Sunday, May 26, 2013


Director: James Glickenhaus
104 Minutes

THE EXTERMINATOR isn’t one of a kind. It is one of hundreds of revenge movies out there. So why should you watch THE EXTERMINATOR? Because it rests in that sacred territory of pushing the boundary just far enough to gross you out without making you barf.

THE EXTERMINATOR will remind you of DEATH WISH. It’s dark. It’s gritty. But there isn't an architect seeking revenge. . . No. Writer/Director James Glickenhaus went for a special forces operative. An obvious choice. This isn't intended to be a complicated movie. It’s about a dude who’s best friend get’s roughed up to the max by a  berserk street gang. So vigilante, ex green beret, and extremely loyal friend, John Eastman takes it to them the only way a special forces dude knows how. With mega huge guns.

Jefferson: Hooked
I must admit, with a genius plot like that, and with such amazing cover art I was pumped.The cover art is a dude with a motorcycle helmet and leather vest on, brandishing a flamethrower. He’s also standing in front of a WALL of flames.

To be completely frank, I did not enjoy this movie very much.

A word of advice if you are going to watch this movie: Don’t believe the hype (or the cover art). Online blurbs about the plot make it sound bigger than it really is. Take the one on for instance:

“A man's best friend is killed on the streets of New York. The man (Robert Ginty) then transforms into a violent killer, turning New York into a great war zone and Christopher George is the only one to stop him.”

Does John Eastman (“The Man”) kill people violently? Yes. Is his best friend murdered? Actually, No. Not on the streets. Does he turn New York City into a great warzone? Not even close. All of the deaths that occur in New York are fairly small scale instances involving a few people at a time. Not to say there isn't considerable carnage, but it’s hardly a warzone.

Here’s my edit on the Amazon blurb:

“A man’s best friend is assaulted and put in a coma on the streets of New York. The man becomes a vigilante. Leaving criminals in fear and the police wondering who is THE EXTERMINATOR? Then the man pulls the plug on his friend’s life support.”

The opening scene IS a GREAT warzone. The movie actually starts with Eastman being cannoned through the air in front of what appears to be a wicked bomb blast from hell. THIS IS THE FIRST IMAGE YOU SEE IN THE WHOLE MOVIE. He and his platoon are then captured by what appear to be Vietcong soldiers. They are tortured and killed until Eastman’s friend Michael Jefferson saves his life by breaking free and annihilating a whole bunch of nameless goons with what appears to be an M-60 (!) machine gun. Words cannot accurately describe the brutality that takes place in this scene. This is one of the most utterly shocking opening sequences to a movie I have ever seen. The violence is in your face and the pace at which it occurs gets you pumped up for the rest of the movie. But as the movie goes on, you realize that sadly, the opening will not be topped.

Starting strong
Eastman clearly owes Jefferson his life. Fast forward to New York City, where they both live and work as. . . dudes that carry soda and/or meat from trucks. . . Eastman witnesses some gang members stealing beer from the warehouse and putting it in their killer muscle car. So they kick his ass. Jefferson saves him yet again. This dude is a saint. The patron Saint of Karate.

The gang members hunt Jefferson down and sink a hook into his back and put him in a coma. This sets Eastman off. The rest of the movie essentially plays out like a Batman movie. If Batman had feathered hair and shot bad guys in their dicks with an M-16.

Right is the privates.
From scene to scene there is no exposition of facts. There is no build up. Right after Jefferson is attacked, Eastman shows up to tell his wife about it. Right after that, Eastman is shooting gang members. For the most part, the entire film plays out that way. For some viewers, it could be very disorienting.

For the love of Jefferson. . .
There’s a detective. Christopher George. He’s pretty dumb. He’s in a sex first, everything else second relationship with a doctor. She has nothing to do with anything. I think she’s in the movie to simply connect a character to the hospital Jefferson is in.

I could go into the characterizations, special effects, and overall quality of this movie, but that’s not really what this is about. It’s a Rambo revenge movie (At this time, FIRST BLOOD was just a gory novel). It’s an interesting artifact of what 1980’s action movies actually became.

Looking at this movie from the perspective of an action fan, it works. Not terribly well, but it works. It almost has more of a horror movie feel to it. The violence is torturous. Some scenes even remind me of Lucio Fulci’s THE NEW YORK RIPPER in terms of pure, shocking, violence. The main point I would like to make about this movie is that you can’t go into this movie with the mindset of an action flick. Hulk Hogan is a greasy bastard. NO HOLDS BARRED is not as good as THE EXTERMINATOR

This movie is sort of greasy
I purchased the film on Blu Ray which is a Synapse Films release. The transfer looks fantastic. I know Synapse usually does a great job cleaning up movies, but I was not expecting it to look and feel quite this good. The disc does have an audio and trailers. Other than that, there are no additional features. I really don’t think there needs to be.

THE EXTERMINATOR isn't a bad film. We don't typically give movies a rating at All-Star Video but I would give THE EXTERMINATOR a 5 out of 10 if we did. I have a strange feeling I would have held the film in much higher regard had I not read into the hype.

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