The Gratuitous B-Movie Column 4.21.14 Issue #303: Excessive Force (1993)
Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz on 04.21.2014
Action April continues with a look at the 1993 action flick Excessive Force, plus two TV Quick Hits, a new What’s Going On Here?, two more batches of Things to Watch Out For This Week, a new B-Movie Babe is named, a new Douchebag of the Week is crowned and more. Check it out.
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Issue #303: Excessive Force (1993)
Action April: Week 3
Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the internets movie review column that has never had to deal with barrage of anything, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column, and I am your host Bryan Kristopowitz. In this issue, issue number three hundred and three, Action April continues with a look at the 1993 action flick Excessive Force, written by and starring Thomas Ian Griffith.
Excessive Force (1993)
Excessive Force, directed by the great Jon Hess (he also directed the Olivier Gruner classic Mars, which I reviewed here. He also did Alligator II: The Mutation, a movie I need to see again) is the kind of straight up action flick that big Hollywood studios used to churn out and play in actual movie theatres around the world. If Excessive Force had been made today it would have been a direct-to-video title with, maybe, some small theatrical play in the big cities just so the distributors can say that the movie was in theatres. Excessive Force isn't a great action movie, but it is a solid, well made one that's well worth checking out.
The movie stars Thomas Ian Griffith as Terry McCain, a badass Chicago PD detective who likes to smack bad guys around because he's a badass Chicago PD detective. Along with his partners Frankie Hawkins (the Tony Todd) and Dylan (Tom Hodges), McCain is hot on the trail of Sal DiMarco (the great Burt Young), an Italian crime boss who enjoys killing people, running drugs, etc. DiMarco also has an issue with the Irish, both in the police department and in the criminal realm, because, well, they're Irish. McCain thinks he has DiMarco on the ropes and just inches away from prison as he was able to beat a confession out of one of DiMarco's henchmen. However, because McCain beat a confession out of the henchman DiMarco's case is thrown out of court and McCain is forced to start again at square one. McCain's boss, Devlin (Lance Henriksen), is pissed and wants McCain to stop being such a lawless badass. Devlin wants DiMarco gone, too, but the criminal justice system demands untainted evidence and whatnot. McCain sort of agrees to Devlin's request, but then he is Terry McCain of the Chicago PD. Beating the crap out of the bad guys is what he does. McCain also likes to hang out at a local jazz club owned by his buddy Jake (James Earl Jones), play the piano, and think about the big things like why he is a cop and what's the point of it all?
Right after the end of the trial, DiMarco decides to go apeshit and look for a missing briefcase filled with three million dollars. DiMarco has no idea who took it. Was it one of his own henchmen or was it a cop? After stabbing one of his own men in the ear with a pen, DiMarco decides to send his goons after the cops to see if any of them know where his money is. Dylan is the first cop DiMarco's men go after; what they do to him is painful and disgraceful (they break his kneecaps with a baseball bat and then shoot him and leave his dead body in a junkyard. The bad guys also shoot and kill his girlfriend right after she gets out of the shower. That's just wrong). When McCain finds out about Dylan he goes apeshit and demands answers from DiMarco. Devlin tries to hold McCain back, but he knows that he can't hold his best guy back, especially when one of his partners is dead.
So then some stuff happens, McCain and Frankie go to Dylan's funeral, and McCain decides that he needs to keep an eye on Frankie. McCain can't lose another partner. So, of course, Frankie dies in a horrible apartment explosion that sends McCain off the deep end. The red scarf wearing karate cop goes batshit, storms one of DiMarco's clubs, beats the crap out of a bunch of bad guys, and threatens to shoot DiMarco in the face. McCain can't do it, though, because he isn't a psychopath; he's just a badass. The next day, DiMarco turns up dead and McCain's boss thinks he killed him. However, because there's a small chance that he didn't kill DiMarco, Devlin allows McCain to investigate the bad guy's murder on his own terms. Never get in the way of a badass cop.
