New To Blu: Bloody Knuckles

Mike reviews this week's Artsploitation release, Bloody Knuckles, new to blu-ray. 

"Finally someone brought out the gimp!"
Free speech and political correctness are popular topics of discussion these days.  The brutal murder of writers and cartoonists at the French newspaper Charlie Hebdo in January proved that even art and satire are not immune from consequence if the offended party doesn't see the humor.  The film Bloody Knuckles may have been made before the Hebdo massacre, but its overall themes are eerily parallel to the tragedy.  Unfortunately, what could have been clever satire gets muddied in a bloody mess of a film that can't quite decide how seriously it wants to take itself.

The problem with Bloody Knuckles is that the intended message gets lost in a lot of what else is going on.  The anti-censorship rants at the story's heart are folded awkwardly into a plot reminiscent of the 199 film Idle Hands, with some weird S&M stuff thrown in for good measure.  None of these concepts mesh as well together as the viewer might hope.  Somewhere in this presentation could have been a pretty smart, interesting story had the correct balance between these been struck.  Unfortunately writer/director Matt O. appeared to be in a bit over his head, resulting in a tonally very uneven film.

"You don't know where
those fingers have been!"
The special effects, which are well-done considering the likely budget limitations, are a saving grace.  Besides the expected gore and other bodily fluids, the centerpiece is our hero's disembodied hand.  Though many of the same techniques used to create it date back as far as 1991's The Addams Family, the effect is still impressive here, and it results in a few interesting and fun scenes.  Most of the effects are of the gross-out variety though, and Bloody Knuckles reaches for the stars here.  It's not quite on the ridiculousness level of the legendary Riki-Oh: The Story of Riki, but it certainly does try.  The acting in the film is also better than it has any right to be, with all of the leads turning in some impressive performances given the material.

Sadly, neither of these is enough from keeping Bloody Knuckles from becoming as figurative of a mess as it is a literal one.  Its prescient message about fighting back against censorship is at times pushed a bit too far in the opposite direction, resulting in uncomfortable moments of shock-for-shock's-sake.  What we're left with is a disgusting, disjointed, disappointing "horror comedy" that never manages to succeed completely at being either one.  Bloody Knuckles attempts to shock, but only manages to be shockingly mediocre.


-Mike Stec

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