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Overall Rating

Awesome: 8.97%
Worth A Look: 20.51%
Average: 19.23%
Pretty Bad: 14.1%
Total Crap37.18%

5 reviews, 48 user ratings

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Escape from L.A.
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by Brian McKay

"Every bit as Cheesy as I remember – but also a lot more Fun"
3 stars

I don’t think most people gave ESCAPE FROM L.A. enough credit when it first came out - including me. Maybe I was expecting too much from it at the time. I hoped that our beloved Snake Plissken would emerge as a full-fledged and franchise-ready blockbuster action hero. Instead, he merely grunted, grimaced, and growled his way through a glorified B-movie that was more of a retread than a true sequel. However, after seeing it again for a second time, those are precisely the reasons I enjoyed it so much more.

Snake is Back!” the film’s tag-line exuberantly declares – and while many elements of this film disappointed Escape from New York fans, surely the return of Kurt Russell as “Call me Snake” Plissken could not be one of them. Snake is definitely back – maybe a bit older, a bit more grizzled, and a bit long in the tooth. But he can still fit into his threads from the last movie (Russell indeed begins this film wearing the very same costume he wore in its predecessor), he can still kick ass, and he’s still Snake Fuckin’ Plissken – you dig?

After his escape from the Manhattan Penal Colony in the last movie, Snake ends up in the clink again fifteen years later. A lot has happened in those fifteen years, including a massive 9.0 quake that caused the greater Los Angeles area to break from the coast of California and become a devastated island wasteland. As if that weren’t bad enough, a right wing extremist and fundamentalist has become President and decided to “take out the trash” in America by declaring that all “undesirables” be deported to . . . guess where? Among the new rules are: No smoking, drinking, swearing, eating red meat, or sex outside of approved marital relations. Hmmm . . . maybe this should have been called Escape from Salt Lake. (Utah residents wishing to now send hate mail may do so at

Well, the President’s spoiled teenage daughter gets the rebellious bug up her butt and decides to steal the targeting system to a high-tech satellite-based weapons system, and defect to LA, where she hooks up with the biggest gang leader, Cuervo Jones (George Corraface, sporting a Che Guevara motif’) .

Snake gets a case of deja-vu when he is offered a deal. Get into L.A., retrieve the targeting device, and get back out – all in under ten hours. As incentive, he is infected with a virus that will kill him if he doesn’t return to receive the antidote in time.

Sound familiar so far? It should. Despite a few new wrinkles (and a much cooler ending), this is basically a case of same plot, different city. Many scenes are practically identical, but whether you want to attribute it to fondness for the source material, or just plain laziness, either way – it works. You get to see Snake throw out the same kind of amusing one-liners, deal with the same basic situations, and run into the requisite oddball characters, including Steve Buscemi as “Map to the stars Eddie” (a sleazy reprisal of Ernest Borgnine’s “cabby” character), and best of all, Pam Grier as “Hershe”, a transsexual kingpin who Snake formerly had dealings with when Hershe was a man known as “Carjack” Malone (any relation to Karl, I wonder?)

So yes, it’s a rehash of the last movie. But so was Evil Dead 2, and look how good that turned out. Coincidentally, Bruce Campbell has a small (too small) cameo in the film as well, along with the likes of Peter Fonda and a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment featuring Isaac Hayes (who played the Duke in the last film). A rehash it may be, but goddamn, it’s a fun one. A bit laggy in places, perhaps, but during its “on” moments it is gleeful to behold. Like the first film, the effects are fairly cheesy but a bit more polished, and Snake gets to kill at least twice as many guys as last time, which doesn’t hurt. But the most enjoyable aspect of all, at least as a former Los Angelino, is seeing the various landmarks (or rather, their non-litigious doppelgangers), laid waste, including the Chinese Theater (now a bordello), the Beverly Hills Hotel, the Queen Mary, and best of all, a final bullet-filled showdown on Main Street of the “Happy Kingdom”

While the DVD digital transfer is pretty clean, the current version suffers from an abysmal dearth of special features, except for an amusing theatrical trailer. Come on, Kurt and John, not even a commentary? Throw us a bone, here! Since Russell and Carpenter have done commentary tracks on most of their other collaborations, I can only hope that this oversight will be addressed in a later edition.

Maybe ESCAPE FROM L.A. wasn’t as awesome as everyone had hoped, but looking back, it was nowhere near as dismal as everyone made it out to be, either. So it didn’t catapult Snake Plissken into a Vin Dieselesque franchise. However, it did remain true to its roots as a highly campy yet highly entertaining popcorn flick, and for that it deserves some props. I would like to see one more installment, though – ESCAPE FROM S.F. There are definitely some asses in this town that could benefit from the heel of Snake’s boot.

