Excessive Force II: Force on Force (1995)

Own it!

review by Scott Hamilton and Chris Holland
See also:

Wing Chun

Hard Target (Director's Cut)

Heroic Trio

Excessive Force II: Force on Force

Lava LampLava Lamp

Our rating: two LAVA® motion lamps.

Stacie Randall kicks butt
in the graveyard.
Lyra was played by Stacie Randall, who just happens to be the star of this particular movie, which certainly lives up to its name. Our suggestion is that its alternate name should be Excessive Sequel: No Relation to the Original Film. Indeed, from the cast list and plot synopsis of the first movie, we can pretty much tell that the Excessive Force title was used only to sucker fans of the first film into renting this one. (Come to think of it, they've done just the opposite: we're now interested in seeing the first film, which stars our video fave Lance Henrikssen and James Earl Jones.)

Randall plays Harly Cordell, a former Special Forces agent turned investigator, who arrives on the scene of an apparent mob hit to help the local police. Although the police are somewhat suspicious of Harly's presence, they accept her help. It gradually becomes known that Harly is actually hunting down Francis Lydell, her former commanding officer and lover. Lydell (played smugly by Dan Gauthier) shot Harly in the head when she refused his offer to become part of the freelance assassination squad he was forming with the other members of their special forces unit. Ignoring the need for surgery to remove the bullet fragment which still causes her occasional bouts of disorientation, she continues her quest to bring down Lydell before he completes another mission for the Mafia -- or, from our perspective, before he copies Tom Cruise's "cocky" acting style in yet another scene.

Excessive Force II is what we call a "good news/bad news" kind of film. Although Randall is extremely easy on the eyes, that just barely manages to compensate for the fact that she is a terrible actress -- if you're attracted to women, that is. The script, although no Oscar winner, has some solid lines that Ms Randall manages to stomp flat, ruining otherwise enjoyable scenes. Fortunately, the director has managed to place other, more capable actors around her to keep the entire movie from sinking. Unfortunately, the actors who can act can't fight, thus making some of the action sequences a bit goofy. This is particularly bad in the beginning of Lydell's final showdown with Harly, where she kicks him around his own house for a while. The best this guy can do is to roll over tables unconvincingly.

Most of the other action sequences are pretty good, particularly the rooftop crossbow-sniper scene -- although we hardly think that the crossbow is a sniper's weapon of choice. (And it would have been nice if that character, Lydell's right hand man, had kept using the crossbow as his signature weapon). But hey, then a guy goes falling out of an eighth-story window! For what more could we possibly ask? Action scenes like this make up for the painful acting early on in the film.

Ooooo silver spandex.
The most annoying thing about this film is that it doesn't really have the kick-butt attitude that the title suggests. If Harly wanted revenge on Lydell, shouldn't she just shoot him? Instead, she ends up confronting him twice, both times allowing him time to talk to her, and take her gun away, throw grenades at her, etc. The second time seems really gratuitous, as it leads to a needless car chase and a third overly long confrontation.

Plus, we're amazed that Harly ever made it through special forces training -- she drops her gun in every third shot. If you want to have some fun with this film, you can count the number of times she loses her weapon and yell "Butterfingers!" whenever it happens.

Contrary to most so-called action "thrillers" of this budget-class and genre, the written dialogue in Excessive Force II is actually pretty good. Our favorite bits include when the surly, wise-cracking police detective dismisses a skanky witness with the line: "Now get the hell out of here so I can serve and protect your sorry ass." Also, Harly's doctor/boyfriend is pretty funny when she asks him to do some quick stitching of her bullet wounds in his apartment.

Harly: Don't you have a little black bag?

Doctor: Yeah -- it's got my golf clubs in it. I'm a neuro-oncologist, not Doogie Howser.

If action is what you want, there is a pretty good amount, and most of it is filmed in the currently trendy John Woo style. It looks like the director studied Hard Target shot by shot. Stacie Randall seems to have the goal in mind of being the next Cynthia Rothrock, but hardly shows the acting abilities Rothrock displayed in such movies as Lady Dragon 2 and The Dukes of Hazzard Reunion. Basically, a lot of people in Excessive Force II try to emulate their betters, and suffer by comparison.

Own it!

Review date: 05/08/1997

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