(1982 / USA)
Reviewed By: Fred Anderson Director: James Glickenhaus Cast: Ken Wahl, Alberta Watson, William Prince and Klaus Kinski. Source: Universal Pictures Nordic DVD (PAL REGION 2 / 2005 / 84 min)
I've never been a fan of The Exterminator. I feel it very sloppy and messy, quite boring and it's only fame is the really lovely decapitation in the beginning (though it feels like the Vietnamese soldier seems to put NO power at all in cutting the head off). The story is confusing and it has bigger logical holes than... well, anything directed by the great Uwe Boll. But I'm a big fan of James Glickenhaus, and he's a guy that needs a slightly bigger budget to be able to put is glorious gore and violence into action. And he got it when The Soldier was made.
The basic promise of the movie is that some Russian terrorists (I think...) plants a nuclear bomb in the center of the Israeli oil fields and threatens to blow it if the USA doesn't invade Israel... or something like that. It's very, very confusing. But anyway, the US government (or is it? who knows...) sends Ken Wahl, "The Soldier", to see what he can do. But for some reason I don't know, he's getting in trouble and he's assembling his own team to start his own plan about how to stop USA from invading Israel and from stopping the nuke to explode. Or... wait... I'm not sure really. But it's kind of political.
During the way he fights off bad guys everywhere, from Klaus Kinski and his thugs in Austria to German police and Russians... and... well, some other guys with funny accents that runs around doing their thing.
I guess this review doesn't make any sense so far? Well, that's right. But the movie doesn't make much sense either, but it's very fine and violent entertainment. A lot better than The Exterminator, but not as slick as The Protector or Blue Jean Cop. Ken Wahl was a stiff, but good actor who works very fine in the action department. The fight scene with him and a black dude in a ninja-dress is great and he handles the guns good to. Klaus Kinski has a very small part (and Glickenhaus has some funny stories to tell about him in the featurette) and looks totally bizarre in an ultra-tight ski dress and with those crazy eyes - but great as usual.
The action and violence is of course Glickenhaus trademark, and in this movie he truly delivers. The squibs are gory and bloody, the explosions a huge and the rest is fine blend of amazing stunts and sometimes very dangerous adventure-pieces with skis and small airplanes. There's also some good, but not really exciting stunt driving and I promise you that during these 84 minutes you will never get bored.
The music is by the always weird and strange Tangerine Dream. They have a lot of genre-movies on their resumé, The Keep, Dead Kids, Spasms, Wavelength, Firestarter, Red Heat, Near Dark, McBain and a few more. Their music fits perfect to the cold and cynic violence and especially to the pre-credits, a stylish way of retelling the political status in the world in 1982. A perfect start for the movie.
It's also worth to mention that it's also uncut (and has the light bulb-to-a-bomb-scene that is missing from the UK release) and the print is good and clear. It's only during some of the sequences when they filmed with 16mm (for example in the ski-chase) that the quality drops, but that's of course of the film stock and not the dvd or master itself.
The featurette is a 14 minute interview with Glickenhaus and is very interesting. He talks a lot about financing, the stunts and the casting and seems to be a bright and intelligent director who's more of a businessman than an artist. He knows he's making commercial popcorn-movies and is not ashamed of that.
I guess there will never be a special edition of it, so go for the Swedish release and have a great time!
STORY/FILM-4/5 BITCH SLAPS PICTURE-4/5 BITCH SLAPS AUDIO-3/5 BITCH SLAPS EXTRAS-3/5 BITCH SLAPS OVERALL DVD-4/5 BITCH SLAPS
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