The cover of Live Feed (2005) looked pretty promising, and the synopsis, while sounding like yet another xenophobic tourists-in-trouble movie, didn't sound half bad. And it wasn't. It was only 99.9% bad.
The premise of the film is simple: 5 asshole Americans on vacation in China (at least I think it's supposed to be China. They never actually mention just where they are) watch a street vendor butcher a small dog, spill beer of a Chinese Mafia leader, are helped by a good-looking Japanese dude, then go to a porno theater to unwind. But of course, the theater is owned by said Mafia leader, who films them having sex in the couples room and the dirty-ass bathroom before sending in Andre the Giant to slaughter them so he can watch via his live feed (That's the name of the Show!)
Having summarized the movie, it still sounds pretty good. Puppy butchering...check. Sex...check. Beheading...check. Cannibalism...double check. What could have gone wrong?
First off, the movie lost me in the first five minutes when I realized all five of the "protagonists" were despicable, immature pricks and I couldn't wait for them to die. Sure there's a certain pleasure in seeing characters you don't like being offed one by one. But I prefer movies that make you actually like the characters before they get slaughtered. Call me a masochist, but honestly, how much tension could Carpenter have built if we were all waiting for Jamie Lee Curtis to die because she was an annoying little bitch. No, Laurie Strode is pretty much everyone's favorite final girl, so when Michael is just outside of that closet, we feel real fear. I always get very hushed during that scene, as if my silence will somehow keep Laurie safe. If it were any of the characters in Live Feed, I would have been giving Michael directions. "She's in the closet, dude! Stab her! Stab her! Slit her throat!"
Fear...negative. Tension...none. Characters you can give a shit about...Hells no.
Beyond that, the movie is xenophobic beyond belief. I give Eli Roth a pass for Hostel. I don't think he's saying we should all stay home because foreign countries are full of savages. I think most tourists-in-trouble films exploit people's fear of being in a country where you don't speak the language, you don't know the culture, and you can get yourself into trouble without even knowing it. Travel can be scary, which makes it the perfect situation for horror. Horror is about exploiting fears, no?
The difference with Live Feed is that every single Chinese person is made out to be a ruthless psychotic. The one person that helps the dumbshit Americans is Japanese and has a personal vendetta against the gangsters for killing his brother. Given the lingering animosity between the Chinese and Japanese, having the hero be Japanese strikes me as sort of racist. The hilarious thing is that all of the gangsters speak English, even when they're not in the presence of English-speakers. They just speak English amongst themselves. Some of them even have American accents.
The 0.1% of the film that is good is a scene that is so blatantly racist and stupid that it transcends both qualities and enters the realm of classic. Apparently, in addition to being a power-tripping, sadistic asshole, the Mafia leader (who leaves no part of the set without teeth marks) is also a cannibal. The puppy-butchering street vendor also happens to be in his employ to do the day-to-day task of human butchering. I'm not sure why he retains his street vendor gig-you'd think the mafia would pay pretty good. Nevertheless, he cooks up a couple of our tourists and serves them to the Mafia leader and his two girlfriends in their private theater where the slaughter videos are piped in. One of the girlfriends looks at the plate and gets this disappointed look on her face, then says, "No dickie rolls? I like balls and dickie." Then the other girlfriend chimes in, "Chinese girl eat white dickie roll."
I'm not kidding.
"Chinese girl eat white dickie roll," for fuck's sake!
Now I'm afraid I've convinced you to see this piece of crap, if only for that one line. Don't do it. It's not worth it, man.
In the end, the Japanese dude goes to the porno theater to rescue them, which is ridiculous because before they went in, he half-heartedly tried to warn them that the place was bad news. Think about it, he knew they had just pissed off the mafia, her knew the mafia owned the place, and he also knew if they went in, they were going to die. You'd think he would have tried a little harder to dissuade them from going in the first place, rather than have to come back 30 minutes later with guns.
From here the movie turns into a low-grade action flick. I'm sure the ending sucked balls and dickie too, but I didn't make it that far. I was spared by a blessed, drunken sleep.