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Vigilante

Directors -  William Lustig

Cast - Robert Forster, Fred Williamson

Country of Origin - U.S.

Discs -1

MSRP - $19.95

Distributor - Blue Underground

Reviewer - Scott MacDonald

The Film (3.5/5)


    Vigilante is Bill Lustig's follow up to  his now classic slasher Maniac. The film tells the story of Eddie  Marino (Robert Forster), a factory worker with a house, his wife Vickie  (Rutanya Alda), and 3 year old son Scott (Dante Joseph). One day his  wife stands up to some members of a street gang that she sees harassing  someone on the street. They leave the scene, but end up following her  home. The gang breaks into the house, and proceeds to rape, and savagely beat her, and kill their son. Eddie believes in the system, but when  the system fails him, he decides to get together with a few friends and  get justice the only way they can.


     Watching Vigilante I kept thinking about the opening conversation in the Godfather between Vito and Bonasera on the nature of justice. A similar conversation takes place in this film, this time between Fred  Williamson's character Nick and Robert Forster's Eddie Marino. In it  Williamson suggest that the world has gotten so decrepit, and the system so corrupt that the only true justice is that which you create for  yourself. Robert Forster at this point believes in the system, even  though his wife has recently been raped, and his young son is dead he  still believes that justice will prevail.
    

       It is that conversation that sold me on this movie. I grew up  watching Charlie Bronson in numerous Death Wish films (and Death Wish  knockoffs ie 10 to Midnight), and I never felt any sort of character development. In this  film I expected the same sort of progression, bad thing happens, and  then there's action and violence galore. Yes, Vigilante has action and  violence, maybe more so than the original Death Wish, but it has a  character that is more easily identifiable that Bronson's Paul Kersey. A lot of this rest on the shoulders of Robert Forster who takes a  character that could have been your typical one dimensional revenge  movie character, and creates a living breathing character, that the  viewer can identity with.
    

      Vigilante is also a who's who of exploitation film regulars from  Fred Williamson (Warriors of the Lost World, The Inglorious Bastards) to Joe Spinell (Maniac, Starcrash). All of the actors fit their roles  quite naturally, and while a lot of this could have been considered  clich√© the performances from the cast, and the direction by Lustig  definitely elevates this to a whole other level. Like Maniac before it  this film is dark and grimy. The soundtrack by Jay Chattaway is  absolutely fantastic, and fits the vibe of the film completely. It is up there with Jimmy Page's soundtrack to Death Wish 2 for best vigilante  film soundtrack. It's one of few film scores that I would run out and  buy on CD if only I could find it.

 

Audio/Video (4/5)

 

       Blue Underground have exceeded all expectations with their  release of Vigilante. Blue Underground has presented Vigilante with a  2:35:1 1080p anamorphic widescreen transfer.  This transfer is very  filmlike, retaining a nice healthy level of film grain. The black  levels are deep, and flesh tones are accurate.  The level of detail  present here is simply incredible.

 

      Blue Underground has presented a variety of audio options for  the film including a 7.1 DTS-HD track a 5.1 Surround Sound track (which  was my track of choice), and a variety of Dolby Digital Mono tracks in  French, German, and Italian.  There are subtitles provided in English,  French, Spanish, and Portegeuse.  The sound is quite dynamic Jay  Chattaway's score pumps from the speakers, and the effects levels are  quite good.¬  The only minor complaint is that some of the dialogue is  mixed low, so I found myself frequently having to adjust the volume  during certain dialogue sequences.

 

Extras (3.5/5)

       Blue Underground has put together a pretty awesome package for  it's release of Vigilante.  It kicks off with 2 commentary tracks both  featuring Vigilante director and Blue Underground head honcho William  Lustig.  The first track has him appearing with cast members Robert  Forster, Fred Williamson, and Frank Pesce.  The second featuers Lustig  again this time with the films producer Andrew Garroni.  Lustig has  always been an ace commentator on his own films (his Maniac commentary  is legend), and the tracks here are a mix of informative and  entertaining as Lustig and Company discuss various aspects of the  production, and influences on the film

      The disc is rounded off by 4 trailers, radio, and TV spots.   There is also a still gallery, and a promo spot for the film.  This  promo spot was used to generate interest at the Milan film market prior  to going into production.  This was my absolute favorite extra on the  disc, simply for the text crawl prior to the promo spot that detailed  how the spot was produced on such a low budget, and what it achieved for the filmmakers.   If you are an aspiring filmmaker, it is simply  amazing.

Overall

    Bill Lustig's Vigilante is a serious bad-ass piece of  Vigilante revenge cinema.¬  The grim and gritty direction by Bill Lustig  combined with the performances of leads Robert Forster and Fred  Williamson elevate this flick above the standard revenge flick.  It is  definitely in my top 3 Vigilante revenge neck and neck with Death Wish 3.  The soundtrack by Jay Chattaway is synth heavy, dated, and bursting  with sleazy awesomeness. The audio/video is excellent, maintaining  Blue Underground's quality standard yet again.  The extras are limited,  but are a good mix of interesting and informative.

     This is another Blue Underground release that is highly  recommended, between this and the July release of Uncle Sam my cinematic appetite is seriously whetted for Bill's debut stroke of horror genius  next months Blu-ray release of MANIAC!