Archive for Vigilante

The Crow: Pestilence Issue 2 & 3 (2014) Comic Review

Posted in Crow Pestilence: Issue 2 & 3 with tags , , on May 9, 2014 by Last Road Reviews

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THE CROW PESTILENCE ISSUE 2

*** ½ Out of 5

Release Date- April 16th, 2014

Pages- 22

Despite some not overly glowing reviews I actually quite enjoyed the first issue of the new Crow series and while it may not have been great I thought it was a strong enough read. Here is issue 2 Salvador continues the hunt for the people who killed his family and this issue was a bit of a step back and while like issue 1, the review for this were mostly subpar, but I thought it was a good, but not great read. However there’s just something lacking here and even issue 1 had some problems. The problems I have with issue 2 is the writing was weak and at times it felt like the same dialogue over and over again. I gave it the passing grade, but I can see my score going lower on another reading.

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THE CROW PESTILENCE ISSUE 3

** ½ Out of 5

Release Date- May 7th, 2014

Pages- 22

Oh boy this time I fully agree with the poor reviews as issue 3 was quite weak. The main focus in this issue are the bad guys and I found them boring. The writing again here was quite subpar and I’m not sure if I like where all this is heading and at 3.99 a comic I’m not sure I really care to find out if its worth it. Odds are I’ll give the series another chance, but I see this being quite subpar, but than again I enjoyed issue 1 despite the flaws and even enjoyed issue 2 for the most part, but the decline started in issue 2 and continues here and something tells me it won’t get much better.

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Death Wish II (1982) Review

Posted in Death Wish II with tags , , , on March 18, 2014 by Last Road Reviews

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DEATH WISH II

**** Out of 5

Tagline- When Murder and Rape Invade Your Home and the Cops Can’t Stop It. This Man Will. His Way!

Release Date- February 20th, 1982

Running Time- 88-Minutes

Rating- R

Screenplay- David Engelbach

Director- Michael Winner

Starring- Charles Bronson, Jill Ireland, Vincent Gardenia, Ben Frank, Thomas F. Duffy

In 1974 when Death Wish was released it became a box office hit and launched the career of Charles Bronson who previously was mostly a supporting actor, but Death Wish made Bronson into a leading man. Besides making a star out of Bronson and also being the film debut of Jeff Goldblum, Death Wish became the holy grail of the vigilante film. Almost every vigilante film since the original Death Wish has pretty much followed its concept even if it was based on a book or movie that was released prior to Death Wish. 8-years after the original Death Wish II was released in 1982, which brings back Bronson as Paul Kersey who is now in Los Angeles rather than New York, but trouble always seems to find Kersey regardless of the city. Death Wish II is basically the same movie as the original only set in a different city and this time Kersey gets the people responsible for the assault of his daughter whereas in the original they were never found. Death Wish II is one of those remake kind of sequels since the structure for the two films are essentially the same. The only thing that keep this from being a complete rehash is as stated this time Kersey gets the bad guys. Outside of that Death Wish II is the same exact film. Death Wish can be seen as an exploitation film and really the only think keeping it from that is Paramount a major studio did the film, but Death Wish II plays up to the exploitation style a bit more and is even a little meaner in tone perhaps and some of the action scenes are a little bigger and a little more graphic to some degree. The original Death Wish is the better overall film, but Death Wish II in my opinion is the more fun to watch. Death Wish II may not go down as one of the all time great films and despite having the basic same structure as the original film Death Wish II is very much a crowd pleaser.

After having some success after Death Wish by this time in his career Charles Bronson was in need of a hit to show he can still carry a film as the star and director Michael Winner also struggled by this point with a lot of his films not making much noise. Michael Winner actually tried to get the directing job on Jaw, but was turned down several times and Winner rejected the Omen, which would end up going to Richard Donner. This was the first Death Wish film made by Cannon films and the first time Bronson would work with Cannon and he would become a regular for the company throughout the 80s and while a lot of the films Bronson made with Cannon may not have had the success of past Bronson films (excluding the Cannon Death Wish films) the 80s is probably the era many fans remember him from despite having bigger hits prior to the 80s and starring in such classics such as Once Upon a Time in the West.

