Vice Squad/Vigilante 1983 ***

William Lustig brings the same verve to the vigilante genre that he brought to horror in Maniac, with Vigilante offering the simple pleasures of a well-made exploitation flick. Eddie Marino (Jackie Brown’s Robert Forster) is a mild-mannered blue-collar worker whose wife and kid become targets for a NYC street gang. But when the courts offer only suspended sentences, it’s Marino who gets sent to the slammer for complaining, with only Rake (Woody Strode) stepping in to save him from an in-shower molestation. Back on the outside, Marino’s pal Nick (Fred Williamson) is on hand to teach him a few tips about how to clean up the neighbourhood. Vigilante is a straight-taking (Williamson’s opening monologue is priceless) and hard-hitting thriller, rabid in thought and political stance, and all the more enjoyable for being true to its exploitative roots.


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