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‘Excessive Force’

By Richard Harrington
Washington Post Staff Writer
May 17, 1993


Jon Hess
Thomas Ian Griffith;
Lance Henriksen;
Tom Hodges;
James Earl Jones;
Charlotte Lewis;
Burt Young
Under 17 restricted

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"Excessive Force" is a klepto-thriller that clumsily borrows from so many sources it's unlikely to be accused of either imitation or imagination. From a loner cop with a short fuse (Thomas Ian Griffith) and a bad mob boss (repulsive Burt Young) who always gets off on technicalities, to the kindly senior mentor (James Earl Jones) and an obviously corrupt police captain (Lance Henriksen), "Excessive Force" is populated with stereotypes stumbling through a plot that never made it past synopsis.

Griffith plays Chicago cop Terry Connor, who seems fixated on the mob. When a briefcase with $3 million disappears during a botched drug bust, mob boss Sal DiMarco (Young) assumes Connor and his squad have stolen it; soon little brother Dylan (Tom Hodges) is killed and another brother (Washington actor Tony Todd) is blown up. Then DiMarco is killed and suspicions naturally point to Connor. Various factions chase each other around, shoot off mouths and guns and engage in balletic martial arts pieds-a-tetes. Griffith always wins these particular encounters, no matter how badly outnumbered (by now, you'd think the mob would invest in a dojo). Griffith played the bad guy in "Karate Kid III" and he tries to create an edge to his performance. If he were on skates, he'd be flat on the ice.

There's also gratuitous nudity involving the only two female characters in the film, a lousy generic soundtrack and a herring so red it glows like lava. Hack director Jon Hess ("Watchers" and "Alligator 2") is right at home here, but that's hardly a virtue.

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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