The Expert

  • 1995
  • Movie
  • R
  • Action, Martial Arts, Prison

Flexing brain power as well as biceps, THE EXPERT is an action flick anomaly. The movie examines every aspect of the capital punishment controversy, while still delivering enough explosive action to satisfy genre buffs. When his college-age sister Jenny (Michelle Nagy) is sexually assaulted and slain by sociopath Martin Kagan (Michael Shaner), SWAT team...read more

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Flexing brain power as well as biceps, THE EXPERT is an action flick anomaly. The movie examines every aspect of the capital punishment controversy, while still delivering enough explosive action to satisfy genre buffs.

When his college-age sister Jenny (Michelle Nagy) is sexually assaulted and slain by sociopath Martin Kagan (Michael Shaner), SWAT team instructor John Lomax (Jeff Speakman) wrongly assumes that justice will prevail at the trial, unaware that Kagan will use his keen legal knowledge to manipulate

the system to his advantage. Despite Kagan's record of juvenile violence, liberal prison psychologist Dr. Alice Barnes (Alex Datcher) lobbies to have his death sentence commuted to confinement in a mental facility. Seemingly recovered from the shock of his sister's murder, as well as from an

assault by crazed trailer trash trying to spring their death row sibling Bobby Lee (Trent Walker), Lomax worries his reporter girlfriend Liz Pierce (Elizabeth Gracen) and fellow officer Dan Mason (Wolfgang Bodison) when he hatches a plan to break into the jail holding Kagan, which is due for

closure, and kill him. While Lomax arms up for his mission, Warden Munsey (James Brolin) is removed from office for publicly lauding capital punishment. His temporary replacement is Alice Barnes. Simultaneously, Kagan sets in motion an escape plan: revealing to his next-cell neighbor Bill Loomis

(Norm Woodel), serving a sentence for killing his wife, that he commited the murder, he incites Loomis to stab him with a shiv. In the ensuing chaos, Kagan takes Barnes hostage and guns down execution junkie Munsey. All hell breaks loose as the death row inmates are about to be transferred to a

new prison. Although Kagan uses the guards for lethal target practice and sics the cons on intruder Lomax, a bout between judge-and-jury Lomax and Nietzchean criminal Kagan ends when Kagan gets a savage beating and plunges to a poetically just electrocution on the penitentiary roof.

While adhering to basic action movie formulae, THE EXPERT forces viewers to contemplate the capital punishment quandary. How often do action flicks provoke debate as half-time entertainment in between kung fu tournies? Without proselytizing, THE EXPERT spotlights the complexities of both the pro

and con stances. Although the outwardly fawning Kagan sniffles about childhood abuse to beat a deserved rap, framed Loomis really is an innocent man awaiting execution. And if Brolin's Warden is a violencemonger, his position ultimately proves more viable than that of importunate Dr. Barnes, who

revictimizes the slain to aid defendants because of her own history of incestuous child abuse. In the midst of all this food for thought, THE EXPERT invigorates its audience with a series of power-packed fight scenes, ferociously choreographed and performed for the camera. Loose ends remain untied

(Barnes's conversion to vigilante utterances is too abrupt, wouldn't Kagan have an easier time escaping from a mental institute?), but this action pic moves forcefully enough to make such points moot. The production values and performances are top of the line, particularly the convincingly vicious

Shaner. A star whenever he fights, the sleepy-eyed Speakman looks like an Elvis impersonator when he acts, but he certainly exercises better script judgment than almost any other martial arts headliner. Challenging spectators to think during their roller-coaster ride, THE EXPERT is a prescription

for proscription that wrestles equally well with both crazed assailants and moral dilemmas. (Graphic violence, extreme profanity, sexual situations, adult situations.)

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  • Released: 1995
  • Rating: R
  • Review: Flexing brain power as well as biceps, THE EXPERT is an action flick anomaly. The movie examines every aspect of the capital punishment controversy, while still delivering enough explosive action to satisfy genre buffs. When his college-age sister Jenny (… (more)

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