DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

VIGILANTE (director: William Lustig; screenwriter: Richard Vetere; cinematographer: James Lemmo; editor: Lorenzo Marinelli; music: Peter Levin; cast: Robert Forster (Eddie Marino), Fred Williamson (Nick Coleman), Rutanya Alda (Vickie Marino), Richard Bright (Burke), Joseph Carberry (Ramon), Don Blakely (Prago), Willie Colon (Rico), Carol Lynley (Da, Mary Fletcher), Joe Spinelli (Eisenberg, Lawyer), Woody Strode (Rake), Steve James (Ptl. Gibbons), Dante Joseph (Scott Marino), Vincent Beck (Judge Sinclair); Runtime: 95; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Andrew Garroni/William Lustig; Blue Underground; 1983)

"A restrained film that has its entertaining moments."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

William Lustig ("Hit List"/"Maniac Cop"/"Relentless") directs this exploitation urban crime drama. It's written by Richard Vetere. The message here is that you can't rely on the authorities to help, so you better help yourself.  If you've seen Death Wish (1974), you'll know what this one is about.

Fed up with NYC street crime, factory worker Nick (Fred Williamson) forms a vigilante group among the workers. Co-worker Eddie Marino (Robert Forster) is reluctant to join until after his wife Alda (Vickie Marino) is attacked with a knife in a home invasion and their young son (Dante Joseph) is killed by the Puerto Rican gang led by Rico (Willie Colon). Though arrested, Rico is released due to the corrupt judicial system. The irony is that the upright citizen vic, Eddie, is jailed for blowing up at the injustice. After Eddie's release he goes vigilante.

Woody Strode is a good watch as the prisoner who mentors Eddie in jail. Joe Spinelli is perfectly cast as the sleazy lawyer. Carol Lynley is convincing as the earnest Queens DA.

Though not a film that has much to contribute to solving the city's crime wave, it's a restrained film that has its entertaining moments.

REVIEWED ON 6/24/2015       GRADE: B-

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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