I like how Lou Diamond Phillips slips into a cholo-esque accent when dealing with the main Hispanic rapist

So they got this EpixHD channel that I wouldn’t know about because I have DirectTv and I got rid of HBO a long time ago and the Showtime channels I used to get for free are done with but it’s ok, since it’s not like I watch that much television to begin with (in the past 12 months I’ve only watched 3 television shows; Community, Modern Family and Louie). The only reason I know about EpixHD is because that’s where you’d go if you wanted to see Louis CK’s stand-up film, Hilarious. I went online, got the invite code, watched the film (which was very funny, by the way) and that was that.

I then looked up the on-demand list of movies available on the EpixHD site and it was pretty cool to see so many different flicks. In the end, I decided to watch one that I caught back in the summer of ’93 on HBO. It was a movie that was supposed to go to the theaters (I remember catching the trailer earlier that year when I went to see National Lampoon’s Loaded Weapon 1) but for whatever reason, it didn’t. The movie, Extreme Justice, starred Silverado and La Bamba (aka Scott Glenn and Lou Diamond Phillips) and I remember digging the hell out of all the ownage. Now, at my bitter adult age, I decided to give it another look to see if I still felt that way.

The movie is about a real-life unit of the LAPD called the S.I.S., an elite group of badass motherfuckers who target the worst repeat offenders and take them down hard. Pretty awesome, if you ask me. But the problem is that according to the movie, the S.I.S. does this by following the criminals and allowing them to do the crime, that way the shit’s air-tight and it’s no question that the bad guys are going away for a long time — that is, if they live through the apprehension because the S.I.S. guys love nothing more than to fill motherfuckers who are 100% Guilty with as many hollow-points as a human body is capable of taking.

Now, you might be thinking “What’s the problem with wiping the scum off the earth?” and I’m in agreement with you, because while I’m not some fuckin’ tea-partying Obama-hating J.O., I’m not some fuckin’ pansy liberal either. Ultimately, my problem with the tactics of the S.I.S. is that allowing the criminals to do the crime usually ends up with traumatized, wounded and dead civilians, because, you know, that tends to happen when a criminal does his thing. The S.I.S guys accept it as a necessary loss if it means the bad guy in question is never going to commit crime ever again.

The first example of this is in the opening scene, when Scott Glenn’s character and his fellow S.I.S’ers are waiting outside a liquor store while their target is inside robbing it. They’re waiting, guns in hand (or submachine gun, in Glenn’s case) and they do nothing, even when the robber pumps 3 bullets into the unfortunate store clerk. It’s not stated, but I think it’s pretty clear; in the off chance that this guy surrenders, they have him on straight-up fuckin’ murder and whether it’s life or the death penalty, he’s as good as done in the real world. As for the dead liquor store guy? Well, hey, I guess his family will understand that it won’t happen again, right? Either way, it doesn’t matter much because the robber doesn’t give up and is rewarded with hot blankets of nine-millimeter bullets to warm up his cold-blooded ass.

My imaginary friend and I had a bit of an argument about the S.I.S.; she didn’t have a problem with the result if it meant putting away a bad guy forever and I gave her a scenario to think over. I asked her to imagine if someone close to her was raped, and right after the rape, a couple cops came to the rescue and put a bullet in that motherfuckin’ rapist’s head. You’d probably be all like “Good!”, right? But what if you were to find out that the cops had been across the street the entire time, WATCHING this go down and just waiting for the rapist to finish so they can take his ass down with extreme prejudice, wouldn’t that kinda sour you on these knights in shining armor?

On the one hand, the world is one less rapist now and the victim has been avenged, but on the other hand, the victim could’ve happily gone through her life without ever knowing what it feels like to be sexually violated. But on the third hand (this is a mutant I’m counting hands from), the girl is safe but the scumbag doesn’t get taken down (or blown away) for rape, they only got his ass on Attempted. Who knows how much time he has to serve, if any? By the way, that scenario is in the movie and it’s the toughest to watch. I’m pretty jaded and can take nearly everything in a movie except a chick getting raped. I had to fast-forward the rape scene in Irreversible, so if that makes me a pussy, then fuck it, I’m a pussy.

During the opening scene takedown, one of the S.I.S. guys is wounded, so a replacement is needed. Scott Glenn’s character suggests a former partner of his, played by muthafuckin’ La Bamba himself. When we’re introduced to Lou Diamond Phillips, he’s doing that Cop Who Plays By His Own Rules routine, chasing and beating the shit out of some child molester/killer, so by the looks of things he was made for this detail.

