AUGUST 5 VHS MOVIE REVIEW : AMERICAN JUSTICE
''AMERICAN JUSTICE,'' which opens today at the U.A. Twin and other theaters, is another movie with the plot and style of a third-rate television show. It has a standard, predictable plot, no surprises, stock villains played in the broadest of cliche styles, lots of tight head shots and, to liven things up, the usual barrage of butchery and blood.
It's the story of Mexican immigrants in a border town who are exploited by - surprise, surprise - the local sheriff and one of his two deputies, a vicious, mean-spirited fellow named Jake. Jake and his gang meet groups of illegal immigrants as they sneak across the border and force the women into a prostitution ring through which the gang gets rich and the women get used up.
Jake shoots one young woman who is running away, but the scene is witnessed by Joe, a former policeman who is visiting his friend Dave, the town's second deputy. The two were partners when both were cops in California.
Although Dave is honest, he's not the most trusting of friends - it takes him half the movie to believe what his buddy tells him about Jake's perfidy. Finally he gets the picture, and the two march off to kill the bad guys and, incidentally, save the Mexicans.
It's an utterly vacuous story executed in a completely mundane manner. The heroes are innocuous. Dave and his wife, Jess, look and act like Ken and Barbie dolls. Jake is groaningly hollow and unoriginal. You could close your eyes and substitute any villain from any grade B film and no one would notice.
Actually, closing your eyes is not a bad idea. GOOD COP-BAD COP - AMERICAN JUSTICE, directed by Gary
Grillo; screenplay by Dennis A. Pratt; director of photography, Steve Yaconelli; edited by Steve Mirkovich; music by Paul Chihara; produced by Jack Lucarelli and Jameson Parker; released by the Movie Store. At the U.A. Twin, Broadway and 49th Street; the U.A. East, 85th Street at First Avenue, and other theaters. Running time: 95 minutes. This film is rated R. Joe Case...Jack Lucarelli; Dave Buchanon...Jameson Parker; Jake Wheeler...Gerald McRaney; Sheriff Mitchell...Wilford Brimley; Jess Buchanon...Jeannie Wilson.
AUGUST 5 VHS MOVIE REVIEW : DEATH WISH 4 : THE CRACKDOWN
DEATH WISH 4: THE CRACKDOWN
A Film Review
Copyright Dragan Antulov 1998
In the first DEATH WISH movie, mild-mannered New York architect Paul Kersey, played by Charles Bronson, was avenging the death of his wife. In the second, he was avenging his daughter. In the third, he instigated small war in order to avenge the old friend. Fourth movie, on the other hand, begins with Kersey doubting the point of his violent crusades and living the quiet life with his girlfriend Karen, played by Kay Lenz. However, since this is DEATH WISH MOVIE, we know that sooner or later something bad is going to happen to the people Kersey cares for. This time Karen's teenage daughter dies of a crack overdose and Kersey is forced to return to his old vigilante ways. Kersey's new targets, unlike the previous movies, aren't the ordinary street punks but rich, heavily armed and well-connected drug dealers. Even such unstoppable killing machine like Kersey needs some support, and it comes from the publisher Nathan White (John P. Ryan), determined to avenge the drug-related death of his own daughter. White's plan is to make Kersey kill major players in two rival drug dealing organisations and thus instigate the war between them. The plan begins to take shape, but Kersey's actions bring attention of two police detectives - Reiner (George Dickerson) and Nozaki (Soon Teck-Oh).
Fourth (and, unfortunately, not the final) installment in the DEATH WISH series, will probably remembered as the typical movie of Cannon Group, production company responsible for some of the worst cinematic trash of the last decade. However, although some critics might argue, DEATH WISH 4: THE CRACKDOWN represents slight improvement over the DEATH WISH 3. Paul Kersey, one of the most intriguing (and potentially controversial) characters of the 1970s, is still being dumbed down by mediocre script, and Charles Bronson really doesn't feel the need to put much effort in his acting. However, the hand of a veteran director J. Lee Thompson seems more capable of Michael Winner's and the action scenes seem slightly less surreal, although they still look cheap and repetitive and downright boring. There are some attempts for the movie to have a plot between the numerous scenes of violence, and one of such attempts is a potentially interesting plot twist at the end. The script even tries to fake some social conscience (through criminally underused Kay Lenz's character) and predates the War on Drugs campaign that would inspire many Hollywood products in next few years. There are even some half-hearted attempts of humour - both intentional and unintentional, like in a scene where Kersey assassinates mob figures by a wine bottle - but the quality of this movie is still far away from Bronson's 1970s classics.
(Special note to x-philes: Mith Pilleggi, the actor who plays AD Skinner in THE X- FILES, could be seen in a small role of cannery lab foreman).
RATING: 4/10 (+)