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Directed by: David A. Prior
Starring: Lance Henriksen, Leo Rossi, Charles Napier, David Warner, Jeffrey Combs, Cory Everson, Ashley Laurence, and Joe Don Baker
When a “Cops”-like reality show films a drug bust, and said bust goes sideways, everyone in town wants the tape it was filmed on. The heinous massacre of twelve police officers caught on video was masterminded by arch-baddie Cooper (Warner), and the cameraman who barely made it out of there alive, a guy named Bill Knight (Combs) finds the next couple of days quite trying indeed.
Everyone from Cooper’s right-hand man Taft (Henriksen) to the mysterious Donovan (Baker) wants a piece of Knight. Meanwhile, Detectives Duke (Napier) and Kincade (Rossi) are working the case and trying to get to the truth of this tangled web. But when Knight meets an attractive nurse named Laura (Laurence), things seem to be looking up for Mr. Knight...but in this complicated web of twists, turns, and constantly changing allegiances, who can really tell? And who is going to commit the ultimate FELONY?
David A. Prior, known to action fans all over as the AIP guy, here corrals an amazing B-movie cast for this non-AIP outing. It was 1995, video stores were booming, and with the right cast, they had a place for Felony on their shelves. With Jeffrey Combs as the main character, Ashley Laurence as the female lead and sidekick, and Lance Henriksen with an impressive array of multi-colored shirts, that was just the beginning.
We get Joe Don Baker with a triumphant introduction to his character, with an alley rescue scene that is really a lot like the one in Ring of Steel (1994), also with Baker. Maybe rescuing people in alleys is his “thing”. And with his fringed jacket that he no doubt bought at the local buckskinnery, he gives Seagal a run for his money. Then there’s Napier playing a guy named Duke, as he would right around the same time on The Critic, and Leo Rossi doing his best southern accent. Add to that David Warner with a grenade launcher and a small role from Cory Everson, and you have a recipe that raises Felony above the average dreck.
Prior was surely going big-time with this one, indicated by not just the cast, and the fact that it was released by New Line, but also the level of stunt work, with PM-style car-flipping and blow-ups. Cooper even kills off a lot of cops just like baddies do in PM movies. And of course there is the standard pew-pew bullet shooting. He was aiming high, and it works for the most part. At least it’s better-acted than usual, thanks to the experienced cast of familiar names.
It’s basically as dumb as an AIP movie (and we mean that in the best possible way, of course), with plot holes so big, Stephen Hawking has warned us all that they could potentially slow down the space-time continuum. But this time Mr. Prior has more resources at his disposal than usual. There are even some interesting contemporary references, like to the Tonya Harding-Nancy Kerrigan hoo-hah that everyone was talking about at the time. If only we could have heard David Warner utter the name “Gillooly”, Felony would have shot up a few points.
So go back to a time when strippers stripped to sleazy heavy metal (presumably this is the song “Dynamite” by a band called Psychic Underground listed in the end credits), and to a time when an array of B-movie stars such as this could assemble for a project like this.
Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett