Extreme Vengeance (1990)- * * *
Directed by: Roger Zahr
Starring: David A. Cox, Michael De Costa, Tanya Lemani, Al Bordighi, Gina Bergee, Lisa Hamilton, Brian Lally, and Mesmera
When evil mob boss Mario Blanco (De Costa) kills a young man named Michael (Kaidley), he upsets the wrong man: an angry ex-cop known only as David (Cox). David had to retire after 18 years on the force because he exposed police corruption. In other words, he "couldn't play by the rules". He flies from Chicago to L.A. to get justice for his son, and it's there he reconnects with his ex-wife Helen (Lemani) and their daughter Jenney (Bergee). He also starts his quest for revenge by working with his friend Billy (Lally) and ex-mobster Don Alfonso (Bordighi).
If it's one thing we love here at Comeuppance Reviews, it's when a surly elderly man takes out the trash. By that we mean by shooting them, blowing them up, creating a convoluted exploding soccer ball, poisoning their pasta, whatever the case may be. Extreme Vengeance is a micro-budgeted mob movie that delivers the surly. And the elderly. In spades. The presence and the performance of David A. Cox as David (please tell me this is how he is in real life) is a joy to behold. You put that together with his fashion choices and you've got quite a heady mix.
Is that a reference to the fact that they thought the Bronson series was over by that point? Because they were wrong - Death Wish V: The Face of Death came out in 1994. A per usual with AIP, the people featured on the box are not in the movie. Nevertheless, David and Blanco make good nemeses for each other - they both openly proclaim that they hate wimps.
Blanco looks like an overweight Hal Linden and clearly he's the ultimate villain for the grumpy grandpa to face off against.
According to the imdb, Cox had a small role in North by Northwest (1959). It's fascinating to think that not only does his career stretch back that far, but as an actor one minute you're working with Hitchcock, and in the blink of an eye you're starring in an AIP movie with practically no budget, pacing issues, amateurish technical qualities and muddy audio and filled with non-professional actors. Of course, for us that's all part of the fun and not at all a bad thing. Director Roger Zahr got his movie into stores and that's extremely impressive. About as extreme as the vengeance, you might say.
A highlight of the film is the main theme song, "Restless" by Andy. Just Andy. It's a catchy synth-pop ditty that follows David around as he does all the important things: arriving at Burbank airport, picking up his luggage, hunting for badguys in the strip mall with Dr. Deli, etc. Once heard, never forgotten.
Writer/director Zahr is indeed multi-talented. He also worked on the film's soundtrack, including the synths and, according to the credits, "percution". We assume they mean "percussion". As we always say, when your movie credits feature spelling errors, you know you're in for cinematic gold. Or at least an experience that is very much unlike most others and well out of the mainstream. That's what makes Extreme Vengeance and others like it so enjoyable to watch, and so fascinating: they're not just time capsules, they seem to have come from another world entirely.