I’ve often wondered if good actors can make a bad script good. Equally I’ve wondered if they can make bad directing seem good. Well now, thanks to Skin Traffik, I have my definitive answer: NO. Skin Traffik is bad, I mean really bad. I’m not sure what the budget was but it’s low budget bad. Not low budget bad-but-good, just low budget bad.
Ara Praiaya Directed, Produced, Cast, Filmed, Edited, Acted in and did the Action and Fight Choreography for this movie, so you know squarely where to put the blame. He came up with the story too though writing credits go to Adam Davidson who whas worked with Ara previously. Ara has directed a lot of films and starred in them too. If a film is low budget, as most of his films are, then that’s one thing and there’s a forgivness level, there’s only so much you can do with a limited budget. However, Skin Traffik has an incredible cast, I mean really good, that couldn’t have come cheap.
Somehow Ara managed to get: Mickey Rourke, Eric Roberts, Daryl Hannah, Michael Madsen, Jeff Fahey and Alan Ford to star in this. From the very start the word that springs to mind is how? They must have been bored, or needed the money, or heck-I-don’t-know, but it couldn’t have been from the script, surely?
The movie looks like it was filmed on the set of Eastenders, or maybe Coronation Street. A car chase occurs which is very obviously filmed in a car wreckers yard which the main ‘hero’, former fighter Gary Daniels, inexplicably drives into. There are men, and I shit you not here, there are men stacking big blue plastic barrels in front of parked cars for absolutely no reason what-so-ever…oh wait, it’s so the bad guys can drive into them. I actually expected a couple of guys to walk in the path of the cars carrying a large piece of glass!
The editing means we jump from camera to camera like there’s a time limit on them. The acting is bad, I mean, it’s just, I can’t explain it. Again, if you ever wondered how much the director affects the acting then I guess you need to see how it shouldn’t be done. The only person who seems anywhere near what you’d expect is Daryl Hannah. I know, I was surprised as well. Mickey Rourke is a million miles away from his performance in The Fighter. Michael Madsen, well, let’s just say I’m sure this is going to be a performance he will want to forget. Dominique Swain (Face/Off, Lolita) plays a prostitute with the worst Russian accent you’ll ever hear.
The dialogue is badly written and when it isn’t you can’t tell as everything else is so bad. There’s a lot of fighting in the movie and to give you an idea of how this is directed: you see Daniels hit someone, then we cut to another camera, a different angle, where we see the person falling on a table, or hitting their head, or falling down the stairs…you get the idea. There are no clean, one-shot takes where a prop is involved. I’m pretty sure this is how they did TV back in the 70’s.
In a strange way I am glad I saw this movie. It’s highlighted how required a good writer and director are. How, even if you assemble a great cast, a good movie it does not make. I wouldn’t recommend you watch it though. If you want to see a good low budget movie try Bad Taste, Peter Jackson’s first full length movie, or anything that comes out of Troublemaker Studios, Robert Rodriguez’s production company.