I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Maniac Cop 2

tn_maniaccop2Bruce Campbell and Laurene Landon return for the bigger, I think better MANIAC COP 2. I guess it had a bigger budget than the first one and it has a more confident, cinematic feel. Hats off to cinematographer James Lemmo (who also did the first one, MS. 45, VIGILANTE and THE GLADIATOR) for his deliberate, ominous pans through New York City locations. There’s even a great opening credits sequence designed by Pablo Ferro (DR. STRANGELOVE) that really establishes the mood as the camera glides across a police impound lot and the remains of the vehicle involved in the climax of part 1.

This is maybe 2 weeks later, when Jack (Campbell) has been cleared of the murders but is trying to get back on the force. I’m a little confused because there’s a new captain and reference to the previous one being dead, but for some reason the commissioner, played by Michael Lerner (BARTON FINK) instead of Richard Roundtree, and given a different name, is treated as the guy who’s always been there. He sends Jack and Theresa (Landon) to police psychologist Susan Riley (Claudia Christian, HALF PAST DEAD), which is also where a new character, Detective Sean “Mac” McKinney, ends up after shooting a suspect. (He didn’t kill him, but only because he says it’s too much paperwork.)

But they never found Cordell. He’s still out there, now with a skeleton nose hole and a billy club that turns into a sword. And [well, time for SPOILERS already] all the sudden Jack is reading about himself in the newspaper and is surprised to discover that blade poking out of his neck. So he’s been Janet Leighed. And just like Jack when his wife got killed, suspicion falls on Theresa, and nobody believes her it was that famous dead supercop that did it. She somehow convinces Riley to come with her to reveal the truth on a TV show and they get attacked on the way there.

There’s a great stunt sequence with a tire-less cab spraying sparks everywhere and Theresa getting thrown through a store window. Theresa doesn’t survive this sequence, but it’s Riley that gets the real showstopper: she’s handcuffed to the steering wheel of a moving, driverless car. We see this thing swerving through traffic, catching air etc. with a stuntwoman hanging on the side. In a Q&A on the blu-ray Lustig says it was inspired by a scene in POLICE STORY when somebody was handcuffed to a steering wheel and he thought that was gonna happen, but it didn’t. So he did it.

mp_maniaccop2It becomes Mac and Riley’s movie, and both Davi and Christian are excellent in it, the type of understated, believable acting performances that can really elevate a movie like this in the rare occasions when they appear. Mac has a macho attitude but is very calm and soft spoken, Riley is self-conscious and vulnerable and allergic to bullshit. They both seem a little sad, and once they start to get along they clearly like being together, maybe more out of friendship than attraction. It’s sweet.

Cordell gets up to some pretty funny shit in this one. Mac claims that everything he does is for a reason, but sometimes it seems like the reason is just to fuck with people. You know how in action movies the hero often happens to come across a robbery of a convenience or liquor store and intervenes? For example HARD TO KILL. That happens in this one except instead of beating up or shooting the robber, the Maniac Cop just shoots the clerk. He does, however, hand the gun over to the robber, tricking him into walking out with it and getting shot by other cops who have arrived on the scene.

The movie takes another tangent when it goes to the Club 69 strip club where the sleazy, bearded, panty-clutching weirdo Turkell (Leo Rossi, RIVER’S EDGE, THE ACCUSED, HIT LIST) takes a liking to new dancer Cheryl (Paula Trickey, BLACK SCORPION). This is actually the serial killer and rapist that Mac has been after. He’s like a more social MANIAC, a big, gross predator who follows Cheryl to her apartment and attacks her. Suddenly Cordell bursts in like a vigilante… except he doesn’t vigilantilize. And Cheryl knows it too, she immediately screams when she sees him. He tosses her around, and then tosses the actual police who show up to help her, and then takes Turkell out the window.

Come to think of it I’m not sure why he was there or what he was trying to do, but Turkell ends up recognizing him as the Maniac Cop and inviting him to his place to hang out as buds. Turkell idolizes him for making people hate cops with his murder spree. So you got a giant zombie cop hunched over in a cramped apartment listening to a creepo ramble on. Turkell decides they have a mental connection and that they’re on a crusade together. Even rapists think they can make the world a better place.

Luckily Cheryl goes to the police and is even brave enough to go with them to look for her attacker at other strip clubs. They find him and arrest him.

This is where it gets real good: Turkell starts bragging to his cellmates (who include Danny Trejo and Clarence Williams III) that his buddy Cordell is gonna bust him out. And sure enough Cordell shows up on the gun range, standing by the targets, unaffected by the bullets and shooting all six cops who are practicing. Then he plows through the headquarters, walking right through multiple glass doors, shooting out windows, shooting cop after cop after cop, picking one up and throwing him, causing him to break through several office dividers, just tearing the whole place up single-handedly. And it’s beautifully shot action. It’s like Jason Voorhees by way of John Woo.

