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EXCESSIVE FORCE (director: Jon Hess; screenwriters: Thomas Ian Griffith/Grant Morris; cinematographer: Donald M. Morgan; editor: Alan Baumgarten; music: Charles Bernstein; cast: Thomas Ian Griffith (Terry McCain), Lance Henriksen (Devlin), James Earl Jones (Jake), Charlotte Lewis (Anita Gilmour), Tony Todd (Frankie Hawkins), Burt Young (Sal DiMarco), W. Earl Brown (Vinnie DiMarco); Runtime: 87; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Thomas Ian Griffith/Erwin Stoff/ Oscar L. Costo; Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (New Line Cinema); 1993)
“Succeeding only in living up to the brutal expectations of its title by delivering the goods.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A violent but enjoyable thriller, succeeding only in living up to the brutal expectations of its title by delivering the goods. It’s geared for viewers not too picky on the values of their action pic fare. A film that will be often on cable, where it belongs. Jon Hess(“Legion”/”Mars”/”Infidelity”) offers a pedestrian directing turn, but keeps the fight scenes exciting. The writers are Thomas Ian Griffith, the film’s star, co-producer and a martial arts expert, and Grant Morris.

Terry McCain (Thomas Ian Griffith) belongs to Chicago’s Tactical Narcotics Unit. The vengeance seeking Terry obsesses over capturing the sadistic “Teflon” drug dealer mobster Sal DiMarco (Burt Young). DiMarco’s gang gets into a shootout with the narc squad and a suitcase with three million dollars is missing. DiMarco thereby kills two members of the narc squad and goes after Terry to retrieve his loot, which forces the cop to go on the run with his girlfriend Anita (Charlotte Lewis). Police Chief Devlin (Lance Henriksen) gives Terry a free reign to operate in this case. This gives our moody cop anti-hero a license to take the law into his own hands. But when DiMarco is rubbed out and Terry is accused of the execution, no one believes he didn’t do it.

Perhaps the best reason for watching is to catch 6’4″ Griffith, a black belt, do some kick-boxing on the baddies. James Earl Jones plays the slapped around suspicious owner of a jazz club, where Terry plays the piano when not kicking ass for the police force. The film would have been better off just sticking to its violent talking points then wasting so much time with its unbelievable sub-plot.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”