More often than not, low-budget action movies are to slick Hollywood blockbusters what Barely Legal and Juggs are to Playboy and Penthouse: unrepentant bottom-feeders which theoretically make up for what they lack in gloss and production values with a carny-like dedication to providing the cheapest thrills imaginable. Sure, big-budget dreck like Mercury Rising might have the star power of Bruce Willis and a huge budget, but in its first 10 minutes alone, Whatever It Takes gives audiences not only performances by faded late-'80s icon Andrew "Dice" Clay and mid-'90s C-list action star Don "The Dragon" Wilson, but also a drug-dealing child molester, a shoot-out in a warehouse, a smack-addled woman willing to pimp her own daughter for a fix, a dead child, and a random bad guy inexplicably engulfed in flames. Sadly, though, it all goes downhill from there, as incompetence ruins many of the low-rent pleasures inherent in watching any film that features not only prominently nicknamed non-actors Wilson and Clay, but also blaxploitation semi-legend Fred "The Hammer" Williamson as a cigar-smoking baddie. Whatever It Takes' skeletal plot revolves around a pair of unconventional undercover cops (Clay and Wilson) who pose as drug dealers to get close to steroid-pushing crime kingpin Williamson. Along the way, there's plenty of bad acting, as well as numerous badly staged shoot-outs and production values that rank somewhere above homemade pornography but below poorly dubbed Mexican wrestling films. Only a slyly over-the-top Williamson stands out among the wreckage, while the puffy and vaguely frightening-looking Clay mostly just looks pathetic as he jabbers away hatefully to no effect, like a neutered Chihuahua.
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Echo Kellum on "Grand Crew," "The Rehearsal," and more