Search and Destroy/The Glove (US - DVD R1)
Gabe pulls the car up front, fires up the grill, and cranks up the window speaker
In celebration of the good old days of the Drive-In and the great exploitation double features it harboured, Dark Sky Films has released a series of Drive-In Double Features discs, each featuring two unique films from different sections of the grindhouse experience.
A down-on-his luck bounty hunter (John Saxon) buys a one-way ticket to Hell when he tries to capture a vengeful ex-con (Rosey Grier) out to punish an order of corrupt prison guards with the torture device they used on him—a riot glove made of 5 lbs. of lead and steel.
I got to briefly meet actor John Saxon at Flashback Weekend in Chicago this year. It’s the only time I’ve felt required to get an actor’s autograph, and I was lucky enough to have Robert England signing autographs nearby (not that England’s exactly chopped liver, but he’s no John Saxon). The line was small, but the guy in front of me was a bit of a chatterbox, so I decided to give the guy a break and keep my fanboy questions to myself. The whole time I stood there I held this DVD under my arm, hading just been handed it from the nice folks at the Dark Sky booth, and because I didn’t read the box I had no idea he was even in it. I would’ve had the DVD autographed.
Anyway, I’m a very big fan of Mr. Saxon’s work; his brand of machismo is just as entertaining as early Eastwood’s. The problem is that the guy has so many bit parts I have to absorb them quickly before they disappear. Why Tarantino waited until his episode of CSI to use the guy I’ll never know. The good new is that he is the number one star of [/i]The Glove[/i], and he gives a fine performance. In fact, pretty much everyone gives a good performance in The Glove. It gets to the point that you think you’re watching a real movie.
You know what? This is a real movie. Its budget and plot are a bit on the drive-in side, but it really isn’t any sillier than any other action film coming out of the late 1970s, it just flew under the radar. Those that enjoyed Tarantino’s Death Proof this spring may remember the occasionally flaccid pacing and long character talks about relatively nothing. There is some of this in The Glove, but as in the case of the grindhouse action films Death Proof so expertly apes, it is a stylistic way of dealing with a budget that only accommodates three or four action set pieces. I tend to enjoy the way characters talk in these movies, and can usually stick with it. In this case I probably only glanced at the clock twice.
The Glove never delivers the over-the-top goods promised by it’s oddball premise, and all these surprisingly realistic and charming character moments might disappoint viewers expecting an ultra-violent comic book, but I really enjoyed myself. It’s sort of like a James Bond movie for the working class, complete with colourful characters, hot women, action, a poker game, and an opening credit theme song that uses the title in the lyrics. The only difference is this James Bond is balding, doesn’t wear a tux, he spends his money on alimony, he doesn’t have a British accent, and he narrates his adventures. Frankly I think he could kick Roger Moore’s ass.
Search and Destroy
Ex-GIs Perry King (CLASS OF 1984) and Don Stroud (PERDITA DURANGO) fight for their lives as members of their elite combat unit are picked off one by one by the embittered soldier they left behind enemy lines.
Though it comes first order wise on the DVD, I’m considering Search and Destroy the lesser feature. The routine action thriller looks great, even better than The Glove, and features a few really tight chase sequences. These chases end up taking about a third of the film’s runtime, and though I wouldn’t call them particularly dramatic, they are technically impressive. Director William Fruet gets a lot of production value for what’s obviously a meagrely budgeted film, even though the Vietnam sequences don’t quite live up to the similarly low-budgeted Last Hunter (we can’t all be Antonio Margheriti now can we?).
Both films on the double feature have more or less even exploitation casts ( Search and Destroy features Don Stroud, George Kennedy, and Tisa Farrow in supporting positions), but Perry King is no John Saxon, even if he did make it further up the Hollywood ladder over the years. King is a straight man, not a character actor, and he can’t hold the screen, nor can he be taken particularly seriously when he gets really angry.
If I didn’t have the clever dialogue and moderately successful social commentary of The Glove to compare it to, I might consider Search and Destroy adequately written, but there just isn’t enough story to fill a 90 minute runtime, even with thirty minutes worth of chases and shootouts. We’re talking an hour’s worth of plot and chasing tops, the rest is filler, and it bores.
The Glove is grainy, dirty, and features more than a few chunks of artefact, but is perfectly watchable. Colours are a tiny bit washed out, and blacks a bit too warm, but details are relatively sharp, and contrast levels acceptable. There are a few sloppy changeovers and skipping frames, but care has been taken to remaster the film. Search and Destroy is more or less the same, more dirt and artefacts, less washed out colouring.
The Glove looks pretty good, but its sounds a little ragged. Dialogue is clear enough, but high volume levels buzz and certain actors are quite a bit louder than others, though Saxon’s narration is consistent and clear. So long as there’s music or ambient noise to be heard the track does pretty well, but when the soundtrack goes quiet there is a hiss on the track. Pops and crackles are minimal, but Victor’s guitar is way out of tune. Again, Search and Destroy floats in the same boat, but is a little more consistent. I liked the electronic score quite a bit, and even on this barely cleaned-up mono mix it has some bassy oomph.
What, two movies for the price of one isn’t enough for you? You’ve gotta have special features too? Aren’t you the selfish one? Well, with that attitude you get nothing. Well, okay, if you watch both films in a row you can have some old school drive-in concession stand ads and trailers for other Dark Sky releases.
So let’s raise our beers, Cokes, and slices of heat lamp warmed pizza to the Drive-In as it lies dying. Thanks to Dark Sky for realizing not every exploitation flick deserves a special edition roll out, and instead releasing affordable double features like this one. The Glove is a fine sample of the grindhouse at its classiest, while Search and Destroy is a solid first act. I enjoyed this disc, and hope to see more of the same from Dark Sky in the future.
Review by Gabriel Powers
This product has not been rated
Release Date: 26th June 2007
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono English
Easter Egg: No
Director: William Fruet, Ross Hagen
Cast: Perry King, Don Stroud, Tisa Farrow, Park Jong Soo, George Kennedy, ohn Saxon, Roosevelt Grier, Joanna Cassidy, Joan Blondell, Jack Carter, Aldo Ray
Length: 185 minutes
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