Monday, May 9, 2016

Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence

And here is where the concept of an undead cop coming back for revenge runs aground. Maniac Cop was a fun slasher with a novel hook, a man-wrongfully-accused narrative, and genuine wit. Maniac Cop 2 had less in the plot and character departments but more than made up for it with absolute killer action and stunts. Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence (1993) reunites writer Larry Cohen and director William Lustig with actors Robert Z'Dar and Robert Davi, but the whole enterprise comes of as creatively bankrupt and half-assed.

Vengeful zombie super cop Matt Cordell (Z'Dar) was seemingly put to rest at the end of Maniac Cop 2, but a voodoo priest summons him back for ... no real reason. The voodoo dude never satisfactory explains why, and Cordell apparently acts on his own volition, so it's not as if he's being used as a slave (which might have made for a more interesting movie but never mind), so the whole thing comes off as a hokey excuse to explain why Cordell is back.

Anyway, police officer Katie Sullivan (Gretchen Baker) falls into a coma and is pronounced brain dead after being shot responding to a drug store robbery. However, a couple of sleazy TV newsmen edit their footage to make it look like Katie shot an unarmed hostage. Cordell takes an interest in Katie (who is known as "Maniac Kate" for her police work) while Detective McKinney (Davi) works to clear her name.

Hokey is probably the best adjective for this movie, from the voodoo to the characterization to the plotting to the action. Take the robber, a junkie played by Jackie Earle Haley, who can play a great creep and psycho. Here, he's all jittery, hyper yelling. The movie's idea to inform us he's a junkie is to have him grab bottles, toss dozens of pills in his mouth and to shoot up right there.

And the TV newsmen? They talk about finding a hook for the next Rodney King video, so they can sell it. Meanwhile, their footage is so unconvincingly edited, that any decent attorney would either get it dismissed as fake or get a subpoena to present the raw footage. Robert Forster plays a doctor who nonchalantly walks through an emergency room, casually dismissing the screams of patients who are being operated on while still awake (what kind of hospital is this?). Paul Gleason plays the city official who offers a deal to Haley's attorney and immediately hits on her. Another doctor, just before getting offed by Cordell, bangs a nurse in the doctors' lounge (with a stethoscope apparently). There's satire, and then there's just lazy scripting.

Even the action scenes are lame, not up to the standard of Maniac Cop 2 and coming off as especially cheap. The sleazy doctor gets killed when Cordell uses defibrillators on his head after chasing him to the roof very slowly. It's not exciting, and the movie doesn't even have any splatter gore or blood to liven it up. Even the climactic car chase pales next to a similar sequence in Maniac Cop 2.

The movie feels strangely incomplete, almost as if entire scenes are missing. Even with all the plot lines and characters, not much happens. Characters, including Cordell, go missing for long periods of time, and there's no momentum really pulling the movie through. Lots of footage from the first two movies is reused, and there's a completely out-of-nowhere dream sequence with Katie in a church in a wedding dress (while she's supposedly brain dead) that has no payoff and is never mentioned again. Maybe "Bride of Maniac Cop" would have worked better.

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