Blink and you’re dead!
A multiple string of well orchestrated armed robberies on military armoires in the state has got the press fired up. Colonel Harper dismisses the idea of a conspiracy on camera, but as we learn he and everybody else is part of the plan to sell stolen weapons. What is not part of the plan is Nelson, the lead of each attack who has gone rogue and taken the weapons for his own gain. One of the gun runners is caught by local sheriff, Jack Steiger (Rick Hill, Deathstalker, Inferno) and his deputy Cowboy (yes - Cowboy) when they try to cross into his little town of Granite Lake. We get to see how he is known as Fast Gun here when he blows up an assault rifle defended helicopter with three shots from his pistol! It’s overlaid with music that sounds like it’s from The A-Team. This is pretty boss already.
There’s a few directors where I will watch anything they have made: Bruno Mattei, Teddy Page, David A. Prior (Deadly Prey is a masterpiece). Last but not at all least, there’s Cirio H. Santiago. Most well known for his Roger Corman post apocalyptic Mad Max clones (Equalizer 2000, Stryker, Raiders of the Sun, Wheels of Fire, Bloodfist 2050) and 70’s classic TNT Jackson, Cirio has quite a number of traditional action films under his belt as well. When I was offered this rare New Horizon’s picture Fast Gun on local Australian VHS that I didn’t even know existed, I jumped at it. The usual Santiago bit-part cohorts are here on display too, such as Henry Strzalkowski playing Coburn, Ken Metcalfe as Rupert Jessup and Nick Nicholson as a hired goon.
Jack’s past as a former Sergeant haunts him in his dreams, a classic plot device that shows him killing his partner in the line of duty - something he agin must face in the final act, of course. He looks out over the lake of the cabin he owns, shirtless, with his girlfriend draped over him. This thing is so 80’s. His girlfriend runs the local bar by the way. That bar and every other building in town are hilarious; clearly 2D set pieces erected the day before shoot, the buildings all look like they come from a Universal Studios western backlot - though the movie theatre has a poster for The Barbarians on display! Jack defends his girlfriend’s honour in her bar beating up a motorbike gang member who responds to him “I’ll come back for you, gringo!”
“People are getting killed, what am I supposed to do?”
“Stay outta my way."
I had a load of fun with this. Rick Hill is pretty badass as the sheriff Jack and he really lets loose at the end of the film in an impressive, explosive display for a low budget film. He uses his fists a lot and punches like a boxer, hard and mean. Fast Gun is obviously a take on the likes of Walking Tall where the small town sheriff has to clean up the invading riffraff. Unlike the Walking Tall paradigm, the riffraff are already in his town and they are less riff and more rich arms dealers running guns out of a farm. There is one traditional scene where a motorbike gang try to cause chaos in the town, but Jack dispenses with them quickly through a display of badassery.
Deputy Cowboy stops a truck in the town centre for a misdemeanour, a fact which the Mayor (who is in on this gun-running game as well - seriously everybody in this film besides the Sherriff, the deputy and the girlfriend are getting a piece of this action) demands he let slide. Sheriff Jack notices but keeps to himself that the truck is riddled with bullet holes and has a fake number plate. He follows the truck to Rattner’s, a local rich farm owner wannabe Senator or something. Rattner is a slimy guy. The first time we meet him he’s being serenaded for his birthday by the local shit school band (seriously, they are so shit). Jack accuses Rattner of being involved in the gun running and in response, Jack is attacked at night (by the guy that called him Gringo, plus many others) who pour a bottle of vodka down his throat and beat him up. The next morning the town is messed up and Rattner and the Mayor blame the forcefully-hungover Jack in front of the whole town in the hopes of having his respect lost. Jack throws down his badge and resigns. This can mean only one thing - VIGILANTE RAMBO TIME!
So it’s nothing original - which from the guy that ripped off Mad Max at least six times, even using footage from his own ripoffs more than once - I came to accept, and in fact applaud. I’ve said it before, sometimes you want the fancy steak and mushroom pie with red wine jus, but other times you just want a plain meat pie with some tomato sauce on the side and a thumping 80’s soundtrack. Fast Gun is that sort of pie. As mentioned in the highlight below, the ending is beautiful set-piece action. Worth the price of entry alone. Jack the Fast Gun on the highest building in town taking out gun runners with his assault rifle is fantastic. They fire back at him with missile launchers, only managing to destroy more of the flimsy set. Full Commando styles, with Rick Hill doing a wonderful Ted Prior in Deadly Prey impression. Fast Gun is another fun film in Cirio Santiago’s long repertoire of action films. Get it!
The ending by far (spoilers, obviously). We’ve established that Jack is in fact a Fast Gun but he is also has a crack-shot aim. As the bad guy’s flee to the airport and their Cessna is taking off the runway, Jack positions himself and takes three pot shots at the craft with his handgun. The final shot is enough to blow the whole damn thing up in THE most disappointing fake explosion of the whole movie! But the idea that his pistol could blow up a jet aircraft is enough to make it the highlight for me.