Thursday, January 12, 2012

If This Wasn't Streaming On Netflix, Would Anyone Remember It Existed? Vol 3: GETTING EVEN (1988)

This review was published in a slightly different form at the Mobius Home Video Forum in February 2011.

(Italy - 1988)  Written and directed by Leandro Lucchetti.  Cast: Richard Roundtree, Michael J. Aronin, Harrison Muller, George Ardisson, Kate Chesher, Deborah Keith.  93 mins.  R

Not to be confused with the 1986 Edward Albert vehicle directed by Dwight H. Little (a pic from that film accompanies this film's Netflix Instant listing), this GETTING EVEN is a low-grade Italian actioner from director Leandro Lucchetti and notoriously cheap producer Ettore Spagnuolo and his L'Immagine s.r.l./Filman International, the company that spent the bulk of the 1980s trying to turn spectacularly uncharismatic Eddie Rabbitt-lookalike Harrison Muller into an action star. 

Here, Muller is Roy Evans, a homeless Vietnam vet in NYC (as evidenced by constant stock footage shots of the Twin Towers in the opening credits) who gets shot by some thugs while trying to help a rape victim.  While recovering, he's visited by his old commander Dundee (Richard Roundtree, in one of his few forays into Italian exploitation), who's working with the FBI in a hunt for a crazed psycho who's slicing up prostitutes with a kris knife.  Dundee is sure the culprit is nutjob Slisko (Michael J. Aronin), who was in their unit back in 'Nam and tried to use the knife on a prostitute while they were on leave.  Since Slisko left Evans for dead during a covert mission, which led to him being a POW for five years, Evans goes along with Dundee on the hunt for Slisko. Because hey, the FBI always brings in homeless guys and has them basically supervise investigations.  And Slisko probably does own the only kris knife in the world.  It's an open and shut case.

Turns out Slisko is running a weapons operation out of Bangkok, which of course sends Evans to Thailand, thereby enabling Spagnuolo to lift an entire extended action sequence straight out of Fernando Di Leo's THE VIOLENT BREED (1983), which conveniently co-starred Muller and this film's Deborah Keith, intercut with new shots of Roundtree, standing alone throwing grenades and firing a gun in the some of the most awkward editing this side of SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT PART 3. Not content with swiping just one sequence and putting it in another movie, Spagnuolo's most duplicitous act of cost-cutting madness would come in 1989, when he recycled Woody Strode's entire performance in 1984's THE FINAL EXECUTIONER into THE BRONX EXECUTIONER.

GETTING EVEN is pretty bad, but at least it's bad in an entertaining way.  You get gratuitous nudity; hilariously over-the-top dubbed profanities; bad guys appearing out of nowhere; Roundtree plowing into the requisite Stack of Empty Cardboard Boxes in a totally badass white Citation, a vehicle that hardly seems fitting for the black private dick that's a sex machine to all the chicks; Ted Rusoff dubbing both a racist pimp named Nick the Cobra and a Thai maitre d in a Bangkok restaurant; Roundtree's FBI boss (George Ardisson) being dubbed by the guy who voiced Frank Brana in PIECES; Roundtree getting totally cockblocked by an underling (first a Citation, now THIS?!); and, in the film's funniest bit, Roundtree getting shot multiple times in the chest and stomach with softball-sized blasts and splattered blood, then getting up unhurt with a clean shirt.  How is that possible?  Because he's Richard Roundtree, that's how.

One minor plus is that Lanfranco Perini's score is actually pretty decent most of the time. But if you've seen any other Spagnuolo productions, you know what to expect.  Acquired by Menahem Golan's short-lived 21st Century Film Corporation and released straight to video in the US in 1990.  Spagnuolo got Roundtree, Muller, and Aronin back together to recapture the GETTING EVEN magic in 1989 for Alfonso Brescia/"Al Bradley"'s MIAMI COPS, which had location shooting in Detroit passing for Miami.  In other words, vintage Al Bradley.

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