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originally posted: 04/13/03 14:23:33
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2013 Boston SciFi Film Festival For more in the 2013 Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

12/29/17 morris campbell cheesy fun 3 stars
4/21/14 Chidwell The "bad" special effects are a huge part of the fun. 4 stars
6/08/12 Monday Morning Tom McNulty was in it. That's good enough for me, the other Tom McNulty. 5 stars
9/14/09 Jeff Wilder Great purely fun B movie 4 stars
1/03/08 mrsinister A much better cast than the story deserved. Oh well 3 stars
11/02/07 Skip A stylish thrill ride with an ending that makes it all worth it. Grows on you. 5 stars
12/03/06 David Pollastrini great action with a few comedy bits 5 stars
11/03/06 AJ Muller great fun,clever satire,and John Carpenter,not to mention Snake Fucking Plissken AGAIN. 5 stars
9/13/06 Booksworm Makes a great double feature with Escape from New York 4 stars
6/11/06 San Lamar crap! pure crap! 1 stars
1/06/06 JM Synth Basically a big-budget remake. Okay, with some great satire, but shoulda been more fun 3 stars
12/01/05 Blutarsky All you naysayers are wrong. Get a clue guys. It's called satire. 5 stars
5/15/05 Indrid Cold A fairly cool hero makes it just barely watchable. 2 stars
1/17/05 Jeff Anderson Sad to say, a big disappointment from J. Carpenter & K. Russell. Not up to the original. 2 stars
12/06/04 Mr. Kags Escape from L.A is a piece of shiat. Don't even compare to NEW YORK 1 stars
10/18/04 Ian Worst fight scenes ever...What mr Pink said! 2 stars
4/11/04 American Slasher Goddess Watchable,but it doesn't come close to the original. 3 stars
11/28/03 john well there is Snake - which is good but there is also a terrible movie you have to endure 2 stars
9/27/03 Mr. Hat Music is OK, cast is cool, ending is classic. A bit 2 overdone & fake, though. 4 stars
5/22/03 mr. Pink Unbelievably bad sequel to an oriiginal that wasn't THAT good anyway. 1 stars
4/15/03 The Talking Elbow This could have been so much better, but l give it 5 stars cause of the ending, GREATending 5 stars
4/14/03 GMan Sucky villian. Snake rocks. New York version beats the West, hands down. 3 stars
4/14/03 Jack Sommersby A basic rehash of the original. It's cheesy, with a crushing bore of a villain. 2 stars
4/06/03 y2mckay Okay, it's cheesy as fuck and far inferior. But come on, it has SNAKE PLISSKEN 3 stars
2/11/03 spacecowboy HAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHHAAHAHHA >:(.....TAKE ME NOW GOD. 1 stars
6/19/02 Charles Tatum Truly awful 1 stars
12/24/01 Jake I'm a fan of Carpenter but this movie has nothing worth understanding. Bad effects also. 1 stars
10/11/01 Andrew Carden Not As Good As The Original. 3 stars
8/06/01 E-Funk Carpenter fans understand, others need not apply. Great ending. 5 stars
7/15/01 Rampage I wanted to whomp Russell's arse after watching that horrid tripe! Jeez! 1 stars
7/07/01 TLsmooth "Hi, I'll have a shit burger with extra Escape from LA please." 1 stars
7/06/01 Craig Blanchard HOW DOES SHIT LIKE THIS GET MADE??!! The World is mad! 1 stars
7/03/01 taj One of Carpenter's worst. A few cool ideas lost amidst a cheezy screenplay. 2 stars
6/02/01 Thrillhouse laughably bad, make American History X look like Judge Dredd 2 stars
4/24/01 Spetters The supporting cast make this shit bearable. 2 stars
3/27/01 Jun I was too stupid to sit through this crap... 1 stars
3/04/01 Rael A failure even as a B-grade explotation flick. I saw it for free and felt ripped off. 2 stars
10/26/99 Karahde Khan If you've seen the 1st, you've seen this. If you haven't seen the 1st, skip this anyway. 1 stars
8/20/99 Japtalian I wanted to kick Kurts ass after I saw this piece of shit! 1 stars
12/15/98 Binky Shitful effort. 1 stars
10/27/98 Silent Rob Misfired idea whose original fire flickers through momentarily. Loved the duster at the end 3 stars
10/24/98 Vincent Oh Mr. Carpenter- what happened? You used to make good films 1 stars
9/16/98 Lonatic One of the worst sequels next to the 'Blues Bros. 2000'. Lame special fx! 1 stars
9/08/98 Swan If you aren't 'in sync' with Carpenter's idea, you won't line it. It's better, 2nd viewing. 3 stars
8/28/98 Mister Whoopee Snake Plisken is an anagram of "total and complete bastard". 2 stars
8/26/98 Pete I now know why Elvis shot tv's. I think AJ Langer could be good in a decent role. 2 stars
8/25/98 Miss Stress did this movie really need to be made? i don't think so 1 stars
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  09-Aug-1996 (R)



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