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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

I was about to . . .

Author: inspectors71 from Fly-Over Country
20 January 2016

render a snarky judgment of 1974's The Death Squad by writing "The Cliché Squad" in the summary box. I was going to ridicule this cheapo TV movie as an inevitable rip-off of Magnum Force. I was going to point out the pablum-level plotting, the cardboard characterizations, the neon sign pointing at Melvyn Douglas as the Hal Holbrook character in Magnum Force.

In other words, I was going to dismiss The Death Squad as the typical junk put out by ABC for its "Movie of the Week" series way back when.

Then it dawned on me that I didn't know who all was involved in supporting the vigilante cops. I started thinking how this may have made a passable series (c'mon, every other episode of The Movie of the Week was a pilot or some sort of pitch to the network suits). I found myself feeling comfortable with Claude Akins, Ken Tobey, and Mark Goddard. I wanted to see more of a very young, very charming Michelle Phillips.

The Death Squad was junk, but the sort of junk you want to browse through at a garage sale.

And then there was Robert Forster, an actor with a reputation of doing journeyman work portraying the lead with an earnestness that I found admirable.

So, my prejudice against this sort of Spelling-Goldberg trash may have had legitimate roots (right, Starsky and Hutch?), but after The Death Squad was over, I found myself a smidgen sad. This was the stuff I grew up on in the 70s. The movie was just about as good as NBC's Police Story.

Not a complete waste of 70 minutes.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Not a "Magnum Force" remake!

Author: capnhawk51 from United States
20 July 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The Death Squad is not a remake of Clint Eastwood's second Dirty Harry movie, Magnum Force. Magnum Force was theatrically released on December 25, 1973. The Death Squad premiered on TV exactly two weeks later on January 8, 1974. If this was a remake, it probably made history because I can't see anyway possible that the story was written, actors cast, film shot and edited and then broadcast on TV in 14 days. Somebody, please, tell me how that was done! It is readily apparent that both films were conceived, written and filmed simultaneously. So Magnum Force hits the theaters two weeks before The Death Squad is aired and people are saying it's a remake? C'mon.

The Death Squad is an entertaining flick, especially for a "Made For TV" movie, which were a dime a dozen back in the early 1970's. It boasts a good storyline and a top-notch cast of solid, veteran actors. As far as I'm concerned, it can hold its own with Magnum Force, even without the gratuitous violence. Worth checking out just for the entertainment value.

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Great...if "Magnum Force" hadn't already come out the year before this film.

Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
25 October 2016

The 1973 film "Magnum Force" was a Dirty Harry film where a small group of cops began dispensing justice to criminals who somehow beat the system. In other words, these cops became judge, jury and executioners of folks who just needed killing, in their opinions. Despite Harry sympathizing, he was a good cop and eventually brings down this group of rogue cops. Now, in 1974, pretty much the same sort of plot has been recapitulated in "The Death Squad" enjoyable but completely unoriginal installment from "The ABC Movie of the Week".

The film begins with some cops killing a scum-bag who was able to avoid prison due to some technicality. Soon, Eric (Robert Forster) is recruited by the Police Commissioner to investigate this and a string of other recent murders that MIGHT be the work of rogue cops. However, Eric isn't thrilled with the idea since he had been thrown off the force some time earlier. But they want him because at least in his case they can be sure he's not involved in the killings. Soon (WAY TOO SOON), Eric is invited to become part of this murder squad...and not surprisingly, when they ultimately figure out he's working for the Commissioner, he's dead meat unless some sort of miracle occurs.

The best thing about this film is Robert Forster and his excellent performance. But this alone cannot make up for the script that was essentially a copy of "Magnum Force" much so that I am sure it irritated many audience members as well as the folks who made up this previous film. Watchable and enjoyable but hardly original.

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

The Derivative Squad

Author: Coventry from the Draconian Swamp of Unholy Souls
29 May 2010

What an incredibly crazy and pointless idea to do a TV-remake of the Clint Eastwood smash-hit "Magnum Force" not even one year after its release? That's like stopping at McDonald's for a burger right after you had a perfectly fine steak diner. This is probably also the reason why "The Death Squad" is completely unknown and that I could pick up an ex- rental copy for $0.20 at a flea market. Try purchasing "Magnum Force" for that price… As said, the plot of "The Death Squad" is pretty much identical to that of "Magnum Force", except of course that the emphasis more lies on the actual vigilante coppers instead of on the Dirty Harry trying to stop them. The movie boosts a multi-talented and experienced cast, which kind of makes you wonder why all these acclaimed names bother to appear in such a low-keyed TV-production. Perhaps they all thought the aforementioned Dirty Harry flick was too gratuitously violent? The lead roles are for Robert Forster ("Alligator" and "The Don is Dead") and Claude Akins (that really creepy guy from "The Farm") and in the supportive cast we find names like Melvyn Douglas, Jesse Vint and even that cherubic blond singer from the band The Mammas and the Pappas. Forster plays the dishonorably discharged inspector Eric Benoit, dragged back aboard of the police team by the commissioner himself because his city is suffering from a so-called death squad; a bunch of vigilante cops that "correct" the mistakes made by courthouses and annihilate the scum that walk the streets. Benoit is asked to investigate because he's an old-fashioned righteous police officer, but also the members of the death squad – including his direct partner and even his mentor – want him to join them. "The Death Squad" certainly isn't a bad movie. There are a couple of noteworthy moments of action and suspense, most of them thanks to Akins' creepy charisma and scary grimaces, but the plot is simply too predictable and derivative. There are literally hundreds of obscure but genuinely worthwhile made-for-TV thrillers available from the early 70's, so don't waste your time on this one.

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

The essence of the bad '70s TV movie

Author: xterminal from Strongsville, OH
22 January 2001

Falk, a veteran director on a number of TV series ranging from Get Smart! to The Colbys, first tried his hand at feature-length action filmmaking in 1974 with Death Squad. The box blazons "in the tradition of Magnum Force!" Tradition? Please.

Robert Forster (Alligator) plays a straight cop busted from a crooked force, re-recruited in secret to infiltrate a gang of vigilante police led by Claude Akins. (Does that seem a stretch to you, too?) Forster falls in love in record time with his ex-partner's daughter, played by Mamas and Papas alum Michelle Phillips, and complications ensue. Forster's a passable actor, but Eastwood he ain't. Phillips has gotten a lot better since 1974. And, well, Sheriff Lobo heading up a band of renegade officers is just plain too much. * 1/2

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0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

A poor remake of the Clint Eastwood/Hal Holbrook MAGNUM FORCE

Author: Peter22060 from United States
27 October 2002

The low ratings for this made for TV film which cameos Melvyn Douglas are accurate. This film should be viewed by movie students to see how movies can either be improved or how the original outshines the copy.

You do not have to be a sophisticated movie lover to see the difference between DEATH SQUAD and MAGNUM FORCE. You should compare films like TO BE OR NOT TO BE with Jack Benny and Carole Lombard (1942) with the more slapstick production of Mel Brooks. Ernst Lubitsch in his direction supplied subtle nuances to make a sophisticated comedy, Mel Brooks i "Pie in the Face". This makes for a complex but comprehensive understanding of what is the difference between a good film and a film classic.

DEATH SQUAD was interesting for me, so that I could relate the comparison as stated above.

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