So then some more stuff happens, McCain hangs out with Jake again, and then he goes to see his uber hot model ex-wife Anna Gilmour (Charlotte Lewis) so he can complain to her about how much his life sucks and whatnot. Anna is in no mood to listen to her former man complain, though, as she has her own problems. So then some more stuff happens, and McCain decides that he needs to protect Anna because she may be the next one killed. But by who? If DiMarco isn't the killer, who the heck is?
After DiMarco is killed it is pretty easy to figure out who the real bad guy of the movie is. However, how the big conspiracy plays out does contain a few nifty surprises, so the movie has that going for it, too. Things do get a little screwy once McCain sort of reconciles with Anna and they go off to hang out on a farm, but the story picks up again once the farm setting is used for an incredibly violent shootout that shockingly doesn't end with the farm exploding. And the movie picks up big time once McCain finally figures out what the heck is really going on.
The action scenes are all well staged and exciting. The fight scenes, at first, are a little awkward because Griffith is tall and when he kicks a guy in the face it looks like he's standing a mile away, but you get used to that kind of thing, and since Griffith just looks dangerous you buy his every move. The jazz club business is also a little weird at first, too, but when you find out that it's in the movie to help the plot along it isn't as weird as it was at the beginning of the movie. I am shocked, though, that there isn't an extended scene in the movie where Griffith's McCain plays a full song with Jake's jazz band. Perhaps there's a deleted scene of that very thing sitting in a vault at New Line Cinema?
The only aspect of the story that I'm confused about is the whole "ethnic gang" thing. It does play a part in the end of the movie, sort of, but it really isn't that big of a deal (at least I don't think it is). Shouldn't there have been more Italian on Irish and Irish on Italian crime? Shouldn't there have been more general gang hideout stuff, where we see the gangs figuring out how they want to attack the other side? I mean, why have ethnic gangs in the movie if they're not going to be the story?
Director Hess has assembled one of the greatest casts in the history of early 1990's action movies. Griffith is excellent as the badass detective McCain. He has a classy side to him, sure, but deep down he's just a badass cop who likes to take down the bad guys. Griffith also looks good in the martial arts scenes, which is always a plus. Tony Todd, who the year before this movie starred in Candyman, is great as Frankie, McCain's main partner. He has good chemistry with Griffith and he doesn't look ridiculous fighting alongside Griffith, which is what you need in a buddy cop situation. I think you'll be surprised at what actually happens to Frankie, I know I was.
Lance Henriksen is a total sleazebag as McCain's boss Devlin. He just oozes contempt and you can't stand him and that's before he even starts talking to McCain in your typical "you're over the edge" cop boss dialogue. I don't think you'll be surprised at how Devlin turns out. I think you will be surprised, though, by the way he treats his wife. James Earl Jones does a fine job as Jake, the old local jazz musician who likes to hang out with cops. I didn't think Jones would be in the movie all that long, but he does play a major part in the plot and he manages to knock it out of the park (you expect that from him, sure, but it's still always fun to see that kind of thing in action).
Burt Young is goddamn awesome as DiMarco. He's a total scumbag, sure, but you still want to watch him try to figure out who took his money. And you have to respect any movie crime boss who is willing to graphically break a cop's kneecaps in full view of the world. And Charlotte Lewis is brilliant as Anna. It's fun watching her struggle with the idea of going back to McCain, a man she divorced for a reason (the guy was too into his job, for one thing). It's also fun watching her take her shirt off. When she does that you question McCain's sanity. Why the heck would he leave that?
Excessive Force is a solid action flick with a great cast, some good action scenes, and a pretty decent story. It's a shame that this movie didn't lead to bigger and better things in the action movie realm for Griffith. He did make more action movies after this one but none of them were really as big as Excessive Force. Griffith probably came into the action movie game a little too late. Where the heck is he now? Has he done anything lately? His imdb page shows his last credit in 2007. That was seven years ago. So, yeah, where the heck has he been? What the heck has he been doing for seven years? Anyone out there know?
See Excessive Force. See it, see it, see it.
So what do we have here?
Dead bodies: 25+
Nudity?: Yes. And both times it's glorious.
