A film only the NRA could love, TWISTED JUSTICE is set in the year 2020, which looks not a whole lot different from the near future depicted in the considerably bigger-budgeted (and ideologically antithetical) THE HANDMAID'S TALE. Guns are illegal for everyone, especially the police, who
now wear goofy-looking, chrome-armor-plated vests and subdue criminals with little toylike dart-guns. Of course, the film's cop hero, James Tucker (writer-producer-director David Heavener), will have none of this armor. He also carries an illegal holster cannon, which is put to use early in the
film to blow away a ranting, bomb-toting psycho who's impervious to both darts and fists. Tucker's specialty, it turns out, is hunting psychos of every stripe, from the bomb thrower to the serial killer that his police commander, Gage (Erik Estrada), assigns him to track down. Tucker's
investigation uncovers a mad scientist, Steelmore (David Campbell), who blackmails a pharmaceutical corporation into supplying him with the ingredients for a street drug that turns its users, like the psycho bomber, into super-beings with ultrahigh IQs, tremendous strength, and a seeming
imperviousness to pain. To keep his suppliers in line, Steelmore gets into the habit of murdering wives, ex-wives, and mistresses of the executives and scientists with the pharmaceutical company--these are the serial killings that put Tucker on his case. Along the way, Tucker has to convert one of
those pesky female civil-libertarian types (Julia Austin) to his pro-gun cause, and must also endure Morris and Kelsey (Jim Brown and James Van Patten), two dunderheaded fellow cops who drop by his apartment occasionally and tear the place up in search of his illegal weapon (which is disassembled
when not in use, its parts converted into common bathroom items). There are also the routine bawlings-out by Gage, the standard quota of desultory car chases, and a few pitched, blood-pellet gun battles. Virtually the film's only original touch is a lame running joke in which a seemingly gay male
radio dispatcher spends the film flirting with Tucker; "he" turns out to be played by none other than ex-Hugh Hefner main squeeze Shannon Tweed, the mix-up occurring because her voice is distorted over Tucker's radio.
Most of TWISTED JUSTICE's funniest moments are purely unintentional, however. There's Tucker's pet rat, seen in close-up at the beginning of one scene only to appear inexplicably, several shots later, in Tucker's medicine cabinet during one of the police searches of his apartment. There's a brief
scene of Steelmore talking into his cellular car phone, precisely filmed and lit in such a way as to show clouds of the actor's spittle spraying into the air as he barks into the receiver. Later, Steelmore takes a bullet square in the chest from Tucker's revolver, but continues scampering through
the film's climactic gunfight as if he's barely been nicked. The topper is the anticlimactic scene in which Gage chirpily addresses the camera, telling us about his hope that the glorious day will come soon when the police, once again, will be allowed to carry guns. All that's missing is a
superimposed American flag fluttering in the breeze and the "Star Spangled Banner" on the soundtrack.
Such moments of unintended amusement aside (there's also an intentionally funny cameo by Karen Black as one of Steelmore's victims), much of TWISTED JUSTICE, like many another budget-basement action thriller, plays like a grown-up version of children's cops-and-robbers games in the backyard, with
the dart guns and silly outfits heightening the effect. The main difference--besides the huge chunks of klutzy expository dialog that deaden the film's already snail-like pacing--is that, judging by what can be had at most toy stores nowadays, the kids probably have more realistic props.
(Violence, profanity, adult situations, nudity.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1990
- Rating: R
- Review: A film only the NRA could love, TWISTED JUSTICE is set in the year 2020, which looks not a whole lot different from the near future depicted in the considerably bigger-budgeted (and ideologically antithetical) THE HANDMAID'S TALE. Guns are illegal for ever… (more)