Bad Ass is the story of Frank Vega (Trejo), a Mexican immigrant who, after years working as hot dog vendor, finds fame on the internet for his "have a go" hero efforts on a bus. However, when his best friend is killed, he hunts down the people responsible with revenge in mind, even if it leads him to get involved with a much bigger conspiracy than he could have imagined. It also leads to him being drawn to his female neighbour and her son, who he also has to protect.
Bad Ass is not a particularly original film. The old man finding redemption through vengeance plotline has been well trodden, especially in recent years with films such as Gran Torino and Harry Brown. That said, Bad Ass is actually very entertaining. Trejo plays the same character he does in every film, but he does well in that role, and is consistent here. The action sequences are well done, if not clearly on a small budget, and they never feel forced or superfluous to the plot. Also, Vega is presented as a flawed character, who although ostensibly a good man, is clearly searching for some kind of inner peace, which gives the film its moral outlook.
However, there are some negative aspects to the film. Perlman plays the mayor, but his part is incredibly insignificant, as is his time on screen. Essentially, he is reduced to a cameo, which seems a waste of his considerable talents. Perlman is an action icon given his roles in Hellboy, but also in the hit show Sons of Anarchy, so the sight of him in a suit seems out of place and an odd choice for that role, especially as he seems as though he is phoning in his performance. Equal to Perlman’s clear lack of passion for the role, is the overacting by a number of the villains. The skinhead antagonists who are involved in the original incident with Vega are so unbelievable and exaggerated that they come across as comedic, which I highly doubt was the intention.
The plot of Bad Ass is mostly logical, if not somewhat by the numbers. The twist in the final act is predictable and unoriginal, and very much telegraphed from the outset. However, as with much of Bad Ass, this doesn’t take away from the enjoyment of the film, and in the end while it may not be hugely original, it is still a gripping and interesting story that while not re-inventing the wheel, certainly does a reasonable job of manufacturing a replica.