Written & Directed by David A. Prior
Story by Thomas Baldwin (credited as creating, so maybe the initial idea was a show?)
Starring David Carradine, Ana Rapagna, William Zipp, Robert Tessier, & D.C. Douglas
Release Date: November 9, 1989 (straight to video)
Running Time: 1hr 24min
In the not too distant future of 1991 (so far away!), crime has gotten so bad that big corporations have privatized law enforcement (like RoboCop, but way less exciting, and funny, and overall quality). Instead of regular police officers, there are bounty hunters from C.O.P.S. – Civilian Operated Police Systems (Clever right? Yeah… not really…), who act as judge, jury and executioner. The best of all the C.O.P.S. is John Tucker (Carradine), a man so jaded by all the crimes that he hides behind a shield of sarcasm and booze (mostly booze).
Besides a trusty six shooter, Tucker has a robotic glove that in addition to increasing the strength of the wearer also shoots a laser beam! He rarely uses this though, because he wants to play fair, not because the budget is limited on the amount of laser beam effects the production had. Don’t you dare think it’s because of that! Said glove was invented by Billy (Douglas), a wheelchair bound computer nerd, who spends the entire movie in a dark room lit only by his monitor (so… you know… like most nerds).
C.O.P.S. is run by Jason Adams (Zipp), who as turns out is a bit crooked! Shocking, I know! Who would’ve guessed that with his business suit and hair slicked so far back it’s practically a skull cap! Plus he’s got a bald henchman (Tessier), as any corrupt businessman should. He spends his days drinking, arguing with corrupt mafia priests(?), and putting guys in car crushers who tried to screw him over. [The guy playing Adams was also in Prior’s 1987 action schlockfest, Deadly Prey. It actually took me multiple viewings to realize it, as in the other film he has no mustache and his hair is permed out.]
One day, a plucky young journalist named Marian Sims (Rapagna) prepares a story with some incriminating evidence on Adams and his shady dealings. Naturally, Adams will not let this stand! So he puts a hit out on her that accuses her of treason. Tucker gets to her first, but a couple other C.O.P.S. show up looking to collect. Tucker easily (and slowly) takes one out and scares off the other. This, of course, angers Adams, who then puts a hit out on Tucker for $100,000!
This leads to a series of poorly staged and slow car chases, where shotgun bullets don’t have an affect on Tucker’s beat up truck (must be future metal! Or poor writing? You decide!), and leads one car being pushed over a ledge with no explosion! Yeah, they can’t afford many explosions it seems! Will Tucker be able to clear his name, protect Marian, and take down the corruption within the organization? Probably, everyone is pretty incompetent!
This, like many other bad movies, I became familiar with thanks to the good folks at RiffTrax (there’s also an amusing review from Red Letter Media), and it’s definitely among my favorite of theirs! Carradine looks so drunk and miserable, barely trying to deliver his lines with any sort of emotion. There is one scene where he’s parked in some random location at night, where Marion asks him how Billy ended up in a wheelchair. Turns out Tucker shot him by accident when Billy was just a kid, in that scene he seems to be trying a little. [I do wonder how Marion could even tell Billy was in a wheelchair. The video screen he appears on shows him from the shoulders up. You can’t even see the wheelchair. But whatever!]
The rest of the cast ranges from meh to trying some, with Zipp at times chewing the scenery as the main villain (when you play a corporate douche you might as well go all out). The action is all kinds of clunky, everyone moves like they’ve just downed a six pack (we know Carradine has!), and the most ridiculous part of the film is that the mechanical glove can also be remote controlled and do multiple things with the push of only a couple buttons! Again, why not just always have that thing on? I mean, I know why for budgetary reasons, but the movie could’ve at least come up with some bullshit reason for Tucker not to use it all the time.
Does it stink? Absolutely! Is it worth a watch? I would recommend the RiffTrax version for sure! By itself? Definitely with a group of friends to make jokes. It also has a sequel! Yay?