Then Maniac Cop and Rapist Sidekick take a couple of the prisoners (not Trejo, for some reason) and hostage Riley and head for Sing Sing to, at least according to Turkell, free the death row inmates. I was sure he was misinterpreting things and was in for trouble, but I don’t know, the telepathy claims seem to pan out. But also he’s in for trouble.

What makes this one kinda special is that Mac’s plan for combating Cordell is not to do some spell or use a secret weapon or anything, it’s to get to the bottom of the corruption, have his conviction overturned and clear his name. To seek truth and justice and not the American way of killing him, though that happens too. He also has to fight a whole bunch of inmates while on fire. It’s kind of easy though, he just hugs a guy until the guy is on fire and then throws him to the next floor up. Spiro Razatos returns on the stunts and makes sure to have a part where two guys on fire simultaneously crash through a window and plummet a couple stories onto a bus and break through and then the bus blows up.

(END SPOILER) I love that Cordell gets a police burial with honor guard and the folded flag and everything. It’s an attempt to undo the injustice that happened to him. It’s very honorable and forgiving and just. Or it’s totally fucked up, because he was the Maniac Cop, after all. How many people did this guy kill, even if you only count today? Jesus, he was a total monster, both literally and figuratively, but he gets a hero’s burial. The system is okay with it. I’m not sure if it’s meant to be taken as nice or terrible, but I like that it works as both.

(I don’t believe they would ever do this for a guy that killed dozens of cops, but just go with it. Poetic license.)

Mac says that “there’s only that much difference between a cop and a maniac cop.” I hope he’s wrong, whichever way he meant it.

MANIAC COP 2 is the crown jewel of the MANIAC COP trilogy. It really fulfills part 1’s ambition to combine conventions from horror and from New York cop movies in cool and unpredictable ways. It has another good cast and a more interesting set of characters and crazier action. It deserves to be promoted to captain.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Wednesday, December 10th, 2014 at 10:26 am and is filed under Action, Horror, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

11 Responses to “Maniac Cop 2”

  1. Vern, I’m surprised you didn’t point out that Mac is played by the great character actor Robert Davi in a rare starring role. Seems like that’s something you would be into. Not too many guys who look like that (i.e., like a Dick Tracy villain) ever get a chance to be a leading man, so it’s worth celebrating when it happens.

    I would also like to give a shoutout to the late, great Charles Napier for the classic line “When it comes time for your execution, you can’t con Con Edison.” I miss Charles Napier. Who do we have left to play big, bull-shooting heartland law enforcement types now? They don’t let anyone have real accents anymore so that character type may become extinct.

    Man, I want to watch this movie now but I’ve only got the Region 2 DVD and my region-free player is packed up somewhere. Might be time to upgrade to that Blu-ray.

  2. I got to see the remastered print of this film screened in a theater when blue underground remastered the film for a blu release. It was a great experience. Th

  3. I got to see the remastered print of this film screened in a theater when blue underground remastered the film for a blu release. It was a great experience. There is just so much to enjoy in this film. It features so much great action/stunt work, strong filmatism, and the remastered print looked amazing.

    I also really liked Davi in it. It is as if his character was transported from a hard boiled crime caper into a horror film but he plays it the same way like it is was still a legit crime drama.

  4. Sorry for the double post

  5. I´ve had my eye out for that blu ray as well as it is regionfree.

  6. Mr. M I remember Davi also starring in LEGAL TENDER which Cinemax used to show a lot back in the 90 s. Admittedly though it was no MANIAC COP 2. Speaking of Davi he put on a pretty dope Christmas concert on localpublic access this past weekend. It had me mesmerized.

  7. Davi was in Showgirls! Remember when he said “it must be nice to not have guys come on you for a change”? Funniest line eva!

  8. I’m kind of surprised you didn’t mention the Maniac Cop themed rap song that plays over the end credits, Vern. It features classic lines like “I shoot him with an uzi/but he’ll show up in your Jacuzzi”. The mental image of Robert Z´dar ambushing some poor guy in his jaccuzi is just hilarious to me. It’s a shame they didn’t do a jacuzzi kill scene in part 3.

  9. Not really sure where to post this, but since this is the most recent review which came up with under the Danny Trejo tag, I figured this is as good a place as any.

    Yesterday I was driving home from work here in Los Angeles and I passed a restaurant under construction with a “Coming Soon… Trejo’s Tacos” sign. Yep, Danny Trejo is opening a taco place… and it’s on the way home from work. I’ll give you guys and gals a review once it’s opened.

  10. Bought the Blue Underground release. And it has Swedish subtitles! Wow, that must be a first. An american release that has subtitled languages outside of their distribution range. I dopn´t think I have encountered that before.

    The film itself looks great. And as a film itself it is a hoot. I love how Cordell hooks up with a serial killer for some reason, just so that he can have someone drive him to the prison to exact revenge. MANIAC COP 2- DRIVING MR CORDELL. The shootout in the police station might be one of the greatest things ever, but it is too short. I want more!

    I never cared much for the OG MANIAC COP, but this one is phenomenal.

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