I'm not going to reveal which so as to avoid spoilers. Let's just say that it involves the aftermath of an arrest by an overzealous cop (and to be clear, this arrest was not related to the beating that I mentioned above). This twist goes in a certain direction that just seems entirely out of place in the grand scheme of things. Is it completely unlikely to ever happen? No, of course not: in fact, something like this has happened, and you'll know what I'm referencing when you see it play out here. However, the majority of the film feels like something that could happen in any town, and there are times when you can see shades of yourself in the characters ("I've been there before, I know exactly what he's thinking"). This particular event brings that feeling to a screeching halt, and though it does serve the purpose of kicking the ending into motion, it just seems awkward.

This is but one gripe about the overall film, and admittedly, it is a minor one - in fact, you may feel completely different than I did about that scene. When looking at the rest of the film, I really can't find many faults. It features convincing acting save for a scene or two, and even though the film is a low budget affair, it doesn't give you many opportunities to notice. There are an abundance of great shots, everything is well-lit, and with the exception of a few scenes, the sound editing is perfect. I can overlook bad special effects and cheap CGI to a degree, but amateurish audio and video is the one thing that irks me to no end about a large chunk of indie efforts. That was not the case with this film.

Overall, Knock 'Em Dead, Kid lives up to its name. It's a solid effort by an up-and-comer who clearly has potential, and had this been a Hollywood release, it would have only needed a little spit and polish to garner a chance at some awards come the end of the year: fix the sound in this scene, do a retake on that scene, maybe a little rewriting on that one piece of the plot, and you have yourself a nominee. As it stands now, it will certainly find an audience on the festival circuit, and it should have no problems finding a home on DVD. Check it out when you can. 9/10.
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