Paul Kersey (Bronson) now living in Los Angeles is out with his girlfriend and his daughter Carol (Sherwood) who since the attack on her a few years back has become a mute. Kersey has his wallet stolen by a bunch of thugs and Kersey gets hold of one of them and roughs him up. The thugs show up at Kersey’s place where they rape and kill his housekeeper and when Kersey arrives home he’s attacked and his daughter abducted and raped. She’s killed while trying to escape and now Kersey walks the streets to find the thugs and deliver vigilante justice.

The screenplay was written by David Engelbach who in 1987 would write Over the Top also by Cannon Films and starred Sylvester Stallone. The script by Engelbach is basically a rewrite of the first film and can be seen as a remake in form of a sequel. Characters are mostly copies of the original and even the thugs are pretty much the same to some degree only difference is here they play a little bigger part. In the original the more Kersey killed the easier it got and that transition continues here as there’s no more inner struggle. Even before he kills one of the bad guys, Kersey has a witty one liner. The writing isn’t exactly great as its hindered by being too much a copy of the original, but with that said the script is highly entertaining and fun. The one area I would like to have seen explored more is the relationship between detective Ochoa (Gardenia) and Kersey. Ochoa is sent to L.A. to see if its the same vigilante from New York and in one scene during a shootout between Kersey and the bad guys, Ochoa assists Kersey and when asked, Ochoa says it was either you or them. I always found that kinda interesting as it shows Ochoa in someways understands why Kersey is doing what he is and doesn’t seem as a bad guy. While I suppose by going into too much detail would take away from what fans wanna see and that’s Kersey killing thugs, but it was still an interesting angle Death Wish II could have taken.

Director Michael Winner follows the structure of the original, but the tone here is a little more sleazy and exploitive and Death Wish II also kind of has a fun tone despite the subject matter. The original had a darker tone even if Bronson’s actions were crows pleasing, but this one seems to have that feel throughout at least to me despite being a little sleazier.The action scenes are a little bigger in spots and spread out nicely, which keeps Death Wish II running at a smooth pace for its brief 88-minute running time. The attack on the housekeeper despite being edited to obtain the R is still rather sadistic and trumps the attack scene in the original and the attack on Kersey’s daughter despite also being heavily edited is still quite disturbing. These scenes have come under fire by critics, but they didn’t phase Michael Winner at all. This isn’t great filmmaking on display, but Michael Winner knows what his audience wants and doesn’t let us down.

Death Wish II is mostly the exact film as the original and while it isn’t nearly as good I would say its more enjoyable. Bronson is terrific, but clearly going through the motions. Though i will say Robin Sherwood as Carol Kersey is the standout. despite having no dialogue and a minor role she actually brings a lot to the film. The score was done by Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page and he got a Razzie nomination, but the Razzies are a bigger joke than the Oscars. I for one loved the score by Jimmy Page. Regardless of any flaws Death Wish II is highly enjoyable and you can just sit back and cheer on the actions of Charles Bronson.

Death Wish II actually has a terrific cast of notable actors and while some you may not know by name, but you will by face Ben Frank (Don’t Answer the Phone), Anthony Franciosa (Tenebre), Robert F. Lyons (Dark Night of the Scarecrow), J.D. Cannon (McCloud) and of course Jill Ireland the real life wife of Bronson and also in the cast is Charles Cyphers best known for his work on such John Carpenter films as Halloween and the Fog and perhaps the most notable face is Laurence Fishburne as Cutter one of the thugs Kersey is after. Thomas F. Duffy who played Nirvana would guest star on several TV shows as well as having a role in The Lost World: Jurassic Park, which also starred Jeff Goldblum and Kevyn Major Howard who played Stomper, the following year would appear in the Dirty Harry film Sudden Impact and would also appear in Full Metal Jacket.

