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Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence

Blue Underground // NC-17 // November 19, 2013
List Price: $29.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Adam Tyner | posted November 10, 2013 | E-mail the Author
Maniac Cop 2 is about as perfect as a sequel can get, cramming together everything director Bill Lustig and screenwriter Larry Cohen had ever dreamt of watching in a B-movie but never actually had seen before. It's just about wall-to-wall action with some of the most ambitious and gloriously insane stuntwork ever committed to film, benefitting further from a sharply written script, accomplished direction, and a
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hell of a cast.

Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence, not. This borderline-unwatchable installment once had a premise that read more like Bride of Maniac Cop, although just about all of that was lost somewhere along the way. Katie Sullivan (Gretchen Becker) is a good cop who bends the rules just enough to survive the mean streets of New York. When a couple of if-it-bleeds-it-leads cameramen selectively edit footage of a hostage situation gone wrong, they paint the now-comatose Sullivan as a cold-blooded murderer. The press have crowned Sullivan the new maniac cop, which I guess makes her a perfect match for the recently re-resurrected Matt Cordell (Robert Z'Dar). His murderous crush has the lumbering zombie slaughtering damn near everyone in the hospital where she lies on the brink of death, crossing paths once again with Detective Sean McKinney (Robert Davi) as he tries to clear Sullivan's undeservedly tarnished name.

Somewhere in the neighborhood of nothing about the movie works. A far cry from the manic, breakneck pace of part two, Maniac Cop 3 is plodding, turgid, and directionless. Its dialogue creaks and groans, mired in exposition and devoid of any real wit or flair. Something like two-thirds of the movie is unapologetic filler, and plot points like the voodoo priest that brings back Cordell again don't even qualify as half-baked. The emotional core of the movie is a character we don't really get a chance to know all that well, and it doesn't help that one of the last times we see Sullivan on her feet, she has this bug-eyed, ridiculous expression on her face as she levels a pharmacy with an assault rifle she can't come close to controlling. Bursts of action are few and far between, with hardly any of it making much of an
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impression until the final half hour.

Too many moments seem like leftovers tossed back in the microwave for another go. The early sequence with the pill-popping psychopath in the drugstore -- played by an unhinged Jackie Earle Haley -- veers a little too closely to the convenience store robbery that opens Maniac Cop 2, you've got another cop framed for murder, and the car chases and epic burn gag in part two make way for an epic burn gag during a car chase this time around. It takes forever for the body count to start racking up, and for most of the time, it feels like Cordell barely rates as a supporting character in his own flick. The only action sequence in the movie that really impressed me is the showdown in the hospital, which is brilliantly staged but shorter than it ought to be. I respect the ambition and technical complexity of the high-speed-and-oh-yeah-on-fire car chase near the end, but it's not staged in a way that gets the adrenaline rushing the way the relentless cat-and-mouse in Maniac Cop 2 did. This is the unrated version of Maniac Cop 3, but with so little in the way of grisly, graphic imagery, it's hard to imagine what wouldn't have slunk by with an R rating.

There are sporadic bursts of brilliance, sure, but not remotely enough to salvage a tedious, aimless sequel like this. If there's any reason to pick up Maniac Cop 3 on Blu-ray, it's not for the movie but for the half-hour retrospective, delving into the endless studio interference and lack of a script that led director Bill Lustig to walk off the production halfway through. It sure doesn't hurt that Blue Underground went all out remastering the movie for Blu-ray too, bringing new meaning to the tired old expression about polishing a turd. Worth a rental, if you're itching for a little more zombie cop action and are intrigued about all the controversy behind-the-scenes. Too much of a slog to get through even once to recommend shelling out eighteen bucks or whatever to own it forever and forever, though. Rent It.

Maniac Cop and its first sequel were meant to play together as a single, seamless experience, so they share the same 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Maniac Cop 3 breaks away from all that, widening the frame to an expansive 2.35:1. Uncredited director Bill Lustig doesn't let his distaste for this third installment get in the way, with his label lavishing it with the same 4K mastering as their Blu-ray release of Maniac Cop 2. Once again, this is a drop dead gorgeous presentation, richly detailed and astonishingly well-defined. The darker photography keeps it from being as readily appreciated as part two, but the detail and definition are there from start to finish, and they can be eye-popping whenever the frame has plenty of light to play with. There really isn't much of anything to complain about. Colors and contrast are both spot-on, its warm, filmic texture
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has been faithfully preserved, the AVC encode never shows any sign of strain, and there's not the faintest trace of speckling or damage. Tremendous work.

