Apr 18, 2014

Review: No Pain, No Gain (2005)

The sport of bodybuilding is something I know of to the extent of Arnold Schwarzenegger's Pumping Iron. That's really about it. I'm an unbridled Arnold fan since the day I first saw The Terminator so bodybuilding is all the same a bit of an interest of mine. We all know that using steroids is a bit of a dirty secret in the sport and No Pain, No Gain's hero aims to prove that he can be the best without using anything but his brains.

Mike Zorillo is played by virtually unknown actor Gus Malliarodakis. He plays a former bodybuilder chamption who hails from Ohio. He's a farm boy who comes from humble beginnings and he's sort of lost his direction in life. He does however have these theories on some sort of natural steroid that can be unleashed to improve training gains but never is this "science" really explained in too much detail. He's challenged to compete in the West Coast Bodybuilding competition and it marks an opportunity to prove his theories right.

Judging a movie by its poster is like judging a book by its cover. I still have to say that No Pain, No Gain suffers from a terribly cheap looking design. The photoshopped red sports car takes the cake. But whatever, so they skimped out on a poster budget. Hopefully this movie is better in other areas right?

Think again. Firstly, the dialogue throughout this picture is a mess. Whether it's poor delivery or writing, No Pain, No Gain is riddled with unintentional hilarity. I had to take down this gem as an example:
"I know that with or without that stuff you're putting in your veins, I can be better than you. I AM better than you. And I'm going to prove that to everyone in August when I take your West Coast title away. You're just an injection and in fact I don't think you work out."
Buuurn. That's Mike Zorillo talking to his new rival, Jake Steel. Steel is a steroid pushing, bleach blond, muscle head who talks a big game. He has a big time supplement company on his side who back him up so you can be sure that Zorillo is in for a big challenge. There's a hilarious fight between the two that's basically just them hugging it out and rolling on the ground.

In terms of showing off the sport, No Pain, No Gain does a pretty mediocre job. When Mecca Gym is introduced, (It's in Venice Beach, LA which is the mecca of bodybuilding. Get it?) we're given an overly long look at all the men and women working out. It really just feels like a 13-year-old kid with a handheld walking around and pointing the camera. The extraneous conversations are really bad too.

When it comes to subject of steroids and other banned substances, too much time is spent showing all the different kinds. The dealer must have taken out around 15 different substances, naming each one while there's plenty of grinning and laughing. It's like a drug dealers scene out of a Steven Segal movie.

Mike Zorillo has the help of the granddaughter of his previous landlord and a computer genius who does his best to impersonate Jim Carey. For a sports movie, No Pain, No Gain has an awful training montage. C'mon, that's like the most import part but it totally fails to deliver any sort of excitement and the musical choice doesn't work.

The final competition suffers from more shoddy camera work. It feels like the cameraman is trying to capture everything but fails to capture anything at all. The extraneous audience dialogue here is also really awkward.

In the end, No Pain, No Gain fails to offer any sort of engaging story. The characters are all hamstrung by the awful writing and the production feels very low budget. The lead, Gus Malliarodakis is not a very charismatic actor either. Honestly, it was pretty painful watching this movie so let's hope I've gained something.

3/10