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In this awesomely awful late eighties action epic, Burt Reynolds plays a former CIA agent named Richard Malone who doesn't like to tell people his first name. After burning up his ID card and bailing on the feds, he drives his 1969 Mustang into the mountains of rural Oregon. While cruising through the small town of Comstock, his car breaks down and so he brings it to the only mechanic around, a guy with a limp named Paul (Scott Wilson) who runs the place with his foxy underage daughter, Jo (Cynthia Gibb). Paul tells Malone it'll be a few days before he can get his wheels back in action, and shortly after this discussion, they witness some local bad guys run over a guy on a bike.
It turns out that these bad guys are in cahoots with the main bad guy in the area, an evil political right wing weirdo named Charles Delaney (Cliff Robertson) who, along with a few militia guys, wants to ‘take America back.' Who or what exactly they're going to take the country back from is never really made clear, but Delaney periodically mutters things about being ‘pure' and such so we're lead to believe he's a racist of some sort. At any rate, in order to take America back, Delaney needs to buy up the land that Paul and Jo run their gas station on, but they don't intend to sell. Meanwhile, Malone has made a fool out of one of the local tough guys by kicking his ass when he makes a pass at Jo. This leads that guy's brother to the barbershop where Malone has gone for a trim. When the guy's brother accuses Malone of having a ‘tiny pecker' Malone doesn't act too kindly and he winds up having to kill the man in self-defense. This brings him to the attention of Delaney who figures he could use a man like Malone on his side, but when Malone won't sell out, he has the local cops take his gun so that he won't be able to cause any more trouble, and then he sends some hit men after him. In the middle of all of this is a current CIA agent with ties to Malone's past (Lauren Hutton) who shows up just in time to help him out after he gets shot in the gut by the aforementioned hit men. After five days of rest, however, Malone is feeling good enough to get the shotgun out from where he's hidden it under his car and take the war to Delaneys' ranch where a bunch of thugs with UZIs are waiting for him.
Malone is all kinds of bad movie great, as everything from Reynolds' amazingly unenthused performance to his toupee to his awesome toughness is so unrealistic and contrived that you can't help but love it. And what about his odd relationship with teenage Jo? At one point she walks into his room wearing a slinky nightgown, the temperature letting us know in no uncertain terms that she's not wearing a bra, and while he doesn't do anything with her that he shouldn't, this scene still carries a creepy vibe with it. Making matters worse is a scene towards the end of the film where Malone knows he has to leave Jo and her old man. As he walks away she runs up behind him and says ‘In five years from now, I'll be older' (which seems pretty damn obvious, doesn't it?) and he responds with ‘And so will I' after which he kisses her on the lips right in front of her dad, who doesn't seem to mind one bit.
Let's get back on track though. This is NOT a romance movie, no sir, this is a movie about Burt Reynolds kicking ass, so how does that aspect of the movie hold up? Well, in the first two thirds of the film there's really only the fight on the bridge (which is rad) and the shoot out in the barber shop (also rad) with lots of space in between. These spaces are filled with Malone not wanting to divulge his first name and just hanging out in his room on his bed a lot. Once that hit is carried out and he heals from his wounds, however, it's time to take the kid gloves off and strangle people with bags, kill people with a bale of hay, shoot people point blank in cold blood and blow stuff up. In fact, so tough is this Malone character that he not only blows stuff up but when he does he walks away from it without even looking back at it. Possibly the biggest action movie cliché of all time, but done so well here that you just have to stand up and pump your fist in the air when it happens.
Kino's AVC encoded 1080p high definition 1.85.1 widescreen transfer of Malone offers a noticeable upgrade over the previous MOD/DVD-R release that came out as part of the MGM Limited Edition Collection a couple of years ago. The transfer has very nice color reproduction and is frequently quite impressive with its detail, particularly in close up shots. Skin tones look lifelike and natural and black levels are fine. There's noticeable but minor damage to note and throughout the movie but it's never a serious distraction, just white specs and the odd tiny scratch. Most of the time grain looks fine but there are some scenes that do look a little noisy for whatever reason. This is on par with a lot of the other recent Kino offerings of older MGM catalogue titles: not reference quality, but solid enough.
The English soundtrack, presented in DTS-HD 2.0 Mono format, is clean and clear and free of any hiss or distortion. The musical bits sound very good here and pack some welcome punch, while dialogue stays well balanced and easy to follow. There's good depth here, the final explosion sounds great and the sound effects have good weight behind them. Again, this is an improvement over the previous release. There are no alternate language options or subtitles provided here.
Extras include a static menu, chapter selection and a trailer for the feature as well as bonus trailers for a few other Burt Reynolds movies: White Lightning, Gator, Sam Whiskey and Navajo Joe.
Burt Reynolds proves once and for all that he's an indestructible and unstoppable force in this ludicrous action movie from MGM. Entertaining for an erratic mix of right and wrong reasons, Malone is bound to be a welcome addition to the home video library of any B-grade action movie fan. This Blu-ray release from Kino offers the film up in great shape and presents a nice upgrade from the previously released DVD in picture and sound quality. Despite the lack of extras, it still comes recommended.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.