Death Wish II was released on blu-ray by FOX and like many of the MGM titles released on blu-ray by FOX they all seem to look exactly a like so if you’ve seen past releases you’ll know what to expect. The HD presentation while not demo worthy is actually quite strong and made even stronger when compared to the old DVD, which was quite horrendous. If you never saw the DVD before the video on the blu-ray will be good, but nothing great for those like myself who had seen this on DVD the blu-ray is terrific as at times the DVD was so poor it almost looked like it was shot on video in a few scenes. This is the edited R-rated version, which is quite annoying seeing as apparently when aired on MGMHD its uncut and when I watched this on Netflix it was the uncut version so its not like the footage is lost or anything. The uncut footage does add a meaner spirit to Death Wish II and while I still love the film even edited as the cut version still packs a punch its quite frustrating though that FOX didn’t include it. I just don’t understand since its been aired uncut why in this day and age FOX wouldn’t deliver an uncut version. Rant aside, the audio isn’t anything spectacular, but good enough and the only feature is a trailer. Despite my issues Death Wish II, is a strong release in terms of audio and video made even stronger when compared to the DVD. This won’t be among your favorite releases, but flaws and all its a worthy upgrade.

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Death Sentence (1975 Novel)

Posted in Death Sentence (Novel) with tags , , on July 12, 2013 by Last Road Reviews

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DEATH SENTENCE NOVEL

*** ½ Out of 5

Release Date- 1975

Written by- Brian Garfield

Picking up after Death Wish, Paul Benjamin is now living in Chicago and is continuing is one man war on street crime.

Death Sentence has more action than Death Wish, but at times it left be feeling cold as through a lot of the book there is no real story it’s just Paul killing thugs, but the 2nd half is when the book begins to take a deeper meaning.

Death Sentence does pose the question on would vigilante justice lead to more crime? When would it go from wanting to do the right thing to murder? And where does it end? Will a simple dispute lead to murder? Vigilante justice is a complicated thing; while the law should handle crime, but what about if there is nothing the law could do? So in that aspect I kinda agree with vigilante justice, but soon enough someone accused of a crime would be killed and being accused doesn’t make you guilty. It would also lead to people killing each other because they didn’t like the way someone looked at them or a parking dispute and while these things happen odds are it would become more common. But even with that said I don’t fully disagree with vigilante justice, but Brian Garfield does raise some good points.

While reading Death Sentence and Death Wish for that matter it’s hard to disagree with vigilante justice even if that wasn’t the intentions of Brian Garfield. The justice system is flawed and sometimes fails us. How many times have you picked up a newspaper or turned on the news and someone is arrested for a violent crime that had a long rap sheet? In cases like that its hard to argue against it, but violence just leads to more violence. Like in the book civilians begin to arm themselves and one incident gets a bakery owner and some of his workers killed because he wanted to be like the vigilante and with vigilante justice that’s exactly what would happen as people would think they’re Dirty Harry.

There is a subplot of a 2nd vigilante however he isn’t as careful as Paul and an innocent person gets killed in the crossfire and if people took the law into their own hands this would happen for sure. I really loved the themes in Death Sentence, but the novel as a whole never worked as well as it had the potential to. Despite my problems it was still an enjoyable read for the most part. Like the original, pacing can be an issue, but the book works on a deeper and more powerful level only hindered by the pacing.

In 2007 this novel was adapted for the screen starring Kevin Bacon. However outside of the title the film is nothing like the book outside of a vigilante and one has to wonder why bother paying royalty rights even you aren’t gonna use any plots from the book.

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Death Wish (1972 Novel)

Posted in Death Wish Novel with tags , , , on July 11, 2013 by Last Road Reviews

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DEATH WISH NOVEL

**** Out of 5

Written by- Brian Garfield

Release Date- 1972

When most people think of Death Wish the first thought that comes to mind is Charles Bronson killing various thugs, but before the film there was the 1972 novel written by Brian Garfield. More often than not the book is normally better than the film, but not in all cases and in regards to Death Wish I think it’s sort of a tie; there are certain aspects of the novel that are better than the film, but there are also things better about the film.