I've gotta admit to being let down by the 24-bit, six-channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack, though. Reproduction of dialogue is somewhat uneven, sometimes sounding wonderfully clean and clear while other times suffering from mild strain. There's all sorts of gunplay throughout Maniac Cop 3, and it hardly ever packs much of a wallop. Even as damn near everything in that pharmacy is getting mowed down by a semi-automatic or whatever that is, the gunfire is surprisingly meek in the mix. Even my favorite sequence in the flick, the shootout in the hospital, sounds awfully tepid. The surrounds are often active but aren't nearly as immersive or engaging as they are throughout part two. There's an occasional resounding low-end to the score, but again, bass response doesn't come close to stacking up to Maniac Cop 2 either.

A Dolby Digital stereo surround track (256kbps) is also onboard alongside a selection of seventeen different subtitle streams.

  • Wrong Arm of the Law: The Making of Maniac Cop 3 (25 min.; HD): This half hour retrospective doesn't step lightly around it, exploring pretty much from word one why Maniac Cop 3 is such a complete and utter failure as a movie. What started as a Bride of Frankenstein homage revolving around a black cop in Harlem devolved into an underfunded project with no script, a small army of producers tossing out sequences wholesale and replacing them with barely-thought-out new ones, and a fundamental lack of any vision or passion for whatever was left under all that smoldering rubble. This is a brutally honest look back at the film, and the participants are level-headed enough to accept their roles in the collapse of Maniac Cop 3, at least to some extent, rather than completely passing the buck. I just mean that even with writer Larry Cohen, "director" Bill Lustig, and producer/pinch-hitting director Joel Soisson having their own takes on why things went south so quickly, "Wrong Arm of the Law" isn't twentysomeodd minutes of name-calling and accusations. Interestingly, the members of the cast who are interviewed -- Robert Z'Dar, Robert Davi, Gretchen Becker, and Caitlin Dulany -- say they had little-to-no awareness of the tumult on the other side of the camera and are just about across the board thrilled with the finished product. Director of photography Jacques Haitkin and stunt coordinator Spiro Razatos briefly contribute their thoughts as well, particularly when the conversation turns towards the fiery stuntwork in the finale. Essential viewing for anyone buying or renting this Blu-ray disc and almost certainly the most engaging Bad Movie Post-Mortem I've come across.

  • Deleted and Extended Scenes (10 min.; HD): Pretty much unheard of for a film of its vintage, the deleted and extended scenes in Maniac Cop 3
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    are all presented in high definition. A few sequences are extended, such as McKinney's conversation with his contact in city hall, a longer take on Sullivan's nightmarish walk down the aisle, and a detective that doesn't really get what a defibrillator is, exactly. There are a couple other standouts, such as McKinney eyeing a hospital room drenched with blood and duking it out with some parasites from Internal Affairs. Nice to see but nothing all that great.

  • Photo and Still Gallery: There are just shy of two dozen images in this gallery -- mostly video and poster art from across the globe along with a handful of production stills coming in at the end there.

  • Original Synopsis: Five screens of text from Larry Cohen's almost unrecognizable original treatment spell out a movie that's a couple hundred thousand times crazier and a whole helluva lot more memorable.

  • Trailer (2 min.; HD): A high-def trailer rounds out the extras.

The same as part two before it, Maniac Cop 3 scores an embossed slipcover and an anamorphic widescreen DVD as part of this combo pack.

The Final Word
The screenwriter and two uncredited directors behind Maniac Cop 3 shake their heads about what a complete and total disaster this lazy, limp, and lifeless cash-in of a sequel is. There are films, and then there's product; Maniac Cop 3 only existed to fill the shelves of video rental chains with the title of a recognizable franchise and to rake in some cash from overseas presales. All due credit to Blue Underground for giving part three the white glove treatment, even though the head of the label has more of a reason to scowl at Maniac Cop 3 than anyone the world over. Still, though, this is for completists only. Rent It.
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