Watch The Hire: 8 Short Films Shot for BMW by John Woo, Ang Lee & Other Popular Filmmakers (2002)

If there’s ever a Mad Men: The Next Gen­er­a­tion, count on a 40-ish Sal­ly Drap­er to psych a con­fer­ence room full of BMW execs out of the tried-and-true for­mu­la for lux­u­ry auto­mo­bile ads in favor of a ground­break­ing, night­mar­ish, pre-YouTube web series.

As fic­tion­al sce­nar­ios go, it’s about as like­ly as hav­ing the Hard­est Work­ing Man in Show Busi­ness James Brown place a win­ner-take-all bet with the dev­il (Gary Old­man) that his dri­ver Clive Owen can out-drag peren­ni­al movie bad guy Dan­ny Tre­jo. (In oth­er words, very like­ly.)

The prize?

Anoth­er 50 years of hip-shak­ing, leg-split­ting soul for the God­fa­ther of.

Can’t wait for the soon-to-be released James Brown biopic to find out who wins?

Check out “Beat the Dev­il,” above, the final install­ment of BMW Films’ 8‑episode series, The Hire. One of the new mil­len­ni­um’s ear­li­est exam­ples of brand­ed con­tent, each fre­net­ic seg­ment found Owen’s name­less dri­ver going up against a ros­ter of big name guest stars, includ­ing Don Chea­dle, Mick­ey Rourke, Mar­i­lyn Man­son, and an uncred­it­ed, pee-soaked Madon­na. (You heard me.)

Brown’s episode, direct­ed by the late Tony Scott, quick­ly ven­tures into David Lynch ter­ri­to­ry. Old­man’s Prince of Dark­ness gets laughs with a prop flu­o­res­cent tube and striped sus­pender tights, but the scene’s not with­out men­ace. (Recall Dean Stock­well lip-synch­ing Can­dy Col­ored Clown in Blue Vel­vet…)

The dia­logue calls to mind Jim Jar­musch’s blunt snap.

Dev­il: Stick your face in the hole!

James Brown: My face?

Dev­il: Stick it in the hole!

James Brown: My face?

Dev­il: Face in the hole!

James Brown: My face?

Dev­il: Face in the- oh, shit!”

Else­where, Brown’s line deliv­ery gets a boost from same-lan­guage sub­ti­tles, with­out which one could eas­i­ly mis­hear his con­cerns about aging as an unex­pect­ed, late-in-life racial iden­ti­fi­ca­tion switch. (Say it loud, I’m Asian and proud?)

If the clip above leaves you hun­gry for more, the com­plete BMW series, fea­tur­ing the testos­terone-rich work of such high octane direc­tors as John Franken­heimer, Guy Ritchie, and John Woo is avail­able on the playlist below. 

You can find The Hire added to our col­lec­tion, 4,000+ Free Movies Online: Great Clas­sics, Indies, Noir, West­erns, Doc­u­men­taries & More.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Rid­ley Scott Talks About Mak­ing Apple’s Land­mark “1984″ Com­mer­cial, Aired 30 Years Ago on Super Bowl Sun­day

David Lynch’s Per­fume Ads Based on the Works of Hem­ing­way, F. Scott Fitzger­ald & D.H. Lawrence

The Coen Broth­ers Make a TV Com­mer­cial — Ridi­cul­ing “Clean Coal”

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, home­school­er and the Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of The East Vil­lage Inky zine. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday

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