Doobage: A nifty opening theme and logo, clip loading, multiple high kicks to the face, bullet to the head, Uzi hooey, double handguns in slow motion, jumping side kick through a window in slow motion, prisoner abuse, broken ankle abuse, pen through the ear, boxing training, shower sex, a kitten in a box, kidnapping, multiple bullets to the gut, serious kneecap breaking, arm breaking, a vicious front kick to the face, head smashed through two car windows, a vicious street beating, a gorgeous ex-wife, exploding apartment, a seriously burned up dead body, table bussing, an alleyway ass kicking, garbage can lid to the head, a very cool gun briefcase, exercise bike hooey, mouth punching, attempted car rundown, more arm breaking, bloody teeth, threatened electrocution, metal pipe to the head, a massive shootout at a farm, kitchen knife to the gut, a barn fight, attempted pitchfork attack, pitchfork to the gut, stick fighting, car attack, a seriously fat background cop, cocaine snorting, cigar smoking, bullet to the gut, a small kung fu fight, machine gun attack, a major league roof ass kicking, and a cool ending.
Kim Richards?: None.
Gratuitous: Thomas Ian Griffith, clip loading, Burt Young, Tony Todd, Thomas Ian Griffith singing "Oh Danny Boy," jumping side kick through a window in slow motion, Ian Gomez, prisoner abuse, James Earl Jones as a jazz musician, Thomas Ian Griffith playing jazz piano, Lane Henriksen, boxing training, shower sex, Charlotte Lewis, serious kneecap breaking, Thomas Ian Griffith wearing a red scarf, a cop funeral, a very cool gun briefcase, a train factory, Thomas Ian Griffith hanging down from a pipe and shooting at a car, Charlotte Lewis topless, James Earl Jones saying "Fuck you!," cocaine sniffing, a funny refrigerator, a small kung fu fight, a major league roof ass kicking, and a cool ending.
Best lines: "Mr. DiMarco can't be bothered fucking around with you potato heads," "Shit! Fucked up my jacket man!," "You're out of control, Terry," "Excessive force!," "Man, you gotta do something about your ties, Frankie," "I swear to God I'm going to get my three million bucks back. Where's my money?," "I hate all of you Irish pricks," "Dylan's dead. We both know it," "What are you doing out running at night? It's a fucked up city!," "So you just get drunk, break into my house and feed your cat?," "You look good wrapped in garbage!," "I'm not gonna fight you," "Die with a little dignity," "Jesus, you're pathetic," "You are out of your fucking mind!," "You'll take a good bust over a good fuck any day, right?," "Something wrong, hon? When isn't something wrong?," "Game time, buddy," "Don't even dream alone at night of fucking with me," "Mario! What the fuck are you looking at? Go find him!," "Hey! Don't fuck with me Devlin!," "Who the fuck do you think you're dealing with?," and "I am not asleep. Anymore."
Next week: Action April concludes with Five Fingers of Death (1972)!
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And please check out my interview with director Brett A. Hart about the Ain't It Cool internet show and more!
Things to Watch Out For This Week: Part 1
- Scream Park: The great Doug Bradley, the real Pinhead, appears in this low budget horror flick about a slasher killer killing people at an amusement park. The trailer is creepy as hell. Even if it didn't have a slasher killer roaming around I don't think I'd want to go there. Rustic charm is no substitute for rides that work. I'm just saying.
- The Suspect: This low budget action thriller has both Mekhi Phifer and William Sadler in it, so right off the bat you know you're in for a pair of decent performances. And the fact that the movie apparently comments on/uses race as a part of its plot... how often do you see that in any kind of movie? Amazing. Very rentable.
- Unseen Evil: The great Tim Thomerson stars in this low budget sci-fi horror effort from 2001, which is getting some sort of DVD re-release by David Sterling. You may have seen it back in the day as The Unbelievable. Maybe. I know I didn't. This movie also has a sequel, although it doesn't look like that movie is getting a re-release, too.