Before I get into all that I’ll touch upon some of the differences. For starters in the book the main character’s name is Paul Benjamin whereas in the film it’s Paul Kersey. Also in the novel Paul is an accountant whereas in the film he’s an architect. He’s also described as balding a little and a bit overweight, which wasn’t the case with Charles Bronson. In the novel Paul’s wife’s name is Esther whereas in the film it’s Joanna. Right there are the biggest differences between the two. The relationship between Paul and his wife are also different. Like the film, Paul’s wife doesn’t really play a huge part, but in the film it’s a loving relationship. In the novel they care about each other and there is love, but they are together more so than being alone. But they do care for one another, but the relationship is different than what we briefly see in the film.

I really wasn’t sure what to expect from the novel and in all honesty it was better than I expected, but there are some pacing issues. There are too many pages of Paul at work, which quite frankly aren’t all that interesting. These pages often slow the pacing down a little too much. There is also a long chapter of Paul out in Arizona, which also really zaps the pace of the book. I also felt that way about the film as well. Jainchill unlike the film is only mentioned here and Paul gets a gun on his own rather than from Jainchill. I understand the need of these pages in regards to setting up the change in Paul and also an attempt at a normal life, but in my personal opinion some of these pages could have been edited.

Now for where the book really succeeds and where it’s better than the film is we are able to get into Paul’s thoughts. Everywhere he goes he sees people differently. He wonders if they’re criminals; he sees a black man standing outside and wonders if he was one of the attackers on his wife and daughter. Paul gets very paranoid and everywhere he goes he has a fear of being attacked and like I said everyone he sees in his mind is a potential criminal. I just simply love these pages as it really sets up the change from regular guy to vigilante and really gets the reader into the mind of a man breaking down due to the attack on his family, his paranoia and fear.

When Paul ends up becoming a vigilante he doesn’t enjoy the killing and seems detached from it. Whereas in the film Paul seems to enjoy his role of vigilante. While the film wasn’t overly graphic, most of the shootings in the book are quick and to the point. Really only 2 were more detailed. Like the film, Paul does go around looking for thugs and even rents a car to use as bait (this was seen in Death Wish 3 where Paul buys a car to use as bait, though no idea if Death Wish 3 got that from the book). The police investigation plays a part, but it was a little more used in the film. Ochoa the cop assigned to the case plays a very minor role in the book.

The ending of the film was a bit absurd how the cops let him go. While public sympathy would be in Paul’s corner an arrest would still be made but I can buy into the idea. The book ending to me was its biggest flaw. It just sort of ends. There was no real closure and it almost seems as if Brian Garfield went over his word limit. While not terrible it just sort of ends with no real closure

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Death Wish 4: The Crackdown (1987) Review

Posted in Death Wish 4 with tags , , , , on May 21, 2013 by Last Road Reviews

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DEATH WISH 4: THE CRACKDOWN

*** ½ Out of 5

Tagline- The Vigilante is Back with a Vengeance

Release Date- November 6th, 1987

Running Time- 99-Minutes

Rating- R

Screenplay- Gail Morgan Hickman

Director- J. Lee Thompson

Starring- Charles Bronson, Kay Lenz, John P. Ryan, Perry Lopez, George Dickerson, Soon-Tech Oh, Dana Barron

The original Death Wish is the holy grail of the vigilante flick and in my opinion the best vigilante flick hands down. At the time Charles Bronson was 54 and that was the movie that launched him from supporting actor to lead. The 2nd Death Wish was pretty much a rehash of the original, but still a very good film. Both films may not be the most realistic, but I think they can actually happen. They were excellent crime/dramas of a man pushed too far, but once we got to the 3rd movie they became action flicks and Bronson’s character Paul Kersey sort of became a superhero going up against people half his age and he also had a whole arsenal of weapons. Death Wish 4 however not only is Kersey a superhero, but he channels his inner James Bond as he now seems to have skills of a spy with tapping phones and going undercover!

