Bill Lustig is well known for horror and exploitation films and one of his best movies of the 1980’s was Vigilante starring Robert Forster and Fred Williamson.
An effective action revenge thriller, Vigilante follows the story of Eddie, who believes in the law but soon changes his mind about how useless they are at dealing with crime after his wife is assaulted and his young son murdered. Even the corrupt judge at the trial is so lenient that a furious Eddie loses his temper and is jailed for contempt of court.
Meanwhile, Fred Williamson as Nick, has set up a gang to deal with the punks on the streets of New York showing no mercy on the scum and criminals. After Eddie’s tragedy, the two join forces to get revenge on those responsible.
Some may say this is a poor man’s Death Wish and while similar, this would do the film a great injustice. The film has an excellent supporting cast which includes Joe Spinell, Carol Lynley, and the legendary Woody Strode in a great cameo.
The film holds no punches and is surprisingly violent in places. We are taken right into the land of the drug dealers and pimps and cheers when they get what they deserve. The action scenes are very well shot and the pacing and script are excellent. One must also mention the score by Jay Chatterway, with lots of electronics, it really adds to the atmosphere.
Vigilante serves as an excellent reminder of a rundown, dangerous New York City that existed at that time.
The film has had a number of great releases on both 4K UHD and Blu-ray. Blue Underground released it on Blu-ray for the first time in September 2010, and again on Ultra HD in December 2020, boasting a new 16-bit restoration from the original camera negative, HDR10 and Dolby Vision, and a new Dolby Atmos soundtrack. The Blu-ray was released in the UK by 88 Films. Both the Blu-ray and UHD have fantastic transfers and come recommended as well as boasting some good extras.
An exploitation classic that comes fully recommended.
8 OUT OF 10