Sunday, June 5, 2011
Part 2 doesn't continue where part 1 left off. They just decided to make another EXTERMINATOR movie for no reason except to make money. The overall impression I get from this movie is that it was a rushed project. Judging by the quick pace with almost no build up of the drama I would have to say that they took a first draft script and rolled with it. The story is a mess cut together poorly and held together with bubble gum. Often I wonder as I am watching this movie if they completely rearranged the scenes during editing to get to the more actiony stuff. The story arch of the Exterminator doesn't make sense.
So John Eastland is back alone in his apartment listening to the police scanner. A liquor store is being robbed. Eastland puts on a blowtorch for some reason and goes out and fries the bad guys. Automatically the news reports that the Exterminator is back even though there is no way of knowing that. Nobody knew who he was originally and he didn't run around with a blowtorch and welding mask in the original. Apparently Eastland hasn't been out doing his vigilante thing for awhile. He just decided to start up again just because it would make for a great intro for our movie. THEN(!) he starts dating a dancer. Why would he do that if he has started killing bad guys again? Wouldn't that interfere with his sex life. Then he meets an old friend who drives a garbage truck who gives him a job as a garbage man. His old friend tried to stop a gang from robbing an armored truck earlier so now they think Eastland is the guy they are after. His friend asks him where he is going and Eastland responds "I don't know". That means that he is a drifter with no job. He is kind of like Bill Bixby from the HULK show. But that doesn't make sense. He just got a girlfriend and he has an apartment. He has some kind of roots. He is only wandering around because the script doesn't know what to do with his character or how to get the story rolling. This is where I start to wonder about the arrangement of scenes in this film. Maybe originally the opening to this movie is a bunch of scenes where Eastland decides to quit killing and start a real life but then like in DEATH WISH part 1,2,3,4,5 it all goes south. I guess the makers (who I assume were all a bunch of teenagers high on violent cinema) got bored and decided to skip all the story parts and just focus on the killing parts. Even those suck.
The bad guys in this movie are a gang of punks led by some jerk that calls himself X. What a dork. He is played by Mario Van Peebles which only compounds the dorkiness even more. I am not a fan. The gang basically shows up and ruins Eastland's life by murdering his girlfriend (after first paralyzing her. She was going to be a dancer. How tragic. Now excuse me while I go hang myself.) and then killing his old friend the garbage man when they break up the gangs drug deal. Then Eastland rigs the garbage truck with armor, rockets and machine guns and kills all the gang members in a rushed boring finale. Its anticlimactic as hell.
This movie suffers from HIGHLANDER-itis. HIGHLANDER considers Duncan Mcleod a badass by the cool sword he has. The Nerd-os love swords. EXTERMINATOR part 2 defines the badassness of Eastland by his blowtorch. Having a blowtorch looks cool so Eastland is cool. Whoever made EXTERMINATOR part 2 based the character on the cover of the first movie and not the actual character in the movie. The makers did not understand what made the original so good. Part 2 doesn't give motivation as to why Eastland decides to start his vigilante life again. The movie doesn't give a reason as to why Eastland has settled on using the impractical blowtorch. Why not use a gun. Its easier and doesn't weigh as much. Oh, I forgot it doesn't look as cool. Apparently Eastland is a G.I. Joe. This movie is just an excuse to show a few guys get lit on fire by a blowtorch. That's it. The action in this movie is so weak. Nothing is memorable. The villains get set on fire or get shot and blown up. None of it is extraordinary. And since the movie does such a piss poor job of setting up the story there is no emotional attachment to these characters to give a damn whether or not they live.
Talk about false advertising. THE EXTERMINATOR part 2 poster is the greatest poster ever made. Too bad this is one of the worst action vigilante movies ever made. It was made in the eighties so you are going to see alot of weird eighties dancing, weird eighties clothing, weird eighties break dancing, and roller skating gang members. How intimidating. I was kind of hoping that kid that was break dancing in the Michael Jackson Pepsi commercial but later broke his neck spinning on his neck was in this movie but he wasn't. I would at least give the movie one star. But then again I would have to take away that star for the embarrassingly bad and hard to watch sex scene featuring a Robert Ginty looking like it was his first time. I never want to see that again. Now if you will excuse me I need to go out and hang myself again. Don't worry, folks. I won't stay dead. I always return in the sequel.
