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Overall Rating
3

Awesome: 0%
Worth A Look: 11.11%
Average77.78%
Pretty Bad: 11.11%
Total Crap: 0%

1 review, 3 user ratings


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Fighting Mad
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by The Ultimate Dancing Machine

"OK actioner from Roger Corman and Co."
3 stars

1976: Bespectacled Peter Fonda is still getting mileage out of his turn in "Easy Rider," plowing through a series of chiefly fair-to-middling action flicks. Young director Jonathan Demme, a decade-and-a-half away from "Silence of the Lambs" and Oscar glory, is still making produce for Roger Corman's sausage factory. Join Subject A with Subject B, and you get "Fighting Mad," a minor footnote in '70s cinema, basically nothing special but certainly not bad as far as these ass-kicking epics go.

Fighting Mad plunges the viewer straightway into Billy Jack territory, as our hero Fonda goes after an evil (of course) land developer in a sleepy rural town. It's another foray into the little-man-battling-for-social-justice genre, exactly the sort of flick that went over like gangbusters on the drive-in circuit in the American South back in the '70s. But it's better made than most.

Fonda, true to the formula, is called upon to kick some ass--often two or three at a time, natch--roughly every five minutes or so. It's a solid enough performance, but if you ask me Fonda's not entirely suited to the action-hero role. It's not just those goofy glasses. He's such a laid-back presence on the screen that he seems to have trouble summoning self-righteous rage--whenever he flies into action, grinding his teeth and staring bullets at his opponent, he looks less like an avenger than some guy throwing a hissy fit.

On the directorial front, Mr. Demme proves to be up to the task, filling the screen with plenty of montages featuring various objects getting blown up. (And I'd swear they were reusing the same shots over and over, a cost-cutting gimmick not unknown to the Roger Corman school of production.) Demme's script does a pretty good job of making the characters three-dimensional. Fonda's rocky relationships with his father (the late John Doucette) and his girlfriend (goose-necked Lynn Lowry) are more carefully developed than is customary in B-movies. Even at this stage in his career, Demme seems to have had a sure hand at the helm, and the film's climax even seems to foreshadow the sneaking-around-the-darkened-basement finale in Silence of the Lambs.

It's ultimately an ode of sorts to pure beer-guzzling machismo and working-class honor. When he's not beating the hell out of people, our hero bonds with his son, makes out like a racehorse with his girlfriend, stands up for the oppressed, does what's right for his family, and finally rides off into the sunset, wrongs righted and mission accomplished.

You've seen this movie before--and if you're a B-movie nut like me, you've seen it many times before--but it's a competently put-together little flick, worth watching on a rainy Sunday.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=5017&reviewer=223
originally posted: 02/28/01 18:52:35
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User Comments

5/20/16 action mmovie fan engrossing and exciting modern western 4 stars
10/12/14 PAUL SHORTT MEDIOCRE, VIOLENT VIGILANTE WESTERN 2 stars
8/24/01 J Baker Would love to, but can't get hold of the video and no one seems to be able to locate a copy 3 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  02-May-1976 (R)
  DVD: 07-Oct-2003

UK
  N/A

Australia
  N/A


Directed by
  Jonathan Demme

Written by
  Jonathan Demme

Cast
  Peter Fonda
  Gino Franco
  Harry Horthup
  Philip Carey
  Noble Willingham
  Scott Glenn



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