The latest chapter in one of the stranger stories in film history unfolds in the Twin Cities this weekend. It's the opening of the sequel to "Boondock Saints," a cult movie released a decade ago.
Panned by critics and derided for its violence, the film has a huge fan following and made tens of millions of dollars.
Director Troy Duffy, a controversial figure himself, came to the Twin Cities with one of the film's stars to show fans the new movie.
The Boondock Saints are two Irishmen who, convinced they are protected by God, go on a vigilante rampage against mafia hoodlums in Boston.
At first, director Troy Duffy says he doesn't know and doesn't really care why the film resonates with so many people. Then he says it may be something to do with reaction to horrible crime stories in the news. Most people don't do anything with that, he says.
"But we all have that gut reaction," he said. "Gay, straight, male, female, black, white, conservative, liberal, doesn't matter. I believe every human being has that immediate vengeance for something disgusting."
The Troy Duffy sitting in the interview chair seems like a reasonable guy, if overly fond of the occasional expletive.
It's hard to believe that this is the man who became a poster boy for directorial excess.
"Sure, but Hollywood is never known as the bastion of good behavior," Duffy said.
The story, in a nutshell is this: When Duffy wrote his script for the original Boondocks film in the late '90s, he became a Hollywood hot property. The studios were looking for the next "Pulp Fiction."
He signed a deal with Miramax, but then things went bad. He fell out with the studio and lost the contract.
Then two friends who had been filming his story released "Overnight," a documentary which portrayed him as an egomaniacal bully. Duffy got "The Boondock Saints" made on a shoestring, but then couldn't get it distributed in the days following the Columbine shootings.
It got a few plays in some theaters on the East Coast and then went to DVD. That was the beginning of Troy Duffy's redemption.
"'Boondock' did what it was supposed to do," he said. "It made a lot of money, and continues to to this day."
The movie became a cult favorite with teenagers and 20-somethings attracted to the raw sensibilities of the Boondocks. Duffy adds that he's met fans of all ages.
There were some lean years for Duffy. He lived off the sales of Boondocks merchandise for a while, and he sued for a share of the revenues. He also began writing a sequel, and eventually economics won out.
"The studios are basically going, 'Well we have a misbehaving director on one side of the scale and $100 million on this side of the scale.' Which would you choose?" asked Duffy.
"Boondock Saints 2: All Saints Day" opens with the MacManus brothers, Connor and Murphy, living quietly in Ireland with their father. They hear about a murdered priest in Boston and learn they are the main suspects.
Their father thinks it's a ruse to get the Boondock Saints out of hiding and seeking vengeance.
"Only one problem with this little plan," he said. "It worked."
The brothers return to the U.S. and launch a campaign of bloody mayhem.
The film has opened over the last two weekends in some cities, and has been earning big money. "Boondock Saints 2" will expand to almost 20 screens in Minnesota.
Duffy points out this is the first time a sequel to a movie that was essentially released straight to DVD has had a theatrical release.
At a screening for Boondock fans at the Mall of America theaters this week, the crowd loved it.
"The action was good. They didn't disappoint us with the blood," said Audra Starkey from Minneapolis.
"It's just a really good movie. It just really grabs you, and makes you want to watch it." said her friend Hank McNeally.
"Anyone who's heard anything about Boondock Saints is going to come to this movie," said a young woman named Terressa.
"To those people who say gratuitous violence, go watch 'Princess and the Frog,'" said her friend Adam.
Duffy and actor Sean Patrick Flanery, who plays Connor MacManus, introduced the movie. They got standing ovations before and after. Flanery says he's ready for even more Boondock Saints.
"I would do 10 of these if we could," he said. "I'm not lying when I say this the most fun I have ever had making a movie, and the second most fun was Boondock 1."
Duffy says he's open to the idea, but first he wants to work on a completely different project, a script he wrote called "The Good King." He describes it as a black comedy set in the 15th century.
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