In his directorial debut, Tarantino is Clark Duke’s middle name.

Clark Duke is known for starring in a number of movies, including “Superbad,” “Sex Drive,” Kick Ass,” “Hot Tub Time Machine,” “The Croods,” and “Bad Moms.” And he was also on television shows, like “The Office” and “Robot Chicken.” He’s the guy with the glasses for the record, and he’s makes his directorial debut of “Arkansas,” which plays like a B movie with a Quentin Tarantino style.

Other recent examples of Tarantino filmmaking would be “Bad Times at the El Royale,” which wasn’t there hit it should have been, and “Hunters,” the Amazon Prime series about Nazi-hunters in the 70s. I’m a Tarantino fan, so I was impressed with how Duke expanded his horizons by taking the director’s chair with that sort of charisma. And he also seems to be having a good time in front of the camera.

In this movie, Duke and Liam Hemsworth play two drug dealers named Swin Horn and Kyle Ribb, who both find themselves working for the drug kingpin Frog (Vince Vaughn) under the supervision of the park ranger Bright (John Malkovich). But when Bright gets killed by a buyer’s grandson (Chandler Duke, the younger brother of you know who), they have to figure out a way out of this situation, and leaving Frog’s organization would mean death for the both of them.

We also travel back to the late 80s, when Frog found himself under the eye of Almond (Michael Kenneth Williams), whom he threw under the bus. That’s how he took control of his business, and how he never tolerated any rule breaking.

And on the side, Swin has a thing for a nurse named Johanna (Eden Brolin, daughter of Josh Brolin), who knows about his and Kyle’s game. At one point, you think she’s a con artist, which would have been a typical cliché, but luckily, she isn’t. Why would I accuse her of that? There was just that scene when Kyle reveals to her their position that convinced me.

Did I understand the whole story (which Duke based off of John Brandon’s novel)? No, because it’s often confusing with how the drug game works. And I’m never comfortable seeing people having their eyes gauged out, even if it only happens once here.

But “Arkansas” has the qualities of a low-budget crime film, inspired by fresher, more original films in the genre, without feeling so self-congratulatory and overdosed like “Mad Dog Time.” Duke does some good work in front of and behind the camera, and Hemsworth delivers the goods when he acts and talks tough, while dealing with his partner’s goofiness. And out of the star-studded supporting actors, the best would happen to be Vivica A. Fox as another proxy named Her, who has her religious views and often sasses the main dealers. The way Duke handles her character reminds me of how Tarantino guided Pam Grier in “Jackie Brown.”

But I better stop saying “Tarantino” in this review before you guys think he had a part in this movie. He didn’t, but Duke uses his influences to make “Arkansas” a stylish Indie.


Available on Demand, Digital, and Blu-ray

Categories: Crime, Drama, Thriller

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