Vigilante (aKa Street Gang) is a 1982 revenge film produced and directed by William Lustig (Maniac, Maniac Cop Trilogy, Uncle Sam, and Relentless). It was written by Richard Vetere (Dellaventura, The Third Miracle, and Hot Honey). It was produced by Andrew W. Garroni (Maniac, Maniac 2012, Animal Instincts franchise, Secret Games franchise, and Body of Influence franchise). It grossed $5,091,888 at the box office worldwide!!!!
Eddie Marino (played by: Robert Forster from Jackie Brown, The Wolf of Snow Hollow, Twin Peaks, and Original Gangstas) is a factory worker in New York City. He has a wife named Vickie (played by: Rutanya Alda from The Deer Hunter, The Dark Half, Christmas Evil, and Amityville II: The Possession) and an eight-year-old son named Scott (played by: Dante Joseph). Eddie’s friend Nick (played by: Fred Williamson from From Dusk Till Dawn, The Inglorious Bastards, White Fire, and Boss) plus two other co-workers Burke (played Richard Bright from The Godfather trilogy, Once Upon a Time in America, Girls Nite Out, and Red Heat) and Ramon (played by: Joseph Carberry from Speed, Viper, Short Eyes, and Missing in Action) have formed a secret vigilante group because they are fed up with the crime in their neighborhoods. One evening, Eddie returns home from work only to discover that Vickie has been stabbed, and Scott has been shot dead in a home invasion which was in retaliation for Vickie aiding a gas station attendant who was being assaulted earlier. Frederico “Rico” Melendez (played by: Willie Colón from The Last Fight, It Could Happen to You, and Miami Vice), the leader of a Puerto Rican street gang is arrested for the crime. Assistant District Attorney Mary Fletcher (played by: Carol Lynley from Howling VI: The Freaks, The Night Stalker, The Poseidon Adventure, and Beware! The Blob) seeks a lengthy jail sentence, since New York does not have the death penalty.
Nick tries to convince Eddie to join the vigilante group, but Eddie turns Nick down, preferring to let the courts handle Rico. Nick’s lack of faith in the system is proven correct when Rico is set free after his right-hand man, Prago (played by: Don Blakely from Pulp Fiction, Under Siege 2: Dark Territory, Harlem Nights, and Brubaker) bribes both Judge Sinclair (played by: Vincent Beck from And Justice for All, Firepower, and Mannix) and Rico’s attorney Eisenburg (played by: Joe Spinell from Maniac, Rocky 1/2, Cruising, and The Last Horror Film). Enraged, Eddie attacks the judge and is sentenced to 30 days in jail. With Eddie in jail, the vigilante group tracks down the source of the drugs in their neighborhood. After roughing up a small-time drug dealer (played by: Frank Pesce from Donnie Brasco, Beverly Hills Cop 1/2, Midnight Run, and Fingers) and torturing his supplier, they are led to a high-ranking member of the New York mayor’s office. Meanwhile, in prison, Eddie befriends an inmate named Rake (okayed by: Woody Strode from The Quick and the Dead, The Cotton Club, Kingdom of the Spiders, and The Professionals) who saves him from being gang raped in the showers. As soon as Eddie is released from jail, he joins the vigilante group so he can track down and kill Rico, Prago, and Judge Sinclair. Will Eddie get his revenge????
