Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

As far as decades go, I realize not a lot of love is given to the nineties. But the nineties did give us legions of action heroes. A bunch of dudes who showed up in action movies looking to be the next Bruce Willis or something but unfortunately, for whatever reason, didn’t go anywhere in particular. Jeff Speakman comes to mind, or the late Brandon Lee and his action movie ‘Rapid Fire’, Oliver Grunner, Don the Dragon, Sasha Mitchell, or Cynthia Rothrock. We would include Michael Dudikoff but his reign was largely in the 80’s, but he is in the same boat. And even though these next two cats have had pretty good careers, Gary Daniels and Mark Docascos could be thrown on that pile as well. Today’s 90’s action hero who didn’t blow up is Thomas Ian Griffith. Why his action opus ‘Excessive Force’ didn’t take my man to the heights of superstardom is beyond me. Other than the fact it did kind of suck. Just a little. Maybe because he played Rock Hudson in that TV movie before this movie rolled around and he had to kiss a guy which put the kibosh on his action hero cred. I don’t know. Or maybe because Pat Morita beat the hell out of him in ‘Karate Kid III’. But it’s an outrage that T.I.G. didn’t become the star that he was meant to become.

Terry McCain (Griffith), Frankie Hawkins (Tony Todd) and Dylan Smith (Tom Hodges) are three tough Chicago cops who don’t play by the rules. Such as when they bust a drug deal sponsored by bad news mobster Sal DiMarco (Burt Young) with absolutely no backup. They didn’t need it because at the end of this bust, pretty much everybody’s dead except the cops and a couple of perps. One of these perps is laid up in the hospital where McCain beats him into squealing on DiMarco. Imagine McCain’s sorrow when the judge dismisses the case because McCain used ‘Excessive Force’ to coerce this confession out of this poor guy. What the hell kind of District Attorney even takes this case to trial? The really upsets McCain’s boss, Captain Devlin as played by a bleach blonde Lance Henriksen, who is sick of McCain and the fact that he doesn’t play by the rules. But he’s not as upset as DiMarco because somebody lifted three million in cash from this bust and he thinks it’s those three cops.

Now it’s time to torture some cops. First Dylan gets tortured, but he doesn’t know where the money is. He’s dead. Then Frankie doesn’t get tortured, just torched in an explosion. I don’t know if he knew where the money was since blowing a guy to bits limits ones ability to interrogate him. Now it’s McCain’s turn. That is if McCain wasn’t such a brutal badass. McCain is really upset at DiMarco so he marches into one of his hideouts and beats his henchmen near to death. All twenty of them. Then he finds DiMarco’s son and beats him near to death. Then he finds DiMarco and is about to beat him near to death, until he started crying like bitch. There is no fun in beating up a crying man so McCain goes on his merry way. Not that this stopped DiMarco from turning up dead the next day. Say What?

Now the setup is on. First things first, McCain has to grab his hot fashion model girlfriend Anna (Charlotte Lewis) and scurry her to safety. Now McCain has to find out who set him up. He thinks it’s James Earl Jones, but why would a kindly old man who runs a jazz club set up the smooth piano playing white guy he loves? Uh, because he didn’t set him up, not that this stopped McCain from pushing around a sickly old fat man. Asshole. Regardless, McCain is going to find out who set him up, by beating people near to death, and the truth will shock him. Not me or you, but Terry McCain. Because he’s not very smart.

This movie would’ve worked better as a spoof. I’m no law expert, but beating hospital patients with metal clipboards to elicit confessions generally leads to inadmissible evidence. I know this. Terry has a secret place where he takes his girl to hideout. Only three people know where this is. It’s his childhood home. Terry, EVERYBODY knows where it is. Absolutely no reason to beat up James Earl Jones. Who stole the money? I don’t know, probably the guy they showed us with the gambling problem. I’m thinking it was him. Terry is wanted for murder and every cop on the force is looking for him. Terry is 6’5", he’s bigger than everybody in Chicago who doesn’t play for the Bulls, has the worlds longest, curliest mullet, looks like nobody else on the planet earth but yet he can freely walk around Chicago, and even camp out in front of the police station. It had to be those stealth sunglasses he was wearing. While Charlotte Lewis’ brief titty shot was nice and all, who was that woman hanging out at Frankie’s hotel room walking around in her underwear? Damn… not that Frankie’s alive or anything because he got blowed up.

True enough, the story supporting ‘Excessive Force’ wasn’t thought out all that well, but it had Lance Henricksen in it and Tony Todd. Know why I love these two old dudes, though they were younger here? Because they know what it’s like to be a struggling actor. So A) they take every role they accept with deadly seriousness and B) they turn nothing down. Nothing! We like Thomas Ian Griffith, but based on this… my man’s no writer though that didn’t stop Lance and Tony from eating these poorly written lines alive. Sure, Tony Todd might overact on occasion, but he does so with force and panache. And watch Lance, who might be 5’6" and weigh about 130 dripping wet, intimidate the hell out of everybody simply by looking at them. Including his movie wife who had the nerve to ask ‘Is something wrong?’ What’s wrong with that woman?

‘Excessive Force’ is not a good movie and Thomas Ian Griffith did not become a big action star. That makes us sad, even though he’s had a nice career. Charlotte Lewis topless and Lance and Tony overacting makes us happier. And this why ‘Excessive Force’ is in my personal collection.

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