Craig Zahler

7.4 Brawl in Cell Block 99 (2017)
6.3 Dragged Across Concrete (2018)

Craig Zahler (1973) debuted with the western movie Bone Tomahawk (2015).

Brawl in Cell Block 99 (2017) is one of the most brutal prison movies ever made.

Bradley gets fired from his job. When he gets home, he catches his wife Lauren, who was not expecting him so early, talking on the phone to a man. She confesses that she has a lover. Bradley is a very strong man and destroys her car without even using a hammer, just his hands. Then he calmly confronts his wife who tells him that she felt abandoned by him after her miscarriage. He is ready to forgive her and start over again. He decides to call his drug-dealing friend Gil and work for him as a delivery person, a "drug mule". Eighteen months later, Bradley delivers a package to a security guard behind a bulletproof window and is given a large amount of money. Then he drives home in the countryside, where he changes the license plate of his car and hides it under a tree. Then he walks home where two bigger cars are parked. His home is now a two-story villa. Lauren is pregnant and is over-protective. They have a cradle ready for the baby. Gil, who lives in an even more luxurious villa, summons him to a meeting with his new Mexican business partner Eleazar. Gil's sexy daughter opens the door. Bradley has become Gil's most trusted man and Gil wants him to accompany two of Eleazar's men, Pedro and Roman, to pick up a big shipment of drugs. Bradley is reluctant because he senses that Roman cannot be trusted, but Gil boths orders him and begs him. Bradley's instinct turns out to be right: after a brief boat trip in Gil's yacht, they fall into a police trap; Bradley orders Pedro and Ramon to dump the drugs into the water, but instead they start shooting at the cops. Bradley watches from a distance, then walks towards the shootout and coldly kills Pedro and knocks out Roman. He is arrested, and refuses to give the name of his boss, but of course the fact that he helped the cops gets him a lenient sentence. He is sentenced to seven years in a prison nicknamed "Fridge", more than he expected. (The incarceration is shown in painstaking detail). An old prisoner who has been in prison for 28 years is his "orientation guide" in prison. One of the guards, Andre, guesses that Bradley must have been a boxer but Bradley refuses to answer. From the night in the cell the film moves to his bedroom, where Lauren hears an intruder break into the house. She grabs a gun but they hit her with tranquillizers and then kidnap her. Denise is the case worker assigned to him. She informs him that Lauren's obstetrician needs to talk to him about some pregnancy complications. But the "obstetrician" turns out to be a messenger from Eleazar, who is angry at Bradley for throwing away that bag of drugs. He shows him a picture of Lauren tied and gagged. Eleazar wants Bradley to pay his debt by killing a prisoner kept in a maximum-security prison or his wife will be subject to a horrible surgery. The messenger implies that Bradley has to do something that will get him transferred to a maximum-security prison. Bradley walks away silently and then attacks Andre, punching him and breaking his arm. He then attacks the guards who are escorting him out until they subdue him with pepper spray and taser. He is welcomed by the warden who promises to kill him if he makes any more trouble and locks him up to a shared cell with a clogged toilet. A fellow convict tells him that his target is probably kept in cell block 99, reserved for psychos. Bradley immediately starts a brutal fight with a Mexican gang so the warden locks him in cell block 99, which is basically a torture chamber. The guards strap a belt on him. The warden demonstrates how it works by pressing a button: it sends electric shocks. He is then locked into a cell whose floor is covered with broken glass. He calls loud the name of his target but the other prisoners tell him that there is no such prisoner. A guard pulls him out of the cell in the middle of the night and escorts him to a cell where "friends" want to talk to him. The guard delivers him to Eleazar, Roman and two other gangsters who are kept in the same prison. The guard only tells Eleazar not to kill Bradley because he would get in trouble with the warden. Eleazar repeats that Bradley cost him a lot of money and Pedro (who Bradley killed) was his sister's husband. Eleazar and Roman torture Bradley until he falls unconscious without telling him what they want. Back in his cell Bradley finds a way to minimize the pain from the electric shocks by insulating his belly with the rubber soils of his shoes. When the corrupt guard comes to pick him for another torture session, Bradley attacks him and locks him in his own cell, and, when he tries to escape, kills him. Bradley removes his handcuffs, shackles and the electric belt, and walks into Eleazar's cell. Bradley beats up to death Eleazar's three henchmen using the most brutal moves. Then he proceeds to torture Eleazar until he accepts to call his men and release Lauren. Eleazar's right-hand man delivers Lauren to Gil's house. Gil pulls out a gun and shoots the man and Lauren personally grabs the gun and kills the surgeon who was in the back seat. Meanwhile, Bradley tells the warden that he will surrender himself as soon as he receives a phone call. Lauren calls him from Gil's phone to confirm that she's free and unharmed. Bradley says bye to her in tears and then brutally kills Eleazar and keeps stomping on his neck until he severs his head that falls in the toilet hole. The warden shoots Bradley in the head and in the chest.

Dragged Across Concrete (2018)

(Copyright © 2019 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )