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When saxophonist Mike Teller's brother Mackie is killed before being able to deliver $500,000 to mob boss Jack Fisher, Mike is arrested as an accomplice and thrown into prison for five years. Upon his release, he finds Fisher has kidnapped his wife, Lisa, believing Mike has the stolen drug money. With the help of Mackie's old Vietnam war buddy, Harry Crawford, Mike and Harry rescue Lisa, but now have to escape the clutches of the mob in Harry's remote cabin. Will Jack Fisher retrieve his money or will Mike get his revenge? Written by
I really don't know what it is, but whenever I see Frank Zagarino's name in the credits of a movie, I simply can't resist the urge to watch it. It's not that Zagarino is a fine thespian or the best of action stars, but there is something about him that I trust. He nearly always brings something good to the table. There are exceptions, like `Armstrong,' but he's usually entertaining even in his lesser movies. I caught `The Revenger' on television late one night and decided to watch it. I was scared to do so at first, as it co-starred Oliver Reed. Now I like Reed, but this is 1990 we're talking about, and Reed was in a bit of a slump. In fact, I had watched his `Rage to Kill' a few weeks earlier on the same TV channel, and that movie was simply awful. But `The Revenger' was so much better. I'm glad I took the time to see it.
Zagarino plays Michael Keller, a saxophonist engaged to his girlfriend Lisa (I didn't recognize this actress, but whoever she is, she chose to be uncredited). One night after performing a gig, his brother Mackie (Arnold Vosloo) asks for a ride home. What he really wants is a ride so he can hide half a million dollars that he was entrusted by criminal Jack Fisher (Reed). After the money is hidden, a police chase ensues resulting in Mackie dead and Zagarino sent to prison for five years for accidentally killing a police officer with his car. Fast-forward five years and Michael is released and tries to get back to life with Lisa. Only trouble is, Fisher thinks Michael has his cash. He sends his goons to kidnap Lisa to extort the money from Michael, who must then figure out where Mackie may have hidden it. Then he gets help from Mackie's old army buddy Harry (Jeff Weston). They manage to rescue Lisa, but then they are pursued by Fisher and his thugs for a death to the finish.
`The Revenger' suffers from all of AIP's films, that being a miniscule budget and a thin plot. The budget especially holds it back and, I suspect, is the main reason why other people would shy away from it. But Cedric Sundstrom (whose other movies are not good) adds some nice touches that you don't usually see in this type of movie: Michael's saxophone playing, the gentle moments at the cabin, Fisher's reactions when someone close to him dies (though this is also due to Reed's good acting here), Harry's guilt over killing someone, the cop on Fisher's payroll that changes his mind about the whole deal (though his end is handled badly). And the final action scene, where the remaining villains surround Michael and Harry in a cabin in the woods, is really exciting. Oh, and don't forget to stick around during the credits for a good song by Steve McClintock. The movie's not perfect, though. The budget is still a problem and a final twist simply does not make sense and is not a very good twist anyway. But for those that will tolerate a B-movie once in awhile, you can't expect more from this one. You might even like it more than I did. Zantara's score: 6 out of 10.
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