Peter’s Retro Movie Review: Extreme Prejudice (1987)

May 8, 2012

Extreme Prejudice Movie Posterby Peter Nielsen

At the start of the movie we see a plane landing! Along with the rest of the passengers, Major Paul Hackett emerges. He’s played by an actor I’ve always liked, namely Michael Ironside from Top Gun and Total Recall for instance. What then follows is an assembly of a highly trained army unit, a “zombie unit” if you will, because as we’re introduced to each member we learn that they’re listed as killed in action and don’t officially exist.

Director Walter Hill (The Warriors, Streets of Fire, 48 Hrs) has put together an impressive cast for Extreme Prejudice. The actors playing these soldiers are a bunch I’m sure you’ll recognize when I name them. I’d actually forgotten a couple of them, so upon watching it again it was like: “Holy Crap! This is great!”

Tough guys... staring!

Tough guys… staring!

The zombie unit consists of Clancy Brown (Starship Troopers, Highlander), William Forsythe (Dick Tracy, Out for Justice) and Dan Tullis Jr. who’s been in a bunch of episodes of Married With Children. There’s also Larry B. Scott (Revenge of the Nerds, Iron Eagle), Matt Mulhern (One Crazy Summer, Biloxi Blues) and Michael Ironside as I mentioned earlier. They’re in town to rob the bank, but that’s just a cover as they’re in fact after some documents in the bank’s safety deposit boxes.

The law in town is Texas Ranger Jack Benteen and local sheriff Hank Pearson, played by Nick Nolte (Down and Out in Beverly Hills, Q & A) and Rip Torn (Dodgeball, The Beastmaster) respectively. Jack is butting heads with the drug kingpin, Cash Bailey, who’s running drugs across the border. Jack and Cash used to be childhood friends and did everything together. They even used to date the same women. Hell, the woman Jack lives with, Sarita, used to be with Cash before Jack and this is the cause of a whole lot of grief between them. Jack still considers Cash to be his friend but knows he has to take him, either in or down because of the drug trafficking.

This ain't no gun, officer. It's a lighter!

This ain’t no gun, officer. It’s a lighter!

Sarita is played by the beautiful Maria Conchita Alonso (Colors, The Running Man) and Cash by Powers Boothe (Red Dawn, U-Turn). Are you now beginning to understand what I mean by Extreme Prejudice having an impressive cast? It’s this butt-load of great actors that lifts this movie a couple of extra notches above the standard 80’s “actioner”.

Even the dialogue is good here and this being a Walter Hill movie, the action is top-notch and also quite violent. As far as I know, it was shortened a bit when it was first released here in Sweden! Censorship, remember? I think I actually rented it (on VHS) in Denmark to see it uncut in all its violent splendor!

The way we’re introduced to the army unit is kind of cool, but I’ll let you find out by yourselves. They’re very meticulous and thorough in doing recon for the heist. Nothing is left to chance! Two of them even let themselves get arrested, just to check out the strength of the law enforcement in town. And STILL things go wrong!

Powers Boothe and a menacing-looking Tiny Lister!

Powers Boothe and a menacing-looking Tiny Lister!

Things aren’t going swimmingly for Jack Benteen either. His relationship with Sarita is slowly deteriorating and his run-ins with Bailey’s men are getting more and more deadly. He even sets up a meeting with Bailey and tells him to back off and walk away and things will go no further. Bailey of course has no intention of doing that as he’s living the sweet life here. He instead wants Jack on HIS side and offers him a deal. Of course THAT’S not going to happen so we know things are just going to escalate from here.

You might recognize one of Bailey’s guards in this scene. It’s a fairly big guy by the name of Tommy “Tiny” Lister. I’m sure you’ve heard of him, either in movies (Universal Soldier, No Holds Barred) or as a former wrestler.

At first the two story-lines seem to have nothing at all to do with each other but as the movie progress they get more and more intertwined and everything comes together at the end. And what an ending! It’s basically one big-ass shoot-out between Bailey’s men, the army unit and the law. Have you seen Sam Peckinpah’s movie The Wild Bunch? The ending is kind of reminiscent of that one and Extreme Prejudice is actually very western-like in style.

Maria Conchita Alonso and Nick Nolte

Maria Conchita Alonso and Nick Nolte

With a cast as awesome as this, you can’t really single any one actor out because they’re all good, but I must say that William Forsythe is absolutely fantastic. He seems to be just a loud-mouthed son of a bitch, but you just know he can royally kick your ass! Just for the fun of it!

Michael Ironside’s and Clancy Brown’s characters are more the quiet types, but the feeling that there’s something menacing behind their calm façade is almost tangible! These are the kind of men that can break your neck without missing a single syllable in an un-going conversation.

What I also found highly entertaining to watch was the interaction between Nick Nolte and Rip Torn. It all comes very natural! Just like the scenes between Powers Boothe and Mr. Nolte. The level of professionalism shows! So, I guess you’ve already figured out that I like this flick. It’s a dirty, sweaty, tough-talking action fest that’s guaranteed to kick your ass! Courtesy of Walter Hill!

Until next time my friends… Have you seen Extreme Prejudice? Why not tell us what YOU think? The comment section below is ALL yours…

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