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25 Things We Learned from the Dangerous Men Commentary

By  · Published on April 26th, 2016


There are good movies, bad movies, and plenty of movies in between — and then there are movies like Dangerous Men. It’s a charmingly inept action/drama that’s utterly uninterested in predictability or following the norms of narrative film-making. Characters come and go, main plot points are dropped randomly while others are picked up, and it was filmed over two decades. Two decades for an 80-minute movie with zero narrative cohesion! It’s pretty magical in its own special way, and as the credits make clear, it’s all due to writer/director John S. Rad.

Drafthouse Films helped reintroduce it to the world, and their Blu-ray/DVD release features interviews, a documentary on the film’s rebirth, and a fittingly funny and ridiculous commentary track. It’s not for everyone, but it’s definitely for someone — and you know who you are.

Keep reading to see what I heard on the Dangerous Men commentary.

Dangerous Men (2005)

Commentators: Zack Carlson and Bryan Connolly (co-authors of Destroy All Movies)

1. “As you can see from the credits sequence here there’s an incredible pool of talent that came together to make this movie,” jokes Carlson, as the opening credits list John Rad as creator, writer, producer, music/song/lyrics composer, executive producer, and director.

2. “John S. Rad” is the Americanized and much shortened version of his actual Iranian name, Jehangir Salehi Yeganehrad.

3. The original theatrical screenings of the film were done via “four-walling” which means that Rad had to rent out the theater — basically pay them to play the movie — while also advertising it himself. Very few people ended up actually catching it during this time.

4. Rad claimed in interviews that this was his 13th film including ten in Iran and three here in the U.S., “but when he was pressed for details about his other movies he was really evasive.” Carlson says one of his Iranian features is currently available on YouTube without subtitles. He thinks the American ones are titled Under the Cover of Night and Tough & Deadly, but there’s a theory that one of them is simply a re-edited version of Dangerous Men.

5. Rad left Iran in 1979 two weeks before the Ayatollah took power.

6. The film was shot over 22 years from 1984 to 2005, “but the movie takes place over ten days.” Rad says it took so long to shoot because he wanted to ensure everyone in the cast and crew was paid fairly and fully. “But when we were discussing the movie with some of the actors who appeared in it and who have since chosen to not be associated with the new release,” says Carlson, “they said that they were given at most $10 a day and a McDonald’s hamburger.”

7. Writer/director Amir Shervan (Samurai Cop) helped his fellow Iranian filmmaker and introduced him to cinematographer Peter Palian who was on-set throughout the entire two decades of production.

8. Carlson is impressed with the believability of the performers cast as bikers here. Rather than the typical young and fit actors “in this movie there’s really just fat dads.”

9. Carlson says audiences find it jarring when Mina, having just witnessed the murder of her fiance, who she loved very, very much, immediately starts to seduce the killer. “When you watch this movie with an audience they tend to get really quiet and really shocked by this part.”

10. Rad said he had no cinema influences and was instead inspired by his own experiences and interests. He was also inspired by something his father told him as a child, “which was ‘Impossible is impossible.'” So that explains a few things.

11. They are understandably amazed and impressed at the 14:54 mark by the “incredible work of optical illusion in film” accomplished via the mirror’s placement. It looks like the pants belong to the motel clerk, but they’re actually the biker’s pants in the mirror. Visual magic my friends, visual magic. IMDB lists Rad as the film’s set decorator too, so it was definitely intentional.

12. Carlson mentions Melody Wiggins’ performance with a compliment but adds “we shouldn’t talk about her at great length by her own preference because she has chosen to not be associated with the film because she’s now a respected physician. So nobody bother her on social media please.”

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Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he's so damn young. He's our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists 'Broadcast News' as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.