Reviews

Extreme Vengeance (1990)

If you have a mouth, then you love Doritos. And since you love Doritos, you know that they’ve got some EXTREME flavors. There’s “Ranched Dipped Hot Wings” and “Chili Heatwave” and one called “3rd Degree Burn Scorchin’ Habanero.” Then there’s Doritos JACKED, which includes an Enchilada Supreme flavor that is, yes, redundant because all enchiladas are supreme. I particularly enjoy Doritos Collisions, where they put two EXTREME flavors into one bag because two is better than one. This is an elementary math concept that can be applied to dollars, pizza, testicles, and almost everything else.

My point is this: When you call something EXTREME, you expect a zesty punch in the maw and a MSG headache. When you pop in a movie called Extreme Vengeance, you expect unspeakable acts of violence that hopefully involve teeth and a hammer, maybe eyeballs. This is what you hope for, but we all know that nine times out of ten, movies with “extreme” in the title are less JACKED and more like a Dorito that’s been in someone else’s mouth and served to you on a napkin.

This movie is no exception.

A tubby man is being held hostage in a basement. He’s crying. Some thugs rough him up and one shoots off his middle finger.

“Now I’d like to see you give my people the finger, punk.”

I believe that is called a zing in common parlance, but I’m not sure.

Mario Blanco sports a blouse, a thick gold chain, and a moderately bushy moustache. He’s Italian, so that means he’s a crime boss who just got out of the state pen. He’s out for blood for David, the cop who put him away. He does this by killing David’s son, and now David is out for blood for Mario Blanco. This is the “vengeance” part of Extreme Vengeance. There is no “extreme” part.

Imagine your best friend in high school. Now imagine your friend’s dad. What did he look like? Well, he looks like David. Now imagine you go over to your friend’s house to play Donkey Kong Country and you walk in on your friend’s dad having sex to the tune of a Boss keyboard preset. Now imagine he’s wearing red briefs. This is all you need to know about Extreme Vengeance.

That’s not true. There are other things you need to know, for example, the song that plays while David waits for his luggage at the Burbank airport: “He’s restless/You can see it in his eyes/Restless/ That’s one thing he can’t hide.” If you like the song, don’t worry, it’ll play again. You also need to know about the thug who looks like a long-haired Charles Bronson. He’s got a temper and goes off in a dojo, which is exactly where one shouldn’t go off. You are surrounded by people who know karate — there are just better places to act like a dick.

You should know about the exotic beauty with a rhinestone bra. She belly dances with a snake. It is not a short scene. One might call it extended. The dancer’s name is Mésmera and she has nothing to do with the movie. The snake is clearly unimpressed with the dancer and with the production as a whole. The snake understands that millions of years of evolution has only led it here. There’s still a lot more evolving to be done.

You also need to know about the melodramatic dialogue.

“You could not be like any other cop. You had to defy the system. The judge, executioner. You had to do it your way.”
“Damnit, Helen, we are what we are!”

A wizened old man plants some flowers: “I like working with the soil because it will never betray you. It knows that one day you will come back to it.”

Every single line in Extreme Vengeance is trite and tired. The dialogue is garbage. And yet I’m enamored. There’s magnetism and charm in the horrific lameness of it all. The conversations are easily the best part of this movie. That and the fact that the mobsters drive a yellow station wagon.

Finally, there is one more thing you need to know: This movie is 96 minutes long, but feels like 98.

From the Archives