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November 18, 2013

Movie Review: Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence (1993, Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack)

Review By: Rob Sibley

Bill Lustig had a tough task with Maniac Cop 3. MC2 was easily one of the best action/horror films of the 80's. It's essential viewing if you dig these kinds of movies. It featured a stand out performance from Robert Davi, amazing stunts and gunplay that still is impressive to this day.

Maniac Cop 3 was released three years after MC2 and many fans say this was film that was better left dead. A lot of the blame went to Lustig but many didn't know the rather torrid production history the film went through.

In the making of feature director Bill Lustig had this to say "I hate the movie, I can't stand to watch it. Everyone got to piss in the pot, so that's what they got. A pot full of piss." My personal opinion is the film is much better then it's given credit for. For a film made esseintally by a comitte it came out well. Nowhere near as solid as part II but still it's a fun watch and at the end of the day... that's what counts.

Let's get some of the history out of the way so we can discuss the film. A company called "The Overseas Filmgroup" had acquired the sequel rights and contacted Lustig. From there Lustig and Larry Cohen had a little conversation with the films producer Joel Soisson.

A name you might recognize from the mid 2000's when Dimension films were cranking out those DTV sequels. He wrote some good films Dracula 2 & 3 but also wrote some turkeys mainly those awful Prophecy sequels and he wrote and directed Pulse 2 & 3... yes the ones shot entirely on green screen.

Bad DTV sequels aside, Cohen & Lustig pitched a Bride of Frankenstein concept that went over very well.  Soisson added in the making of his reply was "My partners and I sat back and said hey that's cool. We haven't seen the original movies yet but always loved Bride of Frankenstein." He then goes onto admit that he should have watched the first two films sooner since when he became involved in MC3 he thought he was just producing a sequel to two crappy films but instead was making a sequel that had a lot to live up too.

Troubles soon started as they had a tough time agreeing on a script. Soon enough one too many hands got into the cookie jar and nobody was happy with the script. This all boiled down to Lustig eventually leaving the project with about 40% of the picture being left to Joel to shoot.

Now that should be a recipe for disastor and many people (including the crew) say it was. But this reviewer enjoyed the film. It's nothing compared to Parts 1 & 2 but for a part 3 it was pretty solid.

Now after the ending to part 2 how on earth did they decide to bring back the undead Matt Cordell who is new resting in piece? Voodoo! That's right folks, they went the Weekend At Bernies 2 route and decided to bring a voodoo priest into the mix.

So Cordell is brought back to life, this time to avenge a cop who's fallen into a coma. Officer Katie Sullivan was dealing with a pharmacy robbery and the robber no-less was played by the great Jackie Earle Haley (Watchmen, Little Children). A shootout occurs which was caught by the media, the big problem besides the cop ending up in a coma? The media spin the story to make it seem like the officer was in the wrong and used unnecessary brute force.

So from then on The Maniac Cop is kinda out to either marry or protect? the cop and maybe clear her name by killing a lot of people in the process. The story get's kind of muddy to say the least. Luckily though, despite a muddy screenplay the charisma of the great Robert Davi carries the film. This time around they gave his character Detective Sean McKinney (Seriously again folks, Irish? Come on) a love interest in the form of the lovely  Dr. Susan Fowler (Caitlin Dulany).

Along the way Robert Foster shows up for a nice little cameo and has one of the films most memorable kills. That's were the film succeeds. The final third of the film is pretty much non-stop action. We get some John Woo (You heard me right) inspired gun fights in a hospital. Some cool burn stunts in a church and a wild car chase involving the Maniac Cop driving a cop car while on fire!

This is by far the least of the entries due to the less then average screenplay. But the action and the solid acting still make this worth a viewing.

Well despite Lustig's disdain for the film he didn't let that effect this amazing transfer. Mastered in 4K just like Maniac Cop 2 and presented in it's original wider 2.35:1 aspect ratio (The first two MC films were shot tighter at 1.85:1. Just as was the case with Maniac Cop 2. This Blue Underground release is demo material. I never thought I'd be saying a Maniac Cop film could be demo material. But this film looks absolutely glorious in HD. It's almost not surprising considering the cinematographer was the great Jacques Haitkin. The man responsible for shooting the first Nightmare on Elm Street. Haitkin can take a small budget film and make it look stunning.

The DTS-HD audio track is good but not great. You'd think for a film that's wall to wall gunplay that it'd really "pop". Well not so much, it's a solid audio track for sure but it's a let down considering it's a 24 bit six-channel track at that! Also included is a standard Dolby Mix.

The extra's start out with one of the single best making of docmentary's in the history of blu-ray. Why is that the case? Well in "Wrong Arm Of The Law: The Making Of Maniac Cop 3" the participants are so candid about what works and what doesn't and what went wrong that it's refreshing. This isn't some lovey dovey E.P.K. piece that most retrospectives are. This deals with all the nitty gritty details that plagued the production. It is a bit sad watching Lustig talk as you can hear in voice the disappointment he feels for the film. But Lustig & Soisson are very open about the issues of the film. It's nice to know though that Lustig & Soisson are now at peace with each other.

The most interesting factoid is that the entire cast was pretty much oblivious to the problems during filming. Also the cast seem to all love the film... go figure. 

Lustig mentions the Maniac Cop remake which is slowly in the works. Thanks in part mainly to the great Nicolas Wynding Refn who will be producing the remake along with Lustig heavily involved as well. It's one of the few remakes I'm looking forward to.

Next up are a set of deleted and extended scenes all of which are actually pretty good and worth the watch. I'm personally surprised these 10 minutes worth of scenes weren't added to the film.

We round out the release with a photo/still gallery and the films trailer. No commentary track around this time but personally I feel you couldn't pay Lustig to sit through the film.

Overall Blue Underground gives this unappreciated little sequel the all-star treatment. You'd think Criterion had their mits on this release considering how astonishing the film looks. This release just continues to show you how much care Blue Underground puts into their product. They truly want the fans to get the best possible transfer/extra's possible. This release comes HIGHLY RECCOMENDED and is a must buy along with Manic Cop 2.

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