The killer is too insane to be caught. This ex-cop is mad enough to try!
Quick Blast Review:
Stoney Cooper (Wings Hauser) is an ex-cop ex-husband making a living as a Private Eye cum vigilante in New York. When he hears that the duaghter of his friend Sam (Al Ruscio) has been murdered in L.A by a serial killer called 'X', Cooper flies out to investigate - though his help is not at all appreciated. His ex-wife Eddie doesn't want him there, his ex-Captain threatens to arrest him, and the local mob boss he had previously rubbed the wrong way is out to get him. Once he starts getting too close to the killer, he finds himself being shot at by even more people. Can Cooper catch the guy that a whole police force seems cannot?
Deadly Force is a strange one. It stands on that border between gritty 70's Dirty Harry style police thriller and 80's over-the-top action, taking portions from both eras. On one side the L.A. mob guys, the neon lights and the power-rock soundtrack cement its foothold in the 80's action film era - and the opening scene with Wings 'negotiating' with a dynamite-weilding terrorist by insulting him is very 80's. But the style of the (numerous) car chases, the well plotted and evolving police procedural storyline, and the almost giallo red-herring killers place it in the 70's. This makes for an interesting film that puts a lot more thought into the plot than the usual action film we review here. The secondary characters, particularly Cooper's ex-wife Eddie, are well established and all serve a purpose.
Wings is great and a total smart-arse throughout. He beats information out of people on one hand or tries to buy them off with the other. Being of cop vintage his weapon of choice is a pistol, but it's mainly him that is getting shot at. One hilarious scene sees Cooper being shot at with a machine gun, from an adjacent apartment block, while he is in the bath! Most of the rest of the film involves Cooper interviewing people and being chased in a car. I could have done without the nude hammock sex scene showing more of Cooper than Eddie, however. Keep an eye out for a short appearance of Estelle Getty as Wing's cab driver Gussie!
The Final Fifteen:
The cops have what they believe is the body of the serial killer, but Cooper does not agree. After another glorious car chase where both cars burst through a wall, Cooper begins his final hunt for who he believes is the real killer, dispatching his associates and taking out the main player in a pretty tense cat-and-mouse scene. To remind us it's an 80's action film, one of the final shots is the killer's car exploding in flames after Cooper shoots it in the boot.
Australian PAL VHS released by Roadshow only a year after the theatrical run (pretty good for 1983-4). Solid full-frame picture that appears to be open matte, as I saw quite a lot of boom mic's! Not yet on DVD.