After destroying Brooklyn in Death Wish 3 the 4th film returns to Los Angeles also the setting of the 2nd movie. Perhaps the makers of the movies aren’t aware, but the US has other places besides New York and L.A. the 1st, 3rd and 5th were set in NY with again 2 & 4 being is L.A. so here we are back in Los Angeles and Paul Kersey (Bronson) is attempting to live a normal life as he’s in a relationship with Karen (Lenz) who has a teenage daughter Erica (Barron) and Paul cares deeply for both and hey this is a Death Wish movie so the fate of both characters shouldn’t be a shocker. After Erica dies from an OD, Paul reverts back to his vigilante ways, while Karen who works for a newspaper tries to gather information for an article she wants to write about the dangers of drugs. In Kersey’s quest for revenge he meets Nathan White (Ryan) who gives Kersey the weapons and info he needs to destroy the drug cartels overrunning L.A., but Nathan White may not be who he seems to be and soon Kersey is on his own sets out for another deadly showdown.

There were some changes made to the series with Death Wish 4 starting with the change of director. Michael Winner who of course directed the first 3 movies is out and J. Lee Thompson who by this time was mostly working for Cannon Films steps into the director’s chair and the classic score used in past films is pretty much gone and if I’m being totally honest this really doesn’t feel like a Death Wish movie and I’m not sure it needed to be there are mentions of the first 2 (nothing said about 3) and I guess as its own film it might be a little too much like Death Wish, and I guess the name of the series helps box office numbers and again even with eliminating mentions of past films it still would be too much a like despite how different this film was to the past 3.

The screenplay written by Gail Morgan Hickman whose other credits include Murphy’s Law (also starring Bronson and directed by J. Lee Thompson) and is credited for the story on the Eastwood Dirty Harry classic the Enforcer. Whereas the first 2 films were mostly crime/dramas starting with the 3rd they became more action driven, but 3 still retains many elements of the first 2, but seems to be a more satirical take on them, but Hickman writes Death Wish 4 as an action movie and no longer does Kersey hide in the shadows, here he strikes whenever he can and walks away out in the open. The screenplay has some touches of social commentary as it tackles the dangers of drug use and deals with teen drug use in particular, but if you’re looking for a deep screenplay, Death Wish 4 isn’t one of them. The opening scene was quite interesting as it starts off in a parking garage where 3 masked men attack a woman and Kersey shows up and kills all three, but when he looks down at one of the victims he sees himself and is in shock. Of course this is all a dream, but this idea never goes anywhere and I’m not sure what the point of it was since again it’s never brought up. It was an interesting idea I suppose to get into Kersey’s head, but this scene could easily be removed and nothing would be missing. The script works on the camp factor and while the script does differ than the past 3 and as I said this could have worked as its own film, but really by this point there wasn’t much left to do except have Bronson go around killing bad guys. The script is fun though, but does take itself a little too serious at times and I’m not entirely sure some of the silly dialogue was always intentional. Overall the script isn’t really anything special though some interesting ideas were presented, but never go anywhere; the script simply is just about Kersey killing bad guys and its quite easy to forget why he’s even after this drug cartel and Kay Lenz who plays a vital role early in the film is gone though the middle shows up again in the final act and its easy to forget she’s in the film.

At one point J. Lee Thompson was an acclaimed director, but by this point in his career he was making silly action flicks that really didn’t showcase his talents, but these films did work on the fun factor. With the change of director comes a change in tone and while J. Lee Thompson has made some solid films, Death Wish 4 is far inferior to the previous 3. Michael Winner may not be a great filmmaker, but with the first 3 Death Wish films he did a great job with the original film being the holy grail of the vigilante film. The pacing for Death Wish 4 can be sluggish in spots, but for the most part there enough action and silly moments to keep the film entertaining. Death Wish 4 feels more like your run of the mill low budget 80s action film rather than a Death Wish film, but Thompson still crafts a fun and over the top film.

