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Robert Z'Dar returns as the super cop, turned maniac cop; Matt Cordell in this surprisingly good sequel to the surprisingly good 1988 horror-thriller, Maniac Cop. This time, however, he's not alone in his fight against the police force as he's found an accomplice; the local serial killer. This movie is probably the quintessential late-night video rental in the late 80's to early 90's - not only is it pure B-grade schlock rubbish, but it's a sequel to pure B-grade schlock rubbish; and you don't get much more B-movie than that! (except maybe a second sequel, of course).
The directing and writing/producing team of William Lustig and Larry Cohen return to helm this movie, and do a good job as they did in the first. The acting in this film isn't good, in fact, certain scenes are downright embarrassing; but you don't go into a sequel to an 80's schlock fest expecting great acting, so it's forgivable. The majority of the cast from the first film met grisly ends, but the two survivors; B-movie god, Bruce Campbell, and Laurene Landon reprise their roles. Unfortunately, however, their roles in the movie are little more than cameo appearances; Bruce Campbell in particular is not at his charismatic best. In The Evil Dead films, and a lot of his small cameos in bigger films, Bruce approaches his roles with great heart and gusto and you can really tell that he's enjoying himself; but here, I was getting the impression that he couldn't be bothered. I got this impression somewhat with Bruce's performance the first film too. Of course, his role in the Maniac Cop films is nothing like the Ash that we all know and love, but B-movie fans have come to expect a certain kind of performance from Bruce and that wasn't what he gave in the first movie. Naturally, his mere presence is enough to make a film a must see, though. Laurene Landon enjoys herself a bit more, and gets to use the greatest melee weapon in the history of movies; the chainsaw. The chainsaw is such a brilliant weapon, it almost takes on a life of it's own. Any movie that utilises the chainsaw commands your respect, even if it only gets a brief appearance as it does in this movie. The only other thing that returns from the first is the incredible tagline; 'You have the right to remain silent...forever', which is quite simply; one of the best taglines ever written.
The rest of the cast is new to the series. Robert Davi, who is a very good actor, takes over Bruce Campbell as the new leading man. Davi portrays his character; a hard-bitten New York with a gruff voice and no messing persona brilliantly, and very much looks the part. Also new is Claudia Christian, who pretty much does what Laurene Landon did in the first film, and Leo Rossi enters the fold as Matt Cordell's newfound friend, who also happens to enjoy strangling strippers. Also; watch out for blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameos from Danny Trejo and Sam Raimi.
Just like in the first film, a foreboding New York atmosphere is created, which lends the film a creepy and distinct atmosphere, particularly in the nighttime scenes. Also like the first film, the sequel features several instances of lovely black humour, portrayed best by Maniac Cop saving a man from a parking ticket, and then taking the traffic officer away...literally, on the back of his crane truck. The film also doesn't let up for a second; it stays entertaining for the duration and the action comes thick and fast, which ensures that the film stays entertaining. There is also a theme of justice, and it's pitfalls, which is heavily referred to at several points in the movie. Of course, this point is lost somewhat under the violent gun battles; but the fact that the movie is actually trying to convey a point is admirable from a film that you wouldn't expect any kind of meaning from.
Overall, Maniac Cop 2 is a lovely piece of B-grade cinema. As a technical project, it's pretty worthless, but it's very entertaining and fans of this sort of film will find lots to like about it. As a fan of the original, this sequel satisfied me and therefore I recommend this to anyone that is also a fan of the original.
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