Saturday, April 8, 2017


  You'd be forgiven for thinking that legendary ass-kicker Fred Williamson plays the main badass dude. He gives all the rousing "this is our land" speeches, and kicks all the requisite amount of ass- but the main dude is actually a family man played by the ever-reliable Robert Forster, who spends most of the movie completely opposed to the entire concept of vigilantism...


  Actually, nope. Not even then. Dude still has faith in the 'system', until that fails him too. Then he survives some particularly rape-y dudes in jail (where they put him because he was in contempt of court) and in the end just happens to come across the main bad guy, and chases him for a while. More or fucking less, that's the whole movie. It's bizarre, and there's some ridiculously awesome surprises in there I won't spoil, but the surprisingly thing here is how damn mean-hearted the movie is. It's like director William Lustig saw the Death Wish movies, and decided to make his own movie even bleaker and more gritty. It circles right back around to being kind of absurd.

   The villains are cartoonishly vile, and it's kind of great in its own way. You feel absolutely nothing but hatred for these 'characters'. They only exist to validate the movie's outrageously pro-vigilante stance. It's bad, and great, and ridiculous- all in equal measure. What's even more surprising is how good some of the performances actually are. Robert Forster is absolutely compelling in the lead role of a broken man who just wants to have faith in the system he's been taught to believe in. There's no 'fuck yeah!' moment once he picks up a gun. It's a not-so-quiet resignation that he's going to have to kill a few people. It's not a thing to cheer about.

   But that's the thing, the rest of the movie is so over the top, a more energetic and shameless approach to the retribution act of the story would've pushed the whole movie deeper into cathartic territory. In the end, all I felt was dirty- truth be told.

All of these elements work in their own way, including Fred's vigilante bros, who dole out ass kickings to the local scum as necessary. But the movie itself doesn't seem to understand the formula for these kinds of basic revenge thrillers. Forster never had his own Death Wish moment in this movie, which is a shame. Regardless, Vigilante is a gritty, violent, absurd movie which I enjoyed a lot. I love the era, I love how ridiculously over the top it is, and I'm glad I own it on VHS.

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