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The Butcher
Scarecrow-883 December 2009
Warning: Spoilers
If you want to see Eric Roberts kill a lot of people, then 'The Butcher' is the movie for you. As ridiculous as they are, I have an affinity for these "one man army" movies where someone, on his own, must overcome a militia, in this case a mobster's goons.

Roberts is a mobster's "enforcer", the guy who is an expert at removing thorns from the ass of his boss. This mobster, Murdoch(Robert Davi) has his eyes on money laundering, and sets up Merle(Roberts)to take the fall regarding the theft of a heavy Reno crime family. It's actually a more complex scheme where Murdoch had plans to use a hot shot in his entourage, eyeing the "throne", Eddie(Jerry Trimble), to sweep in to steal the money from the owner of an expensive stripper club, Doyle(Paul Dillon), who uses the joint as a front for the money laundering operation. Merle is sent there to "collect money owed", foiling Murdoch's plan to have him iced and left to take the fall for "attempting to steal the cash for himself." This doesn't bode well with Merle, to put it mildly, and he decides to take a dropped duffel bag of money with him as a "retirement fund." Having that money is bad enough, but his decision to seek revenge against Murdoch places his life in serious jeopardy. In a spur of the moment, with nothing to lose, Merle asks a waitress at Murdoch's bar, Jackie(Irina Björklund)to come away with him.

Like the action sequences, Eric delivers his part in style, blasting hoods and looking great doing it. Nice supporting turns by Keith David as Larry Cobb, a loan shark demanding money owed to him by Merle, and Geoffrey Lewis, as Merle's weapons supplier, Naylor. Davi has the snake-in-the-grass mobster role he performs with ease, eliciting a dangerous aura when he's in a scene. Irina Björklund is a nice surprise as this young woman with an unfulfilled life who decides to take a chance, hopping in Merle's car for a little excitement, the threat of peril always near. There's violence aplenty, with bullets ripping apart bodies, the use of blood bags in heavy supply. Bokeem Woodbine is "Chinatown" Pete, a compulsive gambler who never loses, yet Merle, an obvious failure in the past, finds luck and earns some cash which will be used properly, perhaps something of substance provided by a man who kills men for a living. The final bloodbath, guns a blazing, goes on forever and delivers in spades. Roberts looks quite cool in his shades and '69 Dodge Charger. The plot is really just an excuse for Roberts to rid the world of mobster scum. Again, to reiterate, these movies are bound to make many an eye role, but it's like smack to a junkie, when it comes to my love for them..I can't help but gravitate towards them.
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Brilliant throwback style action movie!
tcarvelo1429 August 2009
Warning: Spoilers
This is a world of granite faced crusty badass mothers! These guys aren't pretty, in fact nobody in this movie is pretty. But they are tough, and what they lack in looks they more than make up for in ferocity of action.

Robert davi is fantastic as the pock marked faced lee j. cobb mob boss, he doesn't like Earl, Eric Roberts' character, but like all the people in this movie they don't give away what they're thinking or who they like, or even what side they're on, and when the chips are down and they're in trouble, they all offer to join the other team to save their bacon, anyway. The only character with any real shred of discernible decency at all is Eric Roberts, and he is at the losing end of a run of seriously bad luck - see the movie.

This film was constructed strangely, it was really slow, and it bugged me a bit, then I realized I really enjoyed the slow build up, because, brother let me tell you, when this movie goes bang, it takes large gruesome fragments of the san fernando valley with it. In glorious old school no CG style. The guns are real and sound real, the guts and splatter seems gruesomely real, too.

I don't normally write on these boards, most people with the time to write don't share my opinion anyway. But a complete miscreant made a comment about the guns, I had a sudden flash of wanting to use a 1897 shot gun to flatten his head, like Earl does in the movie. The firearms in this movie are cool, there are no modern guns at all, they are all beat up old collectors items (like the characters, i guess), the gun in the stripclub is a Browning 1919 BTW, wasn't in WW1 at all, and no bayonet on it, - but like I said, I'm as pathetic as him for getting annoyed about his review.

This film is uncompromising and fresh, the style is gritty and almost messy, Eric Roberts is stand alone, a fantastic actor, and Davi battles him good for the scenery chewing awards. Michael ironside gives a small speech on gangster etiquette at the beginning and I can now quote it verbatim, it's a small part but it stays with you!

earl's car deserved it's own credit in the titles, as it's a character unto itself.

The bottom line. As i watched this film, it felt interesting and new, but a little slow getting to it's point, then the shooting happened and a divine light came over me and it all made sense. I have watched it three more times and most assuredly get it now.

This is a blistering individual film, a head and shoulders above most of the steamy crXp in the theater. This film isn't about the plot, or the suspense or any of that stuff, it's about the characters and the world they live in and boy i enjoyed it.

Terry. C.
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The Butcher serves up some old school action.
actionfilm-27 November 2009
Having followed director Jesse V. Johnson's career since 2002's "The Honorable" it's amazing how quickly he has evolved into a top notch action director in such a relatively short period of time. The man has toiled away and paid his dues so it's nice to see his skill is becoming recognized by his peers, allowing him to recruit some great talent. His 2009 film The Butcher slowly builds up momentum towards a brutal action packed finale. It does so skillfully and all the while remained interesting, unlike say for example "The Kingdom" starring Jaime Foxx which had dull dialog and uninteresting characters for three quarters of the film trusting that the final action packed reel would make up for it (as terrific as it was, it did not). The Butcher on the other hand, has barely a fraction of the budget and fires on all cylinders, well scripted, great leads in Eric Roberts and Robert Davi, excellent cast (including several of the director's "stock" actors such as Keith David, Bokeem Woodbine, and even a cameo by the Pitfighter himself Dominiquie Vandenberg), grade A staged action with superb stunt work, one of the best musical scores I've heard in some time, even a beautiful Dodge Charger and eclectic mix of firearms. Recommended!
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Cool, Gritty, Hardboiled Action Movie
Bob_the_Hobo30 October 2010
Eric Roberts is Hench, a henchman for a crime boss played by Robert Davi. After several loyal years to Davi's character, things go wrong when Hench gets ambushed during a shakedown. Unlike most movies, however, Hench ends up with some big money and a girl (the beautiful Irina Bjorklund), and plots his bullet-riddled revenge against Davi and the men who crossed him.

"The Butcher" was pretty sweet. You can tell that the films director, the up and coming Jesse V. Johnson, is experienced behind the camera. He knows what an audience (in this case mostly male) wants to see; Action. And that's what you get with The Butcher, Eric Roberts shooting his way out of a life he's tired of squandering. The action is terrific, the sets are cool, and the overall effect is a nicely done action piece.

Roberts does a great job, convincingly playing a cool, badass henchman. For once he doesn't overplay the role, instead he's cool as can be, even when the bullets fly. Irina Bjorklund is a great up and comer as well. Davi fills a great performance as the film's antagonist, a major crime boss who's about to go down. Keith David, Bokeem Woodbine, and a small appearance by Michael Ironside round out the cast, all in terrific performances.

Overall a very cool action movie.
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Dark and gritty crime drama.
pulp_fiction4727 September 2010
I had no expectations for this movie. From the title I guessed it was a B-grade slasher flick of some kind.

What I got was something completely different.

The Butcher is a dark and gritty story about a man with nothing to lose, made in the style of the classic movies of the same kind in 70's.

Eric Roberts is good in the title role and most of the actors do their job quite well.

The action is raw and naked without being over the top and the overall feel and atmosphere is gritty and dirty.

I recommend this film for people who like gangster and action movies from the 70's.

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Kickass action movie that fizzles out
thomas-glass26 November 2009
Over-the-top violence with an incredulous plot line. Why the police never catch up to this guy just further eludes to the fairy-tale concept. Reminds me of a film noir minus the black and white. A lot of 1940's themes, cheesy lines and concepts set in the modern age. The movie is filled with violent bloodbaths mirroring that of a Steven Seagal fight scene. How this guy comes out on top is clearly some well executed choreography. It leaves the viewer in utter disbelief. It basically takes a turn for the worse and loses momentum like a lead balloon like the director gained a terrible drug addiction and just didn't care anymore. I almost feel like I've been violated. This one is probably a good film if you're on a psychedelic drug because it is all hype and little else.
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"Why did you never shoot that way for me?"
While Isaac Florentine has a death grip on the title of "best direct-to-video action director," Jesse V. Johnson is definitely a runner-up. More restrained than Florentine, Johnson displays a particular aptitude for character development and storytelling, and in no instance more so than the vehicle crafted for star Eric Roberts. While not the action-packed extravaganza that I had been hoping for, it is an excellent crime-thriller that proves the cinematic experience is possible on a small budget.

The story: Double-crossed by the underworld syndicate employing him, a washed-up debt collector (Roberts) strikes back by stealing a multimillion dollar take.

With a 113-minute runtime, THE BUTCHER is a longer-than-average low budgeteer, but makes it worth it by building up its characters and allowing the actors to amply show their acting chops. This investment, in turn, is made worth it by the seriously good cast. Cult star Eric Roberts has the same natural charisma as David Carradine or Lance Henriksen, making any scene he appears in entertaining by default. Villain Robert Davi is in a similar league and for all the seems like he was gearing up for a BOARDWALK EMPIRE audition. Also in the credits are the spectacular Irina Bjoerklund, Keith David, Geoffrey Lewis, Bokeem Woodbine, and Michael Ironside – occupying roles of varying sizes but all working towards my general impression of "Wow, I forgot that movies like this could have good acting in them!" The story they perform is a slow burner, sometimes too slow for my liking, but the atmosphere it creates along the way is excellent and its avoidance of cliché is welcome.

The one bad thing about the story is that it comes at the expense of the action, which – despite the claims of the DVD case – is not evident "from start to finish." Uncharacteristically for the director's movies, there is very little hand-to-hand content, which is disappointing considering the supporting cast's inclusion of Dominquie Vandenberg, Dan Southworth, and Jerry Trimble (who gives a surprisingly wicked dramatic performance). Its focus is on gunplay, but you'll have to wait until the second half to see anything substantial. There are three big shootouts, and while most of them lack overall creativity, each features at least a couple moments of cool absurdity. Roberts shoots through a brick wall with a shotgun to dispatch an enemy, and later grabs a decorative Browning machinegun to take on a club. The final shootout in a bar makes up for a lot with its hyper-violent choreography; it's worth waiting for.

When I think of "bad" B-movies of the pre-2000s, I think of poorly-made shlock. When I think of "bad" B-movies of the 2000s and beyond, I imagine well-made but dramatically vapid shlock. It's nice to come across a movie that makes such a point of avoiding both pitfalls, and it's good to know that there are indeed filmmakers out there who take this particular tier of filmmaking seriously. While I really wish there had been more action, THE BUTCHER is worth at least the price of a rental.
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Great throw-back to the basics
TM-27 February 2016
I gave this a solid 9 for me. I REALLY enjoyed it. I have watched it several times, I liked the story of an over the hill guy who needs a break and isn't getting it. His mobster boss considers him past it and treats him with disrespect. Then the movie takes off and is as merciless as you will get. I watched the unrated version and it was definitely extra gritty and bloody. I own both and even without the ultra violence the R vision is a good watch. Eric Roberts plays his character to a tee and we can't help but feel for him as he navigates thru the game set in play. I deliberately stayed away from spoilers since its got a few twists and turns well seeing for the first time watching the movie.
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I see where they were going, good try.
nathan-yeo11 August 2009
I like British gangster films over American ones especially urban they're all feeling sorry for some gangster who's trying to get out of the business. Our boy here isn't trying to get out of the business, well he wasn't until a quarter million dollars landed at his feet. now he wants to grab the waitress and take it on the road. only problem is he stole money from his mob, that was stolen from the mafia. So now everyone wants him dead. the characters were believable, a lil more Micheal ironside would have helped.

They stole a lot of stuff from several all-rite gangster films to make a mediocre gangster film. There was some "Saving Grace", the reflection and repose of "Boiling Point" and then they tried to add in some John WOO type shoot-outs.

Here's a problem, who ever did this had too much pull with the props department, mobsters, and gangsters, don't have gunfights with "Bayonet Fixed, Belt-Fed" weapons. He even shot-up a bar carrying a WWI era 30cal machine gun.
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Heroic Bloodshed in the West
adrenokrome13 May 2010
Warning: Spoilers
This review contains spoilers!!!!!! It is so refreshing to have a solid shoot em up (the only other movie maker I've watched that loves guns as much as the director is John Woo) with heart and that's what makes the Butcher stand out from other flicks of this genre, it makes it so much more than just an action film. The script has such a good sense of humour, the players all come together, the banter between Eric Roberts, Keith David, Robert Davi and Geoffrey Lewis just oozed cool (ooze used in a positive sense – had that hard boiled noir feel) and there were those little touches like the money launderer putting the pin back in the grenade (commenting that he'd do it when his henchman offers), the horrific nature of fire fights (not everyone dies from a clean wound through the heart at high noon, the panic/ mania / fear, fingers get shot off, shotguns and heads equate to Bolognese). Yes there is a level of overkill, but then we deserve it, its the finale! I enjoyed the soundtrack, nice classical background fare providing that calm from the storm.

The bittersweet ending worked perfectly, so many films about betrayal and redemption can become utterly nihilistic, but the Butcher is not about that, it felt like it was more about learning from mistakes, keep living until you're done and try to do the decent thing in indecent circumstance. That's what heroes should be about, giving hope or making a difference. But then maybe I just love the old school heroic bloodshed movies. If you enjoyed Johnny To's Exiled, then check this out.

The director Jesse V Johnson's style is constantly evolving and he just keeps getting better.

Bring on Charlie Valentine Mr Johnson! TTFN
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Eric Roberts and a bunch of character actors in a meaningless movie..
merklekranz3 August 2013
"The Butcher" gets high marks for a high body count, in other words lots of bang bang, but little else. Eric Roberts is his usual dependable quirky self, and it's nice to see Robert Davi and Geoffrey Lewis getting some work. This is however a very shallow movie, with everything revolving around the ultra violent scenes. The whole film has almost zero meaning. Eric Roberts never changes his sport coat throughout the entire movie, and really the movie never changes either. It is nothing more than just another weak plotted shoot em up, with little or no character development. I say avoid unless you need to see a bunch of seldom used actors in a meaningless movie. - MERK
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P.S. Paaskynen18 October 2010
The Butcher has a decent cast and a promising story line, but fails to deliver due to a crummy script and too unrealistic action scenes.

The wording of the plot outline is indicative of the incoherent bombastic dialogue in this film, it makes practically all actors appear wooden and insincere.

A lot of the budget was thrown at bloody shootouts, but no attention was paid to making them even a little realistic. In most shootouts the henchmen just stand upright blazing away without seeking cover or even actually trying to hit the protagonist. In another shootout the bad guys insist on shooting above the furniture behind which the hero is hiding. Not even film goons are that stupid.

These flaws ruin what otherwise could have been a palatable action film.
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Lazy crime drama.
Michael O'Keefe7 October 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Jesse Johnson writes and directs THE BUTCHER, a crime drama starring Eric Roberts as Merle Hench nicknamed 'The Butcher' in his younger days as a promising prize fighter. For the last twenty years, he has been a mob enforcer. His boss(Robert Dayl)figures its about time for Merle to slow down a bit, maybe retire from the business. Merle is set up to take the fall for a botched heist worth millions to a rival mob boss. The Butcher's instincts tell him something is very wrong and instead of disappearing, he decides its time to fight back in return for being put in the trap.

Roberts seems to play it too cool. His character definitely has faith in himself. His love interest is played by the winsome Irina Bjorklund. In support are: Geoffrey Lewis, Paul Dillon, Jerry Trimble and Michael Ironside. Not a bad choice for a lazy day.
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