- The Lost Empire: This is modern B-movie directing legend Jim Wynorski's first effort as a director, or at least first credited directing effort (I know that his Chopping Mall was released in 1986 but I believe it was filmed in 1984, which would put that movie before The Lost Empire as that movie came out in 1985. Unless, of course, Empire was made in 1983. I mean, that could have happened, right?). This particular DVD release is courtesy of the Polyscope Media Group and has been digitally remastered, so, in essence, the movie has never looked or sounded better. This is a definite must buy, without question.
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column B-Movie Theme of the Week
TV Quick Hits
- Raising Hope Series Finale thoughts: I can't say that the series finale of Raising Hope felt like an actual ending, mostly because nothing ended. Well, Virginia did sort of make up with her father, played by Jeffrey Tambor, so I guess that can be considered an ending or sorts. But what happens now that he's back in Virginia's life full time? How is that going to alter her relationship with her husband Burt? Is it going to alter her relationship with anyone?
Fox made a mistake cancelling this show. It was a solid sitcom with a great cast, good writing, and it was always funny. Granted, not every show was a classic but it hit more often than it missed and that's what you want with a sitcom. And is it me, or was I the only one who thought that, at some point, Jimmy and Sabrina would end up owning the grocery store?
Think about how that would have worked out. Something weird would have happened to Frank, because you know he would have finagled his way into upper management or head of security for an episode or two. I'm not sure what would have happened to Barney. I mean, yeah, he would have eventually been brought back into the store fold and been put back in charge, but what would he have done in the meantime? Start up another business? Gain a bunch of weight again and try to lose it?
Dammit, I'm going to miss Raising Hope.
So now the show is going to move into syndication, where it will get to live on for a few years until it's completely gone from the airwaves. Will it end up on TBS? TV Land? Some other network, like Spike? And what is Fox going to replace it with?
- Mom Season One Finale thoughts: I didn't think the new CBS sitcom Mom would last a full season. It was funny, sure, but it was also incredibly negative and, at times, dark as hell. I didn't think audiences would stick around after the first batch of episodes. The show became a hit, though, and it coming back for a season two. So what the heck is a season two going to look like?
I'm going to guess that Kevin Pollak's character is going to become a bigger presence on the show, as he's going to continue to romance Bonnie, Christy's mother. They won't end up together, though, because Pollak's character is going to have another heart attack. I don't see how the show can get around it. I also don't see how the show is going to get around Violet having another kid. She went back and forth on the whole giving the baby up for adoption thing, going with adoption in the end. She'll probably try to get the kid back from its new parents, something that will end badly for her (it's just a feeling I have). And then, because her boyfriend Luke is an idiot, Violet will end up getting pregnant again and she will keep this one.
But what about Christy? What will she get to do? She'll never get together with Gabriel, her boss at the restaurant. I really thought she'd end up with him again at some point in season one, but for whatever reason that didn't happen. She won't up with Chef Rudy, either, even after a relapse (that would just be gross. I mean, look at what he did with Bonnie). And I doubt that Justin Long's Adam will come back, eventhough he was a good fit with her. Will the ex-husband Baxter become a bigger presence in Christy's life and will they get back together? That could be a possibility. If he continues to hang around, that is. For all I know the show will just get rid of him for season two, send him down to Mexico to work with a pot farmer or something.
I do think, though, that Christy will have a full on nasty relapse. She made a big point of her sobriety at the end of the first season. It was a big deal for her to go one year with booze or drugs. With everything that's likely to happen to her in a second season I don't see how she won't.
And think about this, too. What if Christy loses her job at the restaurant? What the heck happens next? Will she end up working for Regina in her new get rich quick scheme that she will no doubt start up when she gets out of prison?
The fall can't get here soon enough. I want to see what happens next on Mom. I really do.
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column B-Movie Babe of the Week: Charlotte Lewis
What's Going On Here?: Does Beyonce have a thigh gap?
So, does Beyonce have a thigh gap? The scandal sheet celebrity gossip entertainment media seems to be obsessed with this topic every couple of days. Real human beings are discussing this subject on television. And Nancy O'Dell on Entertainment Tonight enjoys pointing out the singer's "possible thigh gap" whenever a new photo of Beyonce pops up. Why is this important? Is it important because Beyonce is a mega celebrity and every single thing she does/doesn't do is subject for discussion? Is it because Beyonce recently did that song about how the modeling world destroys young women by forcing them to strive for an ideal they have no hope for achieving (potential hypocrisy is always a worthwhile "news" story)? Or is it because the scandal sheet celebrity gossip entertainment media doesn't have anything else better to do?
To a certain extent it's all three. The media seems to think that everything Beyonce does is worth talking about. If she was ever caught going to McDonald's what she ordered would be the most discussed topic in the history of the world, at least until Kris Jenner went to Arby's (the media would then compare and contrast their orders over the weekend). The hypocrisy angle isn't pushed but you can tell that the Entertainment Tonight type outfits are trying to drum up some scandal on that side of things by always talking about it (it would be great if the media would just come right out and go with that story but for some reason it just won't do it). And, yeah, in the big scheme of things, unless some celebrity does something incredibly stupid/weird/criminal, the media usually doesn't have anything else better to do and needs to find stuff to talk about. Beyonce's potential thigh gap is just that kind of story.
So where am I going with this? I think it's high time that we, as consumers of entertainment media, stop watching, listening, and discussing this kind of thing. It's ridiculous. I still don't know why I should care about this kind of thing. The entertainment media wants me to care, but it hasn't given me a reason to care. But what about young girls? Shouldn't we monitor what they're thinking because they're susceptible to bulimia and other body issue diseases? I don't know, should we? Are we going to follow through on that kind of thing and not make a big deal out of how thin everyone is after going through six straight months of intense training? Are we going to stop marveling at how so and so dropped forty pounds in two weeks after eating sugar free mashed potatoes and celery?
Of course not. The media can't help itself. It's going to talk about this stuff endlessly. It just is. And we're going to all get sucked into it and think about it and discuss it as if it's really important. I'm going to try to not do it, though. I really am.
Here, say it with me: "Beyonce may have a thigh gap? Who gives a shit?"
Now, will you all say that every day for the next year? Please?
Things to Watch Out For This Week: Part 2
- Cottage Country: Tyler Labine and Malin Akerman star in this horror comedy, which looks like it revels in jet black humor. I mean, I laughed at the trailer, and then I felt kind of squeamish. Then I laughed again. Is the movie like that throughout its running time? I want to find out. Has anyone out there seen this? Anyone at all?
- Empire of the Apes: This mega low budget sci-fi riff on The Planet of the Apes looks like fun, although I will say that the apes in the trailer look ridiculous. That being said, I still want to see it. Again, it looks like fun, and more often than not that's all you really need.
- Ninja: Prophecy of Death: Lanny Poffo, the Genius, appears in this mega low budget ninja movie, which is cool and all, but the thing I'm most excited about the movie, based solely on the trailer, is how many ninjas it has in it. You really have to have ninjas in your ninja movie if you're making a ninja movie, right? Otherwise, what's the point of making a ninja movie then? Could show up in January as part of
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Douchebag of the Week
This week, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Douchebag of the Week goes to the ultra right wing media machine, for backing Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy in his dispute with the federal government. Bundy, who has admitted to not paying the federal government for using public land to feed his cattle, has been championed by the URWMM as some sort of common man folk hero who is waging a one man "common sense" war on an overbearing federal government, something he clearly isn't. Since when is it okay to not pay the federal government to use federal land for private business? And since when is it okay for a media outfit to openly support armed people threatening federal employees (check out this story at Media Matters)?
The machine is goddamn bonkers. Why the hell is this okay? Why?
And then there's Fox News, for claiming that there's now a "War on Easter." Yes. The leftist homosexual Hollywood liberal secular atheist elite has apparently declared war on Easter much in the same way it has declared war on Christmas. As you can see here, Fox wants America's Christians to stand up and fight this war because it's all about defending America's traditions. Some people are calling Easter egg hunts Spring egg hunts! Spring egg hunts!
Again, go here to read all about the conflict. It's pretty intense.
Why are pagan holidays meaningless? Isn't that statement offense to pagans?
And finally there's Nancy Grace, for her interview with Diamond Dallas Page in the wake of the sudden death of the Ultimate Warrior. I should have commented on this last week but, truthfully, I didn't actually see the interview until this past week; I had only heard about it. Now, after having watched the interview, all I can really say is that while the essential foundation of what she's allegedly trying to talk about is solid (why does it seem as though so many pro wrestlers die young? Wrestling fans have been talking about that amongst themselves for years now) she herself clearly has no idea what she's talking about and is just babbling about "rumors swirling," which is nothing short of shoddy reporting. Granted, this is Nancy Grace we're talking about here, but that fact doesn't absolve her of her deliberate, shocking ignorance. She's all about shock and the fleeting public outcry (there will always be some new outrage to talk about tomorrow). It would be nice if, one day, someone in the mainstream media did a real investigative report about steroids, drug abuse, the WWE's drug testing policy, etc (for instance, how many times has HHH been subjected to a drug test?). Are we ever going to see that kind of thing? Of course not. Wrestling is ridiculous and fake, except when something shocking happens. Then it's incredibly important to talk about it for a few minutes and then forget all about it. That, to me, is the real crime here.
NASCAR and Indycar thoughts
The big news in NASCAR during this off week is the future of Swan Racing. According to various reports (I saw stories on yahoo and SB Nation) that the low budget two car team isn't going to be around much longer unless it can find major sponsorship for both cars. With sponsor money becoming scarce for the top teams I would imagine it would be very difficult for Swan to find something worthwhile to keep the doors open. Since the whole "start and park" thing is now frowned upon, it looks like Swan drivers Parker Kligerman and Cole Whitt are going to be looking for rides soon. That stinks all around for everyone.
I do wonder, though, if NASCAR will step in somehow and find a way to keep the Swan team going. I'd imagine that NASCAR would want to make sure that it has enough cars to provide 43 starters for each race. If Swan drops out completely it would become very difficult to have 43 cars on a consistent basis. I guess we'll see what happens at Richmond this Saturday. Will Swan be there?
There have also been stories out there that Gene Haas, who just received his official Formula One entry thing, is thinking about having either Tony Stewart or Danica Patrick (or even Kurt Busch) as the primary driver for his coming F-1 team. Those stories are all ridiculous, of course, as neither Stewart nor Patrick have any real F-1 experience and are making far too much money in NASCAR to leave. I'm sure that both Stewart and Patrick could do it and eventually get good at it but, again, why would either one of them leave NASCAR to run last every week for a year?
Haas has said that he wants to hire an "experienced F-1 driver" and then, eventually, a "young American." I have no idea what "hire" means in this context. Will these potential drivers need to bring sponsorship of their own? How much will they have to bring?
The Nationwide Series and the Sprint Cup Series return this weekend at Richmond, the third "short track" race of the season. Nationwide races on Friday night and Sprint Cup races on Saturday night. Will Chase Elliott win three in a row on Friday? Will Sprint Cup see a second multi-race winner?
Not much going on in Indycar at the moment. The Barber Motorsports Complex road course is up next for the series, racing this Sunday afternoon. The NBC Sports Network will carry the race live. Will we get a third different race winner?
Well, I think that'll be about it for this issue. B-movies rule, always remember that.
If there's anything you want to see reviewed here in this column, feel free to offer a comment below or send me an e-mail. I'm always on the lookout for new stuff to watch.
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Thomas Ian Griffith- Terry McCain Lance Henriksen- Devlin James Earl Jones- Jake Tony Todd- Frankie Hawkins Burt Young- Sal DiMarco Charlotte Lewis- Anna Gilmour Tom Hodges- Dylan W. Earl Brown- Vinnie DiMarco Richard Mawe- Sam Atwell
Directed by Jon Hess Screenplay by Thomas Ian Griffith
Distributed by New Line Cinema
Rated R for violence, language, nudity, and drug use Runtime- 87 minutes