One oddball trope of Action Cinema is the “sax man with an axe (or Beretta 92FS) to grind.” This was explored to great effect in John Woo’s classic Hard Boiled. This was explored to lesser effect in How to Play Baritone Saxophone: Fixing a Sticky Baritone Saxophone Key. And then there’s The Revenger...

The Revenger stars Frank Zagarino. If you don’t know who Frank Zagarino is, he’s the blonde, charisma-impaired sock puppet behind such instant travesties as Airboss and Orion’s Key (aka Alien Chaser). Frank stars as Mike Keller, a promising young saxophonist who experiments in the sort of high-energy, experimental jazz you might have heard on the keno channel at the Sands Regency in Reno. Well, things are pretty peachy for Mike, he's got a hot record deal in the works and his eye on some sweet digs in Malibu but wouldn't ya know it, his ol’ pal Mackie (Arnold Vosloo) turns up and gets Mike involved in a high-speed police chase that results in one dead cop. And you know what means: five years in hoosegow!

"Frank, finish up your set - DeBarge is on at 7:00."

But never mind that shockingly light sentence for police homicide - Mike gets out and has a happy reunion with his sax (watch out, David Sanborn!). Also, he reunites with his best chick Lisa (Nancy Mulford).

Enter our big baddie: snuff film producer, Jack Fisher (Oliver Reed). Kids, this one of the unfortunate side-effects of a lifelong battle with severe alcoholism - one day you’re cozying up to Raquel Welch and twelve blurry years later, you’re playing opposite Frank Zagarino.

"That's it, Ollie. Just a few more hits of that rock and you'll think you're back on the set of The Three Musketeers!."

But I digress, see Jack thinks that Mike’s got a briefcase of cash that Mackie hid, so he kidnaps Lisa. What’s Mike’s brilliant idea? Find the money, but instead of exchanging it for his turtledove, stick Fisher with an athletic bag full of shredded newspaper. Good one, Mike!

When this brilliant plan comes to naught, Mike enlists the help of his dead brother’s cyclopean Vietnam pal, Harry Crawford (who apparently was eight when he landed at Da Nang) and the two bust into Fisher’s Guccionesque compound, guns a’ blazin’ and rescue the freshly-raped Lisa from Jack’s crack-addled clutches.

After a long, mind-numbing stretch of double-crossings, cocaine consumption, vaginal sculpture exhibitions, beatings administered with prosthetic limbs and trite romantic interludes, it all wraps up at Crawford’s sylvan retreat in the California hills. There's a lot of corpses, and a lot of high-flyin' flames, and one of the most unconvincingly choreographed fight scenes you should ever see in your life.

The total sum of these poorly crafted parts is roughly as exciting as working stock at Office Depot for the summer - and if your fast-forward finger isn't gettin' itchy after the first 10 minutes, then friend, you're made of stronger stuff than I.

Crappier ever after...

We all have Cedric Sundstrom for this blight upon the film world - this is the man who would go on to bludgeon the American Ninja series to death before disappearing into the bowels of South African television. And it must be said that it's truly one of life’s great ironies that Roman Polanski, the man who brought us Rosemary’s Baby and Chinatown, is permanently banned from our Great Nation*, yet the Cossack who squeezed this 20 paratransit pileup from his colon strolls free, a Citizen of the World. But I guess life, much like the The Revenger, doesn't make a helluva lotta sense.

* The Actioneer, its parent company and subsidiaries do not support the plying of underage girls with champagne and quaaludes, then performing lewd and lascivious acts upon them while in, or near, a hot tub.


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