The urban vigilante genre is one that I have a passion for. Growing up in the ’90s I discovered back issues of The Punisher and quickly sought out every issue I could get my adolescent hands on. I had no knowledge of the state of the country, but I did get to see plenty of ’80s action flicks on TV and the idea of an urban ass kicker was the high water mark of coolness for me. I never understood why anyone would read a superhero comic book where villains are caught and escape over and over again when sitting right next to those books was The Punisher, who actually took care of business and got rid of the problem. Permanently. I’ve since had a love for the genre in comics, novels, and most notably in film. Charles Bronson is the ultimate badass to me. I had heard about The Exterminator, but couldn’t get my hands on a copy of it. A rare flick indeed, and with cover art of some dude with a blow torch and the promise of a bbq’d bad guy, I needed to see it.
Honestly I got a hold of The Exterminator 2 before I set my eyes on part 1, having found it for sale at a local mom and pop video store last year. I was left underwhelmed. Not enough action; the death of any exploitation flick. You can imagine my excitement when I got a copy of the Synapse released Blu-ray edition of the director’s cut of The Exterminator; a slick release from a great company. I popped it into the player and expected greatness. I got it, for the first 30 minutes at least.
The Exterminator is about a couple of Vietnam vets that get mixed up in a robbery and one of them is left paralyzed. It’s up to our hero to seek revenge and exterminate the scum that caused it to happen.
The first half hour is great. Non-stop action. Fights, shootings, bombs blowing up, torture, it’s like they crammed in as much awesome as they could in the shortest amount of time. Our hero goes from gang member to gang member with no segues whatsoever. We don’t know how he got there, or how he found them. But it doesn’t matter. Cuz some serious ass kicking is happening. The problem is the film is front loaded. We get heaps of great stuff but then the rest of the run-time meanders around with too much talking and a serious lack of cohesion in the plot. We do get to see some great shots of a vintage 42nd Street and all the chaos that filled the Big Apple back then. There’s just no clear direction of the film’s ultimate goal. Our hero goes around and kills a few more folks who aren’t related to the gang that took out his friend, but none of that really goes anywhere. And then the film just sort of ends with no clear conclusion.
The presentation is awesome though. Crisp clear picture with solid colors, there’s no doubt this is the best the film has ever looked. It also includes a DVD copy of the film for those of you who haven’t joined the world of Blu-ray. All in all, The Exterminator is a fun flick to watch with friends, and contains some serious action, it’s just too bad most of it is at the beginning.