I Saw A Film!

Another twist on the rogue samurai coming to town and finding a massive violent division and having to choose a role of adjudicator, rather than just squeezing income out of the houses at battle. One house headed by Ben Gazzara who employs a bartender thug played by famous X bassist/songwriter/singer John Doe, and the other house, well a guy who owns the club that Pat Swayze, as super adjusted and cool as a cucumber, Dalton and his amazingly fluffy mullet end up working at. At leisure we find Dalton lounging with a Jim Harrison paperback! Man after my own heart. When we meet Dalton he’s literally sewing his own arm closed after a knife wounds him. Now that’s machismo.

The violence in the new club (the Double Duce, Elliot quips, as though it were an adlib, Double Douche) is only one problem, the team working the club are also selling drugs and boffing the dolls in the back on the clock. Dalton outs all their wrong-doing and makes enemies quickly. Soon enough he needs to call in help from his skinny-assed macho mentor Sam Elliot. We soon learn that smashing a bad guy’s knee is a philosophy, toppling even the largest Goliath. Dalton gives a lecture about behaving with kindness and walking the drunks to the door, but this seldom happens. Dalton bounces guy’s faces off tables and fights always immediately slam into neighboring parties minding their own business. There’s no neat fight. Hunting knives come out instantly, but only creepy Gazzara has a pistol, much like Yojimbo, which most of these sorts of films use as a template.

Gazzara’s team of hitmen come and do beguiling dances with pool cues. Dalton recognizes all the moves and eventually must take the life of another mullet-sporting trained fighter youth. This occurs just as a young and adorable doctor lady, his girlfriend, arrives to witness it. She’s none too happy with witnessing this Tiger Claw kung-fu move. We, the audience, are of course, bewildered. Dalton only ripped the dude’s throat out out of necessity- chick being stupid! And on it goes.

What surprised me about the ending was the willingness to make the violence a kind of guffawing joke. The temperament of the entire enterprise, after buildings are demolished, and fires set, and best friends murdered, wants us to be amused, fighting back the dark curtain of a downer so expertly constructed. And so shotgun blasts are mingled with Abbot and Costello level goofiness. This is the thing about these revenge tales, in order to raise the scale of the battle, very difficult to process evil has to be leveraged onto the hero’s plate. Once this is done it feels totally ludicrous to then immediately forget that tragic loss in favor of happy ending. But, that doesn’t stop film after film from playing that game. Somehow the vindication also erases the loss.

This is running you about 4 clams on Amazon Prime and while I’d seen it once before back in the day, I’d wholly forgotten so much of it. Enjoy the song by Kathleen Wilhoite who we just saw with Bronson in Murphy’s Law!

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