Charles Bronson is great as Paul Kersey and despite nearing 70 at the time I personally never found it difficult to except Bronson going around taking out people half his age. Death Wish 4 is just a showcase for Bronson to go around killing thugs and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Like I said before Kersey never really hides in the shadows, his escapes are in plain sight and he also doesn’t attempt to conceal himself at all either and even takes care of business during the daytime in an oil field. With his spy techniques and arsenal of weapons it is a bit over the top and it worked better in part 3 due to the satirical nature of the film (or at least I saw the film as more of a satire).

Of all 5 Death Wish films I would rate this or 5 as the weakest, but even a weak Death Wish film is still great fun. Overall Death Wish 4 is an entertaining film that at times attempts to be a little deeper, but quickly moves away from that in favor of action sequences. If you liked the previous 3 odds are you’ll enjoy this one as well.

Death Wish 4 also boasts a solid cast of character actors and cult favorite Danny Trejo appears in a couple of brief scenes one where he meets an exploding end!

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Exterminator 2 (1984) Review

Posted in Exterminator 2 with tags , , , , on April 9, 2013 by Last Road Reviews

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THE EXTERMINATOR 2

*** ½ Out of 5

Tagline- In the Exterminator He Made the Streets of New York Safe. All Has Been Quiet Until Now.

Release Date- September 14th, 1984

Running Time- 89-Minutes

Rating- R

Screenplay- Mark Buntzman & William Sachs

Director- Mark Buntzman

Starring- Robert Ginty, Frankie Faison, Deborah Geffner and Mario Van Peebles as X

Released in 1984, Exterminator 2 for the most part a sequel by name only as it has very little to do with the original and outside of a passing mention on a news report, there is no connection between the two films with the exception of Robert Ginty as John Eastland. At the end of the Exterminator, the police knew Eastland’s identity and the political corruption plot the Government also knew his identity so the fact Eastland is walking the streets of NY makes this in general a sequel by name only. Writer/director Mark Buntzman was a producer of the original film so I’m a little surprised there wasn’t more of a connection. The 80s were a great time for cinema as Hollywood put out quality films and not mindless junk and the B-Movie was thriving perhaps more than ever thanks to cable TV and home video. Exterminator 2 is very much a product of its time and while its not the best B-action movie it is however entertaining enough that should please fans of cult cinema. Despite the cult following of the original film it isn’t as well known as it should be and despite a couple of pacing issues it was an excellent film and while the sequel doesn’t quite measure up as I stated Exterminator 2 does provide a fun viewing.

The original film was an excellent gritty low budget exploitation flick that has held up very well over the years. Obviously certain aspects of the filmmaking techniques might be a little dated as with each generation comes a new style. But the story remains relevant and if made today there wouldn’t be any real changes made and as long as their is crime and injustice the Exterminator will always be relevant. Instead of making a gritty exploitation film, Exterminator 2 opts for the standard 80s action flick and while I suppose one can label this an exploitation film its very different in tone from the original. This was made by Cannon films and if you’re a fan like I am you should know what to expect here.

The screenplay by Mark Buntzman is kind of the standard 80s action film of the time. I don’t think anyone goes into this expecting great writing, but gone is the strong social message of the original. Even in the original film Eastland is kind of a mystery; while we understand why he seeks revenge on the gang who attacked his friend it wasn’t explained why now he had enough of the crime in NY and while I suppose its fairly obvious I still think there was a missed chance at getting deeper into Eastland’s psyche. Here Buntzman with Exterminator 2 never really develops Eastland much and if anything he’s just sort of there. However in the original film we see he hasn’t fully gotten over his time in Vietnam and outside of his one friend he’s very much a loner with a tragic sadness. Here he’s still sort of a loner despite having a close friend and a girlfriend, but at times he also seems happier and it was a nice touch showing that other side of John Eastland. Unlike the first film where Eastland sets his sights on a few different targets, in Exterminator 2 throughout the film he’s only after the gang led by X only in the 2nd half it gets more personal. I liked the fact in the original he had different targets and it even to this day makes the Exterminator standout from other vigilante films, but here Eastland has one target and the film is a little more standard due to that.

As director Mark Buntzman delivers a fun film, but not without some pacing issues. The writing wasn’t strong enough to carry the film during the lulls in action and unlike the original, Buntzman never really establishes much of a tone. The action sequences are entertaining though they do repeat themselves at times. But there are some really fun action scenes and while the pacing is an issue at times, Buntzman also delivers a really fun film. While this film might be a little more graphic than the original the violence doesn’t have that gritty feel to them, but I suppose they weren’t meant to. Overall despite some pacing issues and some scenes being a little a like, Mark Buntzman does deliver the goods and fans of the original should be entertained. The only real letdown is the final act is a bit anti-climatic, but while this is by no means a great film Mark Buntzman crafts a highly entertaining flick.

Robert Ginty as John Eastland is excellent. He’s not the greatest actor though he isn’t bad either, but he’s not the most charismatic actor, which I think works in his favor since it makes him feel more real if that makes any sense. Rest of the cast is solid and Mario Van Peebles is a blast to watch as X.

Overall Exterminator 2 is a highly entertaining film and while it doesn’t match the original film its still a fun action packed exploitation film. Co-writer William Sachs also shot some additional footage though I have no idea what he shot, but the film does flow well and doesn’t seem like 2 filmmakers were involved. Little bit of extra trivia the news report in the beginning says the media dubbed Eastland as the Exterminator, but that’s incorrect as Eastland named himself that.

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The Exterminator (1980) Review

Posted in Exterminator with tags , , , , , , on April 7, 2013 by Last Road Reviews

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THE EXTERMINATOR

*** ½ Out of 5

Tagline- The Man They Pushed Too Far

Release Date- September 19th, 1980

Running Time- 101-Minutes

Rating- R

Writer/Director- James Glickenhaus

Starring- Christopher George, Samantha Eggar, Steve James and Robert Ginty

Released in 1980 this exploitation vigilante movie has all the right ideas, but the execution though is slightly off at times. After an attack on that leaves his best friend paralyzed John Eastland (Ginty) gets revenge on those responsible, but then begins to clean up the streets vigilante style.

The screenplay by James Glickenhaus is solid and the random acts of vigilante justice while justified suffers from no explanation on why suddenly John has had enough of the crime in NY. While one can make sense out of his attack on the gang the rest of his actions don’t really make sense. There is also a subplot dealing with political corruption and while this could have been an interesting angle it seems as more of a filler and in the end seems rather pointless. If anything the script has a number of plot devices and any of these could have worked as the main plot as Eastland besides the gang also targets a mob boss and pedophile, which in some ways can hinder the script, but in other ways elevates it over many other vigilante films. Unlike many vigilante films there is no inner struggle on Eastland’s decision to clean up the streets and even after his first act of vengeance there is no regret. Regardless of some flaws James Glickenhaus delivers an excellent screenplay that is socially relevant to this day and despite any problems I may have had, the Exterminator is well written.

As director James Glickenhaus delivers a solid film that even decades later holds up as a powerful film. The pacing is for the most part strong, but there are some scenes where the pacing can lag. The action scenes are violent and well crafted and Glickenhaus delivers an excellent gritty film that packs a punch and is one of my favorite exploitation and vigilante films.

Michael Ginty is excellent as the vigilante and he seems to be a bit off his rocker and while more could have been done with the character Ginty does well in the role and Christopher George is a bit under used as Detective Dalton, but his scenes can also at times bring about some pacing issues, but George is always a joy to watch and he’s such a great actor that even if his scenes at time can slow things down I’m still glad he’s part of the film.

Overall The Exterminator is an excellent film that rather than focus on one plot uses a couple and while it may not always be perfect due to that, but it does help the film standout and while many have compared this to Death Wish, the Exterminator is actually quite different. Despite both being vigilante films set in New York, Exterminator has been unfairly labeled a knockoff. Overall its not a perfect film and like I said as well paced as the film is there are some sluggish moments, but for the most part it’s an excellent and gritty film with great action scenes.

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