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Over the GW

Seventh Art Releasing

NEW YORK — Filmmaker Nick Gaglia has based this debut feature on his own hellish experiences in a New Jersey rehab center that subsequently was shut down by the authorities. But while one can readily sympathize with what he must have gone through, it's not enough to excuse "Over the GW," which he wrote, directed, edited and photographed. As has been proved so many times before, good intentions don't excuse amateurish execution. The film recently received its U.S. theatrical premiere at the Two Boots Pioneer Theater in New York.

George Gallagher plays the role of the filmmaker's alter ego Tony Serra, a troubled Bronx teen who is shuttled off to a rehab center in Jersey (the title refers to the George Washington Bridge) by his concerned parents because of his drug and alcohol dependencies. His sister (Kether Donohue) is soon consigned to the same fate.

But what was supposed to be a 30-day stay stretches into 21/2 years. The siblings are subjected to brutal treatment at the hands of the center's clearly psychotic director (Albert Insinnia) and his cultlike employees, who deliver physical and emotional abuse in a variety of ways that the film depicts in harrowing fashion.

Unfortunately, the innate power of the story is dampened by a mainly incoherent script, lackluster direction, annoying cinematography that alternates between black-and-white and garish color and ineffective performances. Running a mere 76 minutes, the film seems to depict its characters' incarceration in all-too-real time.

Dynamite Warrior

Magnolia Pictures

NEW YORK — A Thai chop-socky Western featuring wall-to-wall fight scenes of the particularly painful-looking Muay Thai variety, "Dynamite Warrior" has enough action to satisfy even the most demanding martial arts buff.

Typically lacking in coherence and credibility, this genre effort directed and edited by Chalerm Wongpim is being given a stateside theatrical release but will find its true home in video stores alongside such predecessors as "Tears of the Black Tiger" and "Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior."

Dan Chupong stars as the titular figure, a good guy named Jone Bang Fai who specializes in retrieving water buffalo that have been stolen by bandits and returning them to their rightful owners. He's looking in particular for the rustler who killed his family years earlier, identifiable by the raised tattoo on his chest.

Opposing Jone is Lord Wang (Leo Putt), who is looking to get rid of the water buffalo so he can fulfill his evil plan to replace them with, uh, expensive tractors. His henchmen include the Black Wizard and a cannibalistic ex-con, but what really makes him distinctive is his vulnerability to, uh, menstrual blood.

Of course, the laughable plot and characters are merely an excuse for the constant battles, which in this case have an added twist: The hero also is an expert on explosives, so he frequently propels himself into action by riding on what are essentially giant firecrackers.

Not all of the fight sequences, which include overly heavy doses of slow-motion, are entirely effective. And the nonstop barrage ultimately proves more wearisome than exciting. But none of these quibbles is likely to detract fans of the genre from becoming excited about this latest giddy exercise in martial-arts mayhem.
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