Winning The Lottery With Nicolas Cage #71
My name is Ed and I need to win the lottery because the sum total of my worldly wealth is £9.98 in change plus some foreign coins and a token from a live games event an ex-girlfriend ran in 2012. Have you seen the price of the own brand Tesco lager these days? This no way to live. In order to guarantee that I will win the lottery I am picking the numbers using the complete works of Nicolas Cage, in order, in the hope that the otherworldly magic channelled by his best performances will somehow bring me luck.
Outcast starts with two Crusaders, one of whom is played by Nicolas Cage, abandoning their mission because they’re sickened by the murder of innocents and oh my god wasn’t Season Of The Witch bad enough the first time? The two films have similar enough openings that I genuinely started to wonder if I was finally properly losing it, 71 Cage projects in.
The storylines diverge a few minutes in, and Outcast takes a less tediously supernatural tack, as instead of going home they run away to China, for no readily explained reason. Instead of Ron Perlman, Cage is accompanied by Hayden Christensen, apparently determined to prove that the Star Wars prequels won’t be the nadir of his acting life.
The plot concerns the succession of the Emperor’s throne, the old Emperor’s dying wish that throne go to his quiet sensible youngest son rather than his bloodthirsty warmonger eldest son. This obviously works out well for everyone concerned. The younger son and a sister end up on the run, hiring Hayden Christensen, who’s actually ostensibly the star of this, to protect them.
About the best you can say for Christensen here is that he avoids attempting to act if at all possible, though there is a weird subplot about him being hooked on opium that seems to have lost any point it might have had somewhere in the cutting room.
Then you get to Nic Cage, who isn’t actually in this very much and appears to have no interest in the movie as written, instead opting to play a sort of ersatz Captain Jack Sparrow. Between laughing his head off, wearing a series of improbable hats and barking bizarre dialogue like “The Black Guards are as thick as flies on a farting goat’s arse”, it’s hard to credit that he’s doing anything else than outright taking the piss. On the other hand this bizarre turn is the only thing of any interest in the film whatsoever, so fair play.
Eventually the plot plods towards the predictable conclusion via some dull travelogue and rote fight scenes, without ever having stopped to consider things like characters, story or a comprehensible screenplay. There’s a strange moment where someone raises the idea that autocracy might not be that great whoever wins, which is a sort of weird thing to hang a lampshade on unless you’re seriously worried about people getting offended by the politics of a fictional, ahistorical, version of 12th century China.
Outcast seems to have been a badly calculated attempt at a film with wide international appeal, i.e. putting ‘established’ American stars in a Chinese setting. Unfortunately a Christensen/Cage pairing was deemed unworthy of US cinemas, and the Chinese release was delayed over censorship issues. Oops. Still, I can only assume it will win me the lottery.
3 — Our merry band of outcasts takes in a girl whose village has been destroyed by the Black Guard. Qiang says it’s worth the trouble because their enemies seek 3…
4 — not 4. There really aren’t a lot of numbers in this film. No bloody number plates in the 12th century.
10 — Qiang, the would-be boy emperor is accused by Nicolas Cage of being 10.
12 — The history in this film is vague in a way that suggests no-one involved could be arsed to crack a book, but a caption near the start informs us that we’re in the 12th century.
14 — Qiang, the would-be boy emperor is actually 14. This is a bit embarrassing. Put more numbers in your movies.
18 — According to Chinese mythology, as referenced here, there are 18 levels of hell. Presumably on one of those levels you have to watch Outcast over and over again.
2 numbers, so I win a Lucky Dip. Outcast finally paid off for someone!
NEXT TIME ON NICOLAS CAGE:
Apparently Medium makes it quite hard to find previous instalments of this so I have made a sort of index thing, here.
Do not spend your money on lottery tickets because you think watching Nicolas Cage films will enable you to win the lottery. The only real winner in the lottery is the lottery, bad artists, and people who actually win the lottery.