Thursday, November 13, 2008
TWISTED JUSTICE (1990)
The year is 2020. Because of the skyrocketing crime rate, guns have been made illegal. Even police officers are forced to trade in their firearms for special tranquilizer guns called "stingers." This doesn't go over well with renegade cop Tucker (David Heavener), a Dirty Harry/Mel Gibson hybrid in charge of tracking psycho cases in futuristic Los Angeles. His latest assignment: to bring in a loony serial killer who is not only slaughtering women but also selling a dangerous new drug that deadens the effects of the police stingers and causes insanity in its users. Luckily, Tucker still packs a rifle or two, much to the annoyance of his superior, Commander Gage (Erik Estrada). Taking into account the poverty row budget (the police uniforms are laughable), producer-director-writer-star Heavener does an adequate job in all four departments. His script is predictable but includes enough funny, oddball moments to hold interest. Action scenes are handled competently, again considering that most of the movie appears to have been shot in and around one factory and an adjacent warehouse. Do-it-all Heavener makes for a rough but likable hero, and even gives himself a few Harry Callahan-inspired lines to deliver with a straight face. What makes a lot of these quickies from the late '80s and early '90s watchable are the supporting casts; this one features Karen Black, Jim Brown, Don Stroud, Shannon Tweed, James Van Patten, and -- in a five-second throwaway appearance -- Tanya Roberts. As comic relief by-the-book cops, Brown and Van Patten score the highest points, although Black and Stroud are always fun to watch. Veteran distributor Seymour Borde managed to get TWISTED JUSTICE booked into a few New York and Los Angeles grindhouses (and even ran newspaper ads!), but everything about this threadbare production screams "direct-to-video."