This predictable but energetic gangster film begins in the late 1920s, when Vincent Coll (Christopher Bradley) and his older brother Peter (Jeff Griggs) are ambitious but lowly enforcers for Irish thug O'Malley (William Anthony La Vallee). They get a taste of the big time when they collect
a debt from Mr. Gotti (Guy D'Alema) at the swank Flamingo Club, where they rub elbows with mob kingpins Lucky Luciano (Matt Servitto) and Legs Diamond (Will Kempe). Vincent falls in love at first sight with the club's sultry singer Lotte (Rachel York), while Peter's head is turned by prostitute
Rosie (Anna Garduno). The Colls soon kill the double-crossing O'Malley and take over his liquor business, bringing them to the attention of Dutch Schultz (Bruce Nozick), who remembers the Colls as childhood pals and hires them to help his lieutenant Abadabba (Frank Senger) rub out the upstart Big
Mike Moran, who's killed Dutch's underling Joey in an attempt to take over the rackets. Dutch allows Vincent to marry Lotte, but when the Colls soon want to strike out on their own, Schultz has chief henchman Perelli (Andrew Podoshyan) gun down Peter. Vincent retaliates by killing Perelli and
Abadabba and decides to go after Schultz, aided by Kid Twist (Thomas McHugh), a turncoat Schultz associate; gang warfare breaks out.
At a birthday party for Vincent, Rosie opens a letter bomb/birthday card meant for Vincent. His gang decimated, Vincent, Lotte, and Kid Twist hole up, and Vincent arranges through Madden a peace meeting with Dutch. But it's a set-up; Kid and Vincent are mown down, as Dutch listens to the carnage
over the phone. As Lotte hysterically cradles Vincent's body, Dutch toasts his future.
The varying successes of BUGSY, BILLY BATHGATE, MOBSTERS, and their TV also-rans, brought Prohibition-era gangsters back to movies, and prolific producer Menahem Golan, always ready to cash in on box-office trends, set up MAD DOG COLL as a US-Russian co-production. Cost-cutting appears to have
been the main order of the day, since the film was shot simultaneously with HIT THE DUTCHMAN, a feature that used the same sets and, mostly, the same actors to tell the Dutch Schultz story. With a largely American cast and a largely Russian crew, much of MAD DOG was filmed in an uncredited Moscow
studio, where the late-1920s urban American street scenes and interiors were mocked up, often enjoyably just a tad off the mark.
Neil Ruttenberg's screenplay is a predictable melange of all the familiar gangster-film elements: barking Tommy-gun shootouts and executions; truck hijackings and secret warehouse distilleries; smoky nightclubs with tuxedoed thugs; deadly treachery among the mobsters and their minions, all
scheming their hopefully separate ways to the top; plus all the physical period accoutrements of costumes, cars, guns, and language. Co-directors Greydon Clark and Ken Stein (both with extensive B-movie experience) keep all the pieces noisily moving around the board, spurring along the
labyrinthine plot with frequent and lively action sequences. The production, designed by Clark Hunter, is loaded with atmosphere in the wisely underlit photography by Janusz Kaminski, who subsequently shot to fame, winning an Oscar for SCHINDLER'S LIST. A good score by Terry Plumeri also enhances
The mostly young, unknown actors perform adequately, although none of the characters here are at all sympathetic. Bruce Nozick is the most fun as the scheming Dutch Schultz, while Rachel York--repeating a similar role from BILLY BATHGATE--has several solid scenes as Vincent's hardbitten paramour.
She also does her own singing in the nightclub numbers, which include "Big City Blues" and "Crazy 'Bout You" (both new mock-20s blues songs by Plumeri and Lisa Hunt) and the only authentic period song, Hughie Cannon's "Bill Bailey Won't You Please Come Home." After playing theatrically in Europe,
MAD DOG COLL was released in the US direct-to-video under the title KILLER INSTINCT. (Violence, sexual situations.)
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- Released: 1993
- Rating: R
- Review: This predictable but energetic gangster film begins in the late 1920s, when Vincent Coll (Christopher Bradley) and his older brother Peter (Jeff Griggs) are ambitious but lowly enforcers for Irish thug O'Malley (William Anthony La Vallee). They get a taste… (more)