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
John Eastland is played by Robert Ginty. Ginty is not the greatest actor but in this movie he is excellent. He fits the role perfectly. Ginty isn't a tough looking dude with large muscles and squinty mean eyes. He is just an average Joe. That's kind of the point. This movie, like DEATH WISH, is about the everyday man going out and using violence against the corrupt to make a difference and to feel better about themselves. The big difference between the two is of course DEATH WISH stars Charles Bronson who was already a big time actor best known for his tough guy punching people in the face roles. Even though he is portraying the average man he is still CHARLES FREAKIN BRONSON BADASS EXTRAORDINAIRE. Everyone knows who Charles Bronson is. Robert Ginty doesn't even know who Robert Ginty is. Casting Ginty makes the film seem more since authentic when trying to portray a citizen standing up to take a bite out of crime. DEATH WISH though is a little more realistic. THE EXTERMINATOR balances a realistic (I'm just joking) character study with some shoddy action movie moments. At the beginning when Eastland is captured in Vietnam you see a bunch of random explosions everywhere including on the sides of cliffs for some reason and army dudes firing their guns all over the place without much reason except to make it look like a big action scene. There are helicopters and people set on fire and so on. Oh, and lets not forget about that guy that gets his head cut off. All I am saying is that they paid him extra to cut off his head. Later on this thug is shot and goes flying backwards in the air. He doesn't just fall down like in real life.
This is a smarter movie than you would think. My favorite thing about this movie is how his experiences in Vietnam shaped the way Eastland exacts his revenge. He sees a guy executed in a river by a fellow soldier. Later Eastland has the head of the gang that hurt his friend tied up in a basement. He shoots the gang member in the head too. A Viet Cong soldier is set on fire by a blowtorch so Eastland uses a blowtorch to scare a thug into talking. Watching Eastland's progression from regular guy into a cold badass is one of the best things about this film. It is Eastland who kills his paralyzed friend who is hooked up to life support unable to communicate except with his eyes. His friend gives him permission to cut the cord to his breather. Then as Eastland is leaving he gets in a elevator and spots this detective that has been tracking him the whole movie. Before the doors close and Eastland escapes he cracks a smart ass remark about the detectives zipper being down. Eastland just mercy killed his friend and he is making a joke. Despite all the killing Eastland has done it is this one moment when you realize what a different kind of person he is from the beginning. He is still a good guy but death has no impact on him at all. Good stuff.
If I had to make a list of the 10 best Grindhouse films like the Nerd-os out there like to do then I would have to say that THE EXTERMINATOR is my #1. The movie is very colorful. It has a few very noticeable film flubs. It captures Times Square as the Mecca for porn theaters and super cheap street hookers it was back in the seventies before Giulianni took over. People nowadays wouldn't even recognize it. Which is sad because NIGHT COURT doesn't make much sense now since New York has classed up a bit. THE EXTERMINATOR doesn't have a real ending which fits into the Grindhouse anything can happen formula. These politicians ultimately try to kill Eastland at the end but only kill the detective. Eastland is shot but he was wearing a bulletproof vest. He falls into the ocean and is presumed dead. As he emerges from the water the credits roll and you are like "No, there is still more movie to go". But there isn't. There is a sequel but the less said about that the better. The sequel doesn't continue the story whatsoever. Its a huge disappointment but more on that later.................probably.
I was always curious about THE EXTERMINATOR. In my younger days when video rental stores existed I saw the cover of this movie every single time I browsed the aisles looking for a movie to rent. Never once did I pick it up. Only now in the days of DVD did I get curious and buy it. I'm so glad I did. If you are looking for something different and a little grimy then I recommend highly THE EXTERMINATOR. I like this movie so much that I have a poster print of it framed and hanging in my kitchen. I have THE EXTERMINATOR part 2 poster too up in my living room but that is just because the poster looks so badass not because it is good. It is not because nobody gets shot in the balls with poisoned tipped .44 magnum bullets that shred on impact. You can make any movie good with poisoned tipped .44 magnum bullets that shred on impact and are set loose on some poor bastard's junk. Try it and see for yourself.