(nl) wrote: Maniac Cop 2 is that rare sequel that manages not only to live up to the original, but actually surpass it in many ways. Both producer Larry Cohen and director William Lustig have wisely chosen to up the ante in terms of action, production values, and scope . . . but without jeopardizing a sturdy story-line and imagination. What writer-producer Larry Cohen has done here (as well as with the original Maniac Cop) is taken a premise that is familiar to most of us. Only this time, he adds a clever twist. Instead of an escaped lunatic on the loose, the main antagonist in this film is -- appropriately enough -- a deranged cop who is more interested in taking innocent lives rather than protecting them. While the first Maniac Cop was a decent chiller, I actually enjoyed this sequel more. Maniac Cop 2 has better action, a better sense of pacing, and cooler special effects (among other attributes). Officer Matt Cordell (lantern-jawed character actor Robert Z'Dar) was a "super cop" who always went beyond the call of duty. His name -- and monster presence -- struck fear into the hearts of evildoers everywhere in New York City. Realizing Cordell is more of a loose cannon than they can handle, a bunch of corrupt superiors have decided to frame him for a crime he did not commit. After Cordell was found guilty, he was sentenced to incarceration in a maximum-security prison called "Sing Sing". While at Sing Sing, Cordell was attacked and "apparently" killed by a bunch of angry inmates...Well . . . maybe not. It turns out that while Cordell has been brain-damaged after the attack, he is still breathing. Cordell eventually dons his old police uniform and decides to patrol the streets while swinging his favorite stick. But here's the twist: Matt Cordell is not interested in killing criminals; he would rather kill innocent bystanders and seek revenge on the city for doing him wrong. Two brave cops, Jack Forrest (Bruce "Please stop calling me Ash" Campbell) and Teresa Mallory (Laurene Landon) have thwarted Cordell's plans of wrecking havoc upon the city, but my friend, this is only the beginning...After Cordell "apparently" drowned, both Forrest and Mallory are required to see police psychologist Susan Riley (Claudia Christian). Forrest and Mallory claim that Cordell has been responsible for the massive citywide killing spree, but of course, Susan Riley does not believe them . . . until she then witnesses Cordell, the "Maniac Cop" for herself. Now, she must convince fellow cop Detective Sean McKinney (Robert Davi) as well as the narrow-minded authorities (authorities have this bad habit of denying the truth if it will blemish their reputation) that Cordell, the Maniac Cop, is responsible for all those killings. But will they believe her before everything is too late? Meanwhile, Cordell is spending his nights killing people and framing others for the murders. In other words, he makes police brutality look like child's play. Trust me, you do not want to cross paths with Matt Cordell! If you do, either get the hell out of the way or pray that he will only arrest you! Anyway, to make a dreadful situation even more woeful, Cordell finds himself teaming up with Turkell (Leo Rossi), a serial killer and self-professed "crusader against the whores of the world". He hates strippers and whores so much that he loves murdering them for fun. Of course, the filmmakers fail to address why Cordell would want to chill with Turkell, but keep in mind that he is indeed a brain-dead zombie-like corpse so his motives will not always make sense...Like its initial entry, Maniac Cop 2 benefits from a colorful cast who play a variety of interesting characters. Veteran character actor Robert Davi portrays McKinney as a brass, cynical cop with a shady past (naturally). McKinney himself has a few psychological problems of his own; this is attributed to his partner's suicide. Robert Davi is a bit dull as McKinney, who often looks either bored or tired. And even though Davi is top-billed, Claudia Christian as Susan Riley is the true star. She plays a strong-willed and resilient character who is forced to perform beyond her regular job duties (she often talks about how she lacks experience on the street) in order to expose the truth. Michael Lerner (who would go on to be nominated for an Oscar for his supporting role as Jack Lipnick in Barton Fink) turns in a decent performance as Deputy Commissioner Doyle, who looks the other way when the police psychologist tries to tell him the truth about Matt Cordell.Incidentally enough, the supporting players are more interesting than the main characters. Leo Rossi shines as a maniac (no pun intended) who preys on nightclub strippers. Rossi provides a lot of sick & perverted comic relief, and he looks like he is enjoying himself. Isn't it always more fun to play the bad guy rather than the hero? Robert Z'Dar is perfect as the Maniac Cop. Like Kane Hodder (who portrayed Jason Voorhees in several Friday the 13th movies), Z'Dar essentially possesses the persona of an imposing and intimidating figure. Also look for a cameo appearance by Robert Earl Jones (James Earl Jones's father) as a blind newspaper salesman. In one scene, he delivers a surprisingly potent speech about how he lost his sight in combat during a particular battle at Sicily.Bruce Campbell, Laurene Landon, and Charles Napier are all underused, but they do their best with their limited screen time. I only wish that Campbell was given a more prominent role. One has to wonder how interesting it would have been to have seen Robert Davi and Bruce Campbell team up together on-screen...Overall, many of the characters in Maniac Cop 2 were cliched, but you cannot deny the fact that they were fun to watch. Perhaps learning their lesson from the first film, both Cohen and Lustig have spent their resources on improving the action scenes in this sequel. Thanks to some damn good (and even clever) action scenes, Maniac Cop 2 manages to rise to the occasion. There are at least three major action scenes worth talking about. First, there is a prolonged runaway sequence where Susan Riley is handcuffed to the steering wheel (!) of a speeding car -- while forced to stay by the side of the vehicle. She must somehow climb inside the vehicle and take control of the steering wheel. Keep in mind she is doing all this amidst heavy traffic on a narrow highway. The second memorable action scene is a bloody shoot-out which takes place at a police station (an obvious homage to The Terminator and Assault on Precinct 13). While it is way too short, it is nevertheless