“Lethal Force” is a great example of how you really shouldn’t walk out of a film unless you absolutely have to, like for a life-threatening emergency or something. I was sure that this film was going to be a piece of garbage when it first started. It has the look and feel of an old porno movie from the 70’s, you know the kind that have stories, except that this one has all of the hairy sex cut out of it. But dammit, this film just keeps on better and better as it goes on.
The story is basically this – A gangster asks his friend, a killer for hire, to help him rescue his son, who’s been kidnapped by a vicious crime lord and his crew, the same people that killed the gangster’s wife. The killer for hire agrees to help his friend, but finds that instead of a rescue mission, his friend is actually setting him up in a revenge plot devised by the crime lord. Got all that? Good.
The idea is basically this – Alright, we’re making a low-budget action film here, that’s bound to look cheesy due to our budget restraints, so let’s go all the way and make this one of the cheesiest films anyone has ever seen.
Well, this may not be one of the cheesiest films ever, but the cheese factor definitely is one to contend with. Now, what separates “Lethal Force” from other cheeseball bullshit out there? It’s that these guys knew what they were doing and what they were trying to make. Not only does the film come off as some cheesy exploitation flick from the 60’s, with the cardboard acting, random violence and red and blue gelled lighting, but it’s jam-packed with blatant rip-offs, and I mean BLATANT! That’s a good part of what makes this film so great. Other low-budget filmmakers try and blend their rip-offery with whatever else they’re trying to do with their film, but they’re rarely ever fooling anybody. “Lethal Force” wears its rip-offery on its sleeve and begs for everyone to look. I mean, there’s stuff you’ll recognize from “The Shining”, “A Better Tomorrow”, “The Killer”, “Dr. Strangelove”, “Evil Dead 2”, “Enter the Dragon” and I’m sure many more. In this sense, they’re more nods than rip-offs, just like I’m sure some of you have noticed that someone named Cash Flagg, Jr. starred and produced “Lethal Force” and yes, the pseudonym is a nod to director Ray Dennis Steckler (“The Thrill Killers”, “The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies”), who would credit himself as Cash Flagg whenever he appeared in a film.
It’s not a perfect film, I actually think it would’ve worked perfectly as a shorter piece, but still, I seriously can’t remember the last time I started watching a film, grumbling about how I wish I would just go blind and deaf right then and there, and then end up cheering on the characters at the end. From what I understand, “Lethal Force” has been doing the festival rounds, so do yourself a favor and catch it if you can.