I mean, even Phillips is like Fuckin’ A after Glenn tells him how awesome it is to work S.I.S.; you don’t have to identify yourself when you pull out your gat and the kind of excessive force that would normally get a cop suspended and/or fired will “get you a round of beers with S.I.S.”. Sure enough, he starts getting second thoughts after his first S.I.S. firefight; you find out he’s Excessive, but not Extreme in his form of justice. He’s not above beating the shit out of some fuckin’ asshole, but that kinda action takes a backseat to making sure no civilians get hurt in the process.

In a weird way, the filmmakers managed to be both politically incorrect and politically correct with the criminals in this movie; rather than go the Rainbow Coalition route, each group they target is a particular race/ethnicity — black bank robbers, Hispanic rapists, and white thieves. It does make a motherfucker wonder how they settled on which race for a particular crime. Did they go, “Ah, you know those blacks! Always knocking off banks! And those Mexicans obviously can’t keep their chorizos in their pants, even the law-abiding ones!” The white thieves happen to be the least despicable and yet the most in need of having their chests introduced to the concept of gaping holes, it’s weird how that works. Maybe the filmmakers still felt a little nervous about not enough bad white people, so they gave the black bank robbers a couple of white girl accomplices.

They cast some cool motherfuckers in this flick all around; I already mentioned Silverado and La Bamba, but the fellow S.I.S. guys are played by Yaphet Kotto (who sees himself as a lawman of the Old West, always dressed in country western attire and even carrying a six-gun on his hip), Andrew Divoff (aka the bad guy in Toy Soldiers and the Wishmaster in Wishmaster), a couple other dudes, and the captain is played by Ed Lauter (always playing cops or military, worked with Charles Motherfuckin’ Bronson at least twice, has a cool interview here). There are a couple other recognizable faces like Chelsea Field (aka Mrs. Joe Hallenbeck in the movies and Mrs. Scott Bakula in real life), the “wop” from True Romance, and Stephen Root from a bunch of other cool shit.

The movie was written by a couple guys I don’t know and directed by Mark L. Lester, who gave us Class of 1984, Firestarter, and goddamn motherfucking Commando, fuck yeah. But that’s not all, he also made Class of 1999 and Showdown in Little Tokyo and I don’t give a Good God Damn what you think of those movies, because they were all good times for me. And you’re probably all “I’m not convinced” and I’m now like To Hell With Your Fuckin’ Convincing because this fuckin’ guy, he also directed Armed and Dangerous, starring John Fuckin’ Candy and Eugene Muthafuckin’ Levy. The only way that movie could’ve been more full of Win is if Candy and Levy’s characters actually went by the names “Armed” and “Dangerous”. Anyway, I would give the credit to him for the well-done, old-school action in Extreme Justice, not to mention the freight train pace and absolute lack of cinematic fat. This movie is trimmed down to the bone.

And yet oddly enough, that quality could also be a liability against this movie. What I mean is this; the S.I.S. is such an intriguing subject for a movie, I think another film, a better film could come out of it. This is Sidney Lumet territory, William Friedkin territory, muthafuckin’ Michael Mann territory, this is some shit that should take 2 1/2 hours to breathe, know what I mean? I like Extreme Justice and all, it’s a good action flick, and for what it is, it’s fuckin’ aces, but because of the subject matter, it feels like some 3 hour shit that was re-cut to 90 minutes to turn it into the bullets & blood fest that it is. It feels like there was more but it got chopped the fuck out. I know that most likely wasn’t the case, I’ll bet dollars to bearclaws this was more or less the movie they intended to make, I’m just saying that I think it’s the kind of shit you could probably dig deeper with, if you wanted to, rather than the quick Roger Corman version of the story.

Which is not to say that it doesn’t work in any other capacity other than as a movie with guys shooting the shit out of other guys or punching the fuck out of other guys’ faces. I’m sure some dude probably rented Extreme Justice at the video store after looking at the cover (Glenn and Phillips running down an alley, guns in hand, ready to bring down some fuckin’ pain on an unseen motherfucker), and he figured “Right on, I’m gonna see the Silverado and La Bamba shoot some bad guys”. Then he takes it home, invites his bud, pops open a beer, takes a bite of pizza, and has good times watching motherfuckers fly through glass doors while bloody squibs explode all over their chests. And by the end of the movie (following Scott Glenn’s awesome final angry/mocking/defiant/desperate spiel), he turns to his bud and says “That’s fucked up”, to which his bud responds “You know what? Cops are fucking assholes, man”. So there you go.

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