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Semi-confusingly released the same year as Michael Bay's execrable BAD BOYS 2, Vicky Kumar's BAD BOYS thankfully bears no relation to its American counterpart. It's a pretty standard low-budget Indian action flick with a few standout moments.
Copyright infringement starts early and extreme, with the very first frames of the film (outside the opening credits, which come superimposed over promotional materials in the style of '70s American sex pictures) coming from a blurry video copy of SCREAM being watched on TV. It's weird to think of this has a hip reference in 2003, when Craven's film was already seven years old and had received two sequels, but BAD BOYS tries to wring a fair amount of mileage from it, having a couple of the main characters stalked by a mystery assailant and even going so far as to copy Jamie Kennedy's "look out behind you" speech beat-for-beat as it plays out on TV. With the source sequence already self-referential, it's surreal to see it played straight again on top of itself. The result is weirdly insipid enough to almost approach genius.
Of course, the whole thing is a fake-out - it's just the main characters rehearsing a play (which they never mention again) that for some reason includes a multi-level mockup of a suburban house and elaborate bloodletting effects. Our cast of protagonists constitutes the five titular "bad boys" along with their sexy female friend Ruhi, who is lusted after by two members of the gang - Rahul, whom she's dating, and Max.
The first third of the film is nearly plotless, and consists mainly of the gang's adventures around their school. In addition to rehearsing their improbably elaborate play, they make frequent trips to the beach to romp in the ocean and perform musical numbers by moonlight. They also try to convince an effeminate classmate to show up to a talent competition in a women's bathing suit, then attempt to extort a ruthless gangster by simply calling and telling him they'll kill him if he doesn't pay. Weirdly, he agrees, though the six end up in the clink once he phones the police.
All of this is prelude to the bizarre kidnapping venture that dominates the rest of the film, with Ruhi's abduction presumably arranged by her family to keep her from eloping with Rahul. But is there something more sinister going on behind the scenes?
Things really bog down in this second half, with the guys abducting another small-time criminal and holding him for ransom to pay off Ruhi's kidnapper's demands. The crook, Sobhraj, played by GUNDA's Mukesh Rishi, is almost comically indifferent to his predicament, developing immediate sympathy to the boys' demands. He even forgives them - near instantaneously - for chopping off one of his fingers in an attempt to prove they're serious about the kidnapping. Nevertheless, Rishi's magnetism (he was GUNDA's preeminent scene-stealer as Bulla, a gangster who speaks only in profane couplets) is little match for the lethargic writing and pacing of the second half, which basically finds all the characters killing time until the inevitable conclusion. There's no plot advancement, nothing happening - just a lot of endless bickering that leads nowhere. After a pleasingly anarchic opening, it's a bit of a letdown, and leaves one thankful the film only runs 118 minutes - mercifully brief by Bollywood standards.
Technical credits are sufficient, with at the very least proper lighting, framing, and focus, in contrast to the C-level dreck of Kanti Shah and Harinam Singh. Musical interludes, of which there are a scant four, are again a step above, with some scene and costume changes, though no extras or more expansive camerawork. Overall, it's a thoroughly B-level production, cheap but not too cheap, and mostly fun in its nimble and directionless first act before turning into a non-committal second-tier potboiler. Unless you have particular reason to seek it out (I was curious based on a poster I'd purchased), you're better off seeking your thrills elsewhere.
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