Brawl in Cell Block 99



06 October 2017| No Comments on Brawl in Cell Block 99     by Sean Chavel



Vince Vaughn is for once tightly wound, with an unseen but suggested id that promises the potential for something livid and primal. That’s the opposite of the comical Vaughn we always get. Vaughn, dropping the jittery mannerisms when he played Norman Bates in “Psycho,” creates for once a truly dangerous and formidable antihero (with a moral compass) as bald-headed Bradley Thomas in Brawl in Cell Block 99. Instantly, it should be regarded as the best B-movie of the year – this is excellent, woozy exploitation that also has something on its mind (the writer-director is S. Craig Zahler whose previous credit is “Bone Tomahawk”). Sure, it’s a little small in activity for thirty minutes, but when its’ plot takes shape, the movie is quite riveting with a “what the heck is he going to do next” suspense. Personally, I’ll take the low-cost but vicious charged action scenes of this flick over superhero CGI any day of the week.

Drug runner Bradley gets incarcerated for seven years into a minimal security prison after walking tall on his own convictions. Inside prison, Bradley gets an immediate plate-glass window visit by a ruthless gangster’s henchman (Udo Kier), who says he owes millions to the Mexican cartel, and that to pay for it, he’s going to have to get transferred to maximum security hell – called Red Leaf – and perform a hit. If he doesn’t, Bradley’s wife on the outside is gonna suffer. Like bad.

To get to Red Leaf, Bradley has to beat the hell out of the prison guards to earn his transfer, which he does (it’s easy for a true meathead). Then at Red Leaf, Bradley has to move from one crap-polluted cell block to the one hell-on-Earth of a cell block, which is an off-the-record dungeon part of the prison. Bradley has to take his beatings to get there, but the dude knows how to dish it back out. Bad boy threats are tossed back and forth, in a script that has corrosive bite, and there’s extra gravy when you have the wry talent of Don Johnson as the abusive warden. “Brawl in Cell Block 99” is a vicious thriller that’s like a low-budget Tarantino movie that the master could have made between “Reservoir Dogs” and “Pulp Fiction.” My jaw dropped in the way I couldn’t believe in what just happened, and that happened a lot because, oh my god, the more it goes on the more it’s effin’ crazy. Bound to be a cult item for off-the-wall video collectors, for sure, but let’s be more direct about this: It’s going to be a major cult item for years to come.

132 Minutes. Rated R.


Film Cousins: “Rolling Thunder” (1977); “Lock Up” (1989); “A Prophet” (2008, France); “Cell 211” (2009, Spain).

Brawl_in_Cell_Block_99 Review_FlickMinute

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.


There are No Comments about this post

Add Yours!

You must be logged in to post a comment.