VFW

VFW

(director: Joe Begos; screenwriters: Max Brallier/Matthew McArdle; cinematographer: Mike Testin; editor: Josh Ethier; music: Steve Moore; cast: Stephen Lang (Fred), Fred Williamson (Abe), Martin Kove (Lou), David Patrick Kelly (Doug), Tom Williamson (Shawn), George Wendt (Thomas), William Sadler (Walter), Sierra Mc Cormick (Lizard), Travis Hammer (Boz), Josh Ethier (Tank), Graham Skipper (Roadie), Dora Madison (Gutter); Runtime: 92; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Josh Ethier/Dallas Sonnier/Amanda Presmyk; RLJE; 2019)

“The gory retro exploitation film is just plain moronic.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

It follows the storyline of “Assault on Precinct 13” and many mediocre zombie B films. Even with an all-star cast of former prime-time players, the gory retro exploitation film is just plain moronic. It’s directed by Joe Begos (The Mind’s Eye”/”Bliss”) with a strong sense of nostalgia and is senselessly written by the neophyte writers Max Brallier and Matthew McArdle (writers with no previous writing credits). It’s set in an unnamed crime-ridden city, at a rundown VFW post inhabited by grandpa-like vets, all either from the Korean or Vietnam wars who have never forgotten that fighting in the war was the highlight of their dull lives.

The teenage girl Lizard (Sierra Mc Cormick) discovers her sister’s death was caused by a vicious gang of punk mutants, led by a ruthless sociopath called Boz (Travis Hammer). He runs a profitable druggie business in the outskirts of the city, located at an abandoned movie theater, where the druggies buy their junk and hangout. In retaliation, Lizard steals from the gang’s open safe their supply of a super drug called “Hype,” a potent drug that can make you into a zombie and goes for a high price on the street. With a backpack of drug packets, Lizard runs out into the night with the gang chasing her and runs into the VFW, located just across the road.

The VFW Post 2494 is opened up every day at noon and closed at night by the grizzled, gray bearded, Vietnam combat vet bartender Fred (Stephen Lang, who is 67). He’s the tough hombre with a heart of gold who is in charge of the place. He’s usually accompanied by his longtime post buddies Abe (Fred “The Hammer” Williamson, a notable former star of blaxploitation films), who is a Korean War era vet, and the talkative guy with the same name as a military hospital, Walter Reed (William Sadler). Walter fought in Nam with Fred.

While the vet buddies drink to celebrate Fred’s birthday, they are joined by Shawn (Tom Williamson), a uniform wearing young black ranger, home on leave from active duty after fighting in the ongoing war in Afghanistan. He is visiting the VFW post for the first time, and plans on having a few drinks before going home to his wife. He’s treated with great respect by the vets for his war service in the unpopular bloody war that most Americans could care less about. Also at the post are regulars Doug (David Patrick Kelly), Thomas (George Wendt)  and the emotionally hyper used car salesman Lou (Martin Kove).

When Fred and the other vets decide to let the girl stay, despite Lou’s gripes, and though badly outnumbered and out-gunned, the vets agree to fight off the attacking drug-crazed junkies rather that turning her over to the animals to be killed (Why call the police when a good fight can let you get your rocks off!).

The good guys have a few guns on hand, a sword and create some deadly homemade weapons to counter their well-armed foes. That’s the set-up for the slaughter to follow. For entertainment purposes you can bet your army pension Boz will be the last of the animals to get it and will get it in a gruesome manner as payback for being such a dick.

All I can really say as a critique is that this stupid film was about as unnecessary as all the wars America has gotten into from Korea on. Which, I’m sure, was not the filmmaker’s intention for making this action picture. For me, the film’s bar brawl sure seems like it’s a metaphor for war.

REVIEWED ON 2/18/2020  GRADE: C

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