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Extreme Prejudice (1987)

The Zombie Unit.

Extreme Prejudice is directed by Walter Hill and collectively written by John Milius, Fred Rexer, Deric Washburn and Harry Kleiner. It stars Nick Nolte, Powers Boothe, Maria Conchita Alonso, Michael Ironside, Rip Torn, Clancy Brown, William Forsythe and Matt Mulhern. Music is by Jerry Goldsmith and cinematography by Matthew F. Leonetti.

Well it’s a good day for a killing.

Walter Hill homages and parodies the splinter of action cinema that encompasses the grizzled law enforcer tracking the bad guy, who in this case, was once a friend. That’s the basic set up for Hill’s brooding and bloody Extreme Prejudice. Action takes place down on the US/Mexico border, Ranger Jack Benteen (Nolte) is hunting his one time pal - and the man he shares his woman’s love with – Cash Bailey (Boothe), who has taken up drug smuggling as his employment of choice. Complicating matters is that there is a gang of ex-forces specialists in the town ready to raid the bank for some funds and documents to nail Bailey. Loyalties are tested, twists, turns and bloody shocks do follow.

Much of the film’s strength is gained from the casting, it’s a roll call of macho performers who combined make up a CV with enough beef to feed the third world. Even Alonso as the sole female of note fits the requisite toughness exam (she would do The Running Man this same year and go on to star in Predator 2). Much of the narrative involves brooding and tough talk, a slow burn approach from Hill who adds some meat to the bones of the main characters. Photography is pleasing, with actual locations shimmering on the screen, and Goldsmith’s score is a pulser that is a fore runner to his score for Total Recall 3 years later.

At times it’s offbeat, at others it’s gripping in its sweaty intensity, and then there is the balletic violence which Hill has proven himself to be an astute purveyor of, crowned here by his homage to Peckinpah’s glorious finale in The Wild Bunch.

Lean and tough with bodies and butchness everywhere. 7.5/10

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