BRAWL IN CELL BLOCK 99 (director/writer: S. Craig Zahler; cinematographer: Benji Bakshi; editor: Greg D’Auria; music: Jeff Herriott, S. Craig Zahler; cast:  Vince Vaughn (Bradley Thomas), Jennifer Carpenter (Lauren Thomas),  Udo Kier (Placid Man),  Don Johnson (Warden Tuggs), Victor Almanzar (Pedro), Dan Ambover (Longman), Marc Blucas (Gil), Rob Morgan (Jeremy), Geno Segas (Roman), Mustafa Shakir (Andre), Thomas Guiry (Wilson), Dion Mucciacito (Eleazar), Willie C. Carpenter (Lefty), Fred Melamed (Mr. Irving), Clark Johnson (Det. Watkins); Runtime: 132; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Jack Heller, Dallas Sonnier; RLJ Films; 2017)

"A brutal nightmarish exploitation prison movie where Vince Vaughn, once a nebbish comedian, apes badass Charles Bronson."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A brutal nightmarish exploitation prison movie where Vince Vaughn, once a nebbish comedian, apes badass Charles Bronson. It's forcefully directed and written by indie filmaker S. Craig Zahler ("Bone Tomahawk").
The tough-guy and former boxer Bradley Thomas (Vince Vaughn), with a cross tattooed on the back of his shaved head, is a drug lord’s (Marc Blucas) right-hand man who goes to a minimum-security cell block for a seven-year sentence after caught with some Mexican smugglers. Even though he doesn't squeal on the Mexican drug lord Eleazar (Dion Mucciacito), the drug lord seeks revenge and kidnaps Bradley’s pregnant wife (Jennifer Carpenter). He demands Bradley do a violent act to get transferred to Cell Block 99, a maximum-security place, where he's to whack an inmate. If he doesn't do the job, the crime boss will have his wife's unborn baby aborted and his wife harmed.

To earn a spot in Cell Box 99 Bradley pulls out eyeballs and breaks a few legs of some guards, and smashes a car with his hands. Through this rampage the Vaughn character still appears as a sympathetic character and is the film's good guy (if that's possible to stomach).

Don Johnson plays the sadistic quipster warden, who detests Bradley.
The German actor Udo Kier plays the sinister associate of the Mexican drug lord, who gives Bradley his marching orders.

The no-nonsense roughhouse prison flick should play well in prisons, grindhouses and on late-night cable. It's watchable entertainment for those who like violent flicks that don't make excuses for their excesses.

REVIEWED ON 2/13/2018       GRADE: B

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"