1983 Written by Richard Vetere
Directed by William Lustig
William Lustig does Death Wish with Vigilante! Vigilante follows a reoccurring Lustig motif, namely the entire system is corrupt and things can only get accomplished when you take matters into your own hands. Vigilante is the most extreme example, but the entire Maniac Cop series works under the premise the corrupt system framed the Maniac Cop, and even Hit List features police unable to protect people or legally bring powerful mobsters to justice. Vigilante says that what you can’t trust the cops and courts to do, you can trust guns and fellow angry citizens to carry out.
I saw Vigilante at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in their Bay Area Now 7 program, under the Invasion of the Cinemaniacs! heading, specifically the part curated by Jesse Hawthorne Ficks of Midnite for Maniacs, who hosted two William Lustig triple features (a sextuple feature?) spread across two days. Vigilante screened between Maniac and Hit List, while the next night was all three Maniac Cop films. William Lustig himself was in attendance, and did some entertaining Q and As. Lustig is very charismatic and shared stories about filming and some of the actors/producers of his films. I’ve included some of what he mentioned in the reviews.
Eddie Marino (Robert Forster) was just a normal good working man with a family, until his family is violently attacked and destroyed by a mad gang. The cops are unable to bring more than one member to trial (citing lack of evidence), and the trial quickly goes south due to corrupt lawyers and judges forcing plea deals, meaning the gang leader gets a whole two year suspended sentence for assault and murder of a young child. When Marino is rightly outraged over this, he’s the one tossed in jail for contempt. Continue reading →
Directly quoting from the above video complete with many typos:
“Last Ounce of Courage,” is an intergenerational story of a grieving father inspired by his grandson to take a stand for faith and freedom against a tide of apathy and vanishing liberty. Against a backdrop of military conflict abroad and domestic wars against freedom, a highly-decorated combat veteran is reminded that we best honor our fallen heroes by not holding too loosely what they gave their all to defend. Alongside fellow citizens of courage, faith and integrity, he champions the cherished principles we the people hold dear.
Starring Marshall Teague (“Roadhouse,” “The Rock” and “Armageddon”) as small-town mayor Bob Revere, “Last Ounce of Courage” uses the vehicle of a public religious display to ignite a spark and lights
a fire under a community that honors its American values, but has tired of fighting the “American Civil Liberties Organization” (ACLO) over the very rights guaranteed them by the Constitution. Former NFL great Fred Williamson (“Black Caesar”) ably plays the villain in the film as the head of the ACLO.
Encouraged by his grandson, played by Hunter Gomez (“National Treasure”), and his wife Dottie, played by Academy Award nominee Jennifer O‟Neill (“Summer of ‟42”), Bob finally takes a stand for his beliefs and revives his townspeople‟s latent patriotism. Leading the younger generation to join in and make a difference is Bob‟s young neighbor, Maddie Rogers, played by Jenna Boyd (“Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants”), who comically hijacks the town‟s annual generic school pageant.
The film is being produced by Veritas Entertainment, under the leadership of Kevin McAfee (“Beyond the Gates of Splendor,” “The End of the Spear”) and Steve Griffin (former CEO at Nest Entertainment and EMI/Chordant), both of whom have a passion for creating and reaching audiences with entertainment products centered around the character values that undergird family, faith and freedom.
Yes, it’s a Christian film that’s unironically a hypocritical piece of garbage standing against everything it attempts to be standing for because the real agenda is the complete opposite of what it states. It’s pure propaganda. The hero is a mayor whose son sacrificed his life fighting overseas in Afghanistan against religious extremists. This so inspires the mayor that he honors his son’s sacrifice by becoming a religious extremist. Okay. Sure, but it’s totally different because they’re different religions! Check out how easily the mayor owns the lawyer from the ACLU…I mean, the ACLO, as neither of them seem to have any idea what is actually in the Constitution! That lawyer guy never knew what he was messing with, a small town mayor!
Of course, it doesn’t matter how ridiculous this looks, it’s not made for mainstream audiences. It’s specifically designed for the hardcore Christian right, the group of people who make me ashamed to be a Christian. People who would be all for the exact same rules that the Taliban wants, except word search “Allah” and replace with “God”. This built in audience has probably already given this film a return on investment. It’s sort of weird that there is now an entire genre of Evil Lawyer versus Good Christian films, what with Christmas with a Capital C from last year. We even had lawyers suing the Devil for Suing the Devil! If I were to speculate, I’d guess this odd lawyer fascination is a response to losing a lot of court cases, and the proliferation of crackpot legal theories on rightwing boards, like those sovereign citizen weirdos or the Birthers. It’s scary out there, and it’s only going to get more crazy after they lose in November.
And be sure to check out the official “Patriot Day” screenings on September 11th. So tasteful you’ll be spitting out the toxic waste.
Remember, you’re not a real patriot unless you have a giant American flag on your motorcycle and children sacrificed to our military industrial complex.
Look out, Vietnam, Kissinger is back, or shall we say back and black? Unfortunately, this movie is not about Henry Kissinger being turned into an African American and being forced to kick some butt, as Black Kissenger is a different Kissinger. It’s Fred Williamson Kissinger. So you know he’s going to kick butt. He’s already been Black Caesar and Black Cobra, now this inglorious bastard is Black Kissinger.
Henry Kissinger (no relation), a Jamaican-born American cop, returns to his homeland for a vacation and runs afoul of a violent plot by an American hotel tycoon to seize control of lucrative waterfront resort space. To get to the bottom of it all, he’ll have to learn to play by a whole new set of rules – and rediscover the heritage he’s denied all his life. Black Kissinger. He’s the man with the plan to bring some peace to the promised land.