Vigilante is one of the best revenge flicks from the 80’s and that’s a bold statement considering how many they made from that sub-genre back then. Death Wish really made this type of movie popular. They were pumping out these exploitation films for the grindhouse spots all over the world at the time. This one had a quality script, you wanted Eddie to get his revenge on these corrupt scumbags. Robert Forster gives one of his best performances as a normal guy that has his life changed in the worst possible way and decides to do something about it since the law was useless. Robert Forster was a great character actor and he usually played supporting roles but this is one of his high quality lead roles from his impressive career. Fred Williamson was a bad ass in Vigilante and this one of his non blaxploitation roles at the time where he dominated that sub-genre. He’s the one that pushes vengeance and fighting crime here. It’s one of my favorite characters from the action star. Joe Spinell was top notch as the sleazy laywer and he was always a quality villain. The street gang was mainly played by unknowns in this and they actually felt real rather than someone acting and going over the top with a crazy role. This one had an impressive supporting cast loaded with talented character actors like Steve James (American Ninha franchise), Carol Lynley, Rutanya Alda, Frank Pesce, Don Blakely, and Richard Bright. Vigilante had some entertaining violence and action, I really enjoyed the earlier chase scene with Fred. William Lustig didn’t direct much but he knew how to pick his projects when he did. This one has a fantastic tension filled and satisfying brutal finale. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Blue Underground! This 2160p (2.39:1) transfer with Dolby Vision and HDR10 looks stunning on it’s brand new 4K restoration. I haven’t seen this one since it’s original DVD home video release and this one blows it away. It’s almost like seeing it for the very first time here, this is a massive upgrade compared to every past home video release. It’s the best it’s ever looked anywhere. I really appreciate Blue Underground giving movies like this the 4K treatment. It’s a loaded a variety of audio options which includes English: Dolby Atmos, English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1, English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, French: Dolby Digital 2.0, Italian: Dolby Digital 2.0, and German: Dolby Digital 2.0 on this UHD. The audio here is a major improvement compared to anything that’s been released before. All of the dialogue is crystal clear, the vengeance is elevated, and the music has a killer boost to it. It has English SDH, French, Portuguese, & Spanish subtitles. VERY impressed with the technical aspects of this home video release, Blue Underground is all about quality when it comes to their releases.
Let’s discuss the special features from Blue Underground! This one is loaded with audio commentaries. “Audio Commentary #1” with director Bill Lustig and producer Andrew Garroni. They go over the shoot for the production. They chat about the promotion for it, the cast, locations, music, and many other subjects when it comes to Vigilante. “Audio Commentary #2” with director Bill Lustig, actors Robert Forster, Fred Williamson and Frank Pesce. They chat about their experience on the film & tell some hilarious stories about it. They just have fun while revisiting this and it has all kinds of information on it. “Audio Commentary #3” with film critics Troy Howarth and Nathaniel Thompson. This one goes over films from the 70’s and 80’s. They bring up the Death Wish franchise and revenge movies. They drop lots of knowledge about the sub-genre and the feature here. “Blue Collar Death Wish” is a brand new 25 minute featurette exploring this revenge flick. It has interviews with director Bill Lustig, writer Richard Vitere, producer Randy Jorgensen, actors Robert Forster, Rutanya Alda, and Frank Pesce. They chat about how the project was developed and how they got involved with Vigilante. They talk about their experience on it and tell some stories about the production. They go over it’s gritty shoot and working with director Bill Lusting. They bring up how humble and professional Robert Forster was. They filming at locations without permits and checks were bouncing for it every other week.
It had a following pretty quick and they joke that it was available at every truck stop at the time. “Urban Western” is a brand new 26 minute interview with composer Jay Chattaway. He chats about how he got started in music and earlier jobs that he had that lead him into scoring films. He chats about his first real gig and project as a composer which was Firepower. He brings up meeting Bill Lusting and doing the music for Maniac for him. He jokes telling his young child that he had to kill Rita tonight when they asked about his work. He goes over his experience with Vigilante. He goes into about his recording methods for it. He says Lusting didn’t bother him on it and tell him come up with his own stuff for the movie. He chats about Westerns and their music having a similar vibe with the theme for this. He mentions the film industry and how it’s changed over the years. He brings up that he hopes Bill Lusting directs again someday and they can work together again. It has all kinds of promotional material for Vigilante which includes 7 “Trailers”, 4 “TV Spots”, “Radio Spots”, “Promotional Reel”, and 2 “Photo Galleries” featuring posters and stills. It comes with a high quality lenticular slipcover, reversible artwork, a 20 page booklet, and a blu ray copy of the release. This needs added to your collection ASAP. It’s available everywhere right now, CHECK IT OUT!!!!