intense with plenty of bloody squibs used for maximum effect. There is also the climactic action scene taking place at the prison Sing Sing which is a must-see pyrotechnics show. Director William Lustig helps keep the action move at a swift clip and kudos to stunt coordinator Spiro Razatos for the amazingly jaw-dropping stunt-work. The pacing is also much better in this sequel. The original Maniac Cop often became tedious at times but somehow, Maniac Cop 2 does not fall under that trap. The horror elements are not as effective the second time around, but they still hold up with a decent amount of scares and efficient jolts. Since there is a lack of ambiguity regarding the Maniac Cop's character -- this time, we know for sure that he is a zombie cop, ala Jason Voorhees in a police uniform, as opposed to the first Maniac Cop, where we can debate whether he was just a madman -- some of the film's shock value may not work. Still, Cohen;s clever script manages to surprise us with some unpredictable twists which make this film only scarier and more suspenseful. The make-up effects are rightfully ghoulish and add only to the horror. In particular, when you see a ghastly close-up look at the Maniac Cop's face, your hair will immediately turn white. Although Larry Cohen did not direct this movie (William Lustig was responsible for bringing Cohen's premise and script to life), it still has his signature written all over it. One of Cohen's signatures in his movies is his use of conventional ideas but with an unconventional touch. For example, his cult classic It's Alive, is pretty much your standard monster-on-the-rampage movie . . . only the monster is manifested as a mutant baby. In The Stuff, a hilarious parody of "killer slime" movies (such as The Blob), yogurt food is not what it seems. Maniac Cop 2 follows suit with the adventures of a law-breaking serial killer cop (as opposed to just a law-breaking serial killer). I think that Cohen does all of this on purpose as a reminder that everything we hold sacred is not necessarily so. In the case of Maniac Cop 2, yes, even a cop can be a troublemaker. There is a bit of social commentary integrated into the script though it is not as in-depth as one would expect from a film with Cohen's signature. Here, Cohen attempts to take a stab at the media, corrupt politics, and the thin line that separates the cop from the criminal. Of course, Cohen here focuses on the third aforementioned aspect but he does a good job exploiting man's inner fear of witnessing law enforcement go bad. Think about it, we often entrust ourselves to police officers because we assume that they protect and serve us, and also save us from trouble. However, what happens when it is a cop who is responsible for causing trouble? Who do we turn to? As Sean McKinney mentioned in the movie, if people cannot trust law enforcement, they would "...not want to pick up the phone and dial 911. They are gonna want to defend themselves..." Of course, one of Cohen's other trademarks is his use of dark humor to lighten the tone a bit. Most of the characters in Maniac Cop 2 like to engage in wisecracks. An example of such dark humor in this movie is when we see a cop about to have a businessman's car tolled away. The two get in an argument. But as soon as the cop is whacked in the head by a nightstick (not by the businessman), he is quickly killed. You know what the businessman does? Instead of panicking, he grins and tears up the ticket. I also found the male bonding between Cordell and Turkell to be humorous. We see two unstable personalities ready to take on the Big Apple... For a low-budget production, the weaknesses are not too prevalent since most of the components of this film work unexpectedly well, but here goes. The real weakness with this sequel is the main character himself. In the first film, the audience could sympathize with the main character. Beneath the grotesque appearance, the audience could see him as a person with a soul. However, in this follow-up, the audience loses touch with the Maniac Cop. No longer can they see this crazed cop as a human being; rather they see him as a monster with no feelings, no remorse, and no conscious. This does hurt the film's credibility a bit, but I guess it is a reminder that the more Cordell loses his mind, the more he forgoes his traces of humanity. Maniac Cop 2 may very well be one of the most criminally underrated and ignored films ever. If you are tired of being force-fed formulaic slasher flicks, then Maniac Cop 2 is a welcome change from the norm. While Maniac Cop works effectively as a more of a traditional horror film, this sequel surpasses the original in almost every way possible. Maniac Cop 2 is a buried gem waiting to be discovered by a wider audience. This is one of the finest B-movies ever made -- and trust me, that is no easy feat.
(mx) wrote: Franois Truffaut is one of France's greatest directors, and I can say "La Sirne du Mississippi" isn't one of his best, but it is still a very interesting movie. I'll make the story short: Louis (Belmondo) puts an ad in the paper for a wife. Some lady named Julie responds, and they get engaged. They meet at a cruise ship. She isn't there. Then he finds some lady (Deneuve) who says she's Julie. She's pretty, so he accepts. They live happily for a while, he falls hard for her. Then she leaves and takes $27 million. Louis and Julie's sister hire a PI. Louis catches up with Julie. Her name's really Marion. He plans to kill her, but he still loves her. They run off together in this house in the country. She's wanted by the cops. The PI shows up. Louis kills him. They keep running. What now? "La Sirne du Mississippi" isn't as good as other Truffat films like "Jules et Jim" or "La Marie tait en noir", but this one is waay different than the other two. This one is stylish and sleek, and the two French heartthrobs who star give very convincing performances, and keep you interested the entire time. Truffat keeps the pace of the film nice and slow, and adds a lot of time killers to make the crazy scenes more realistic. Some complain about how this movie is too long, but really I thought it was something unique and different that I never ever get to see in movies nowadays. Truffat always does a similar thing with his movies-- he always makes the score and the cinematography pretty darn creepy, and here's a significant example. Every scene is like some place in "pretendland", and the score almost adds a "Double Indemnity" feel. "La Sirne du Mississippi" is pretty darn good. I'd say you should see it.