As interest-free as an empty checking account, SHADOWFORCE takes place in sleepy little Norman, Texas, where a veteran cop is mysteriously gunned down in the night.
Attending the funeral is the deceased's brother-in-law, big-city flatfoot Rick Kelly (Dirk Benedict), who commences his own investigation. Det. Kelly discovers that virtually every lawman in Norman is on the payroll of powerful San Antonio gangster Emilio Vela (Rey David Pena). Wielding this
"shadow force," Vela has been knocking off DAs and other enemies across the state. Norman's corrupt Police Chief, Lou Thorpe (Lance LeGault), leads a posse of killers against Kelly, but the hero fights back with blazing guns and some booby-trap tricks he learned back in 'Nam. Finally, Kelly
catches up to Thorpe himself, after the Chief has promoted himself to mob boss by simply shooting Vela. In the great tradition of poorly written movie villains, Thorpe talks a lot and lowers his gun long enough to let Kelly nail him.
Except for Lance LeGault's bracingly malicious Thorpe, most of the actors breeze through SHADOWFORCE in good-natured fashion, not betraying a trace of attitude or concentration. The trouble is, neither does director Ken Lamkin (using the pseudonym "Darrell Davenport"); the narrative just ambles
along listlessly when it should be tightening the screws. Every once in while, a barely-related murder is thrown in just to stir the plot out of torpor--and show off sites and landmarks around San Antonio.
One of those landmarks is basketball player Terry Cummings, a forward for the San Antonio Spurs, cast in a small role as a security guard. Playing a Vela bodyguard is Joe L. Gonzalez, a local businessman turned executive producer. More familiar faces include longtime character actor Jack Elam as
a barkeep and Larry Hovis, best known from his days as a regular on the TV sitcom "Hogan's Heroes," as an innocent bystander--just about the only one of that species in Norman.
Certainly something could be done with the BODY SNATCHERS concept of an all-American small town whose entire police force has gone bad, where nobody and nothing can be trusted. There's one wild touch of paranoia when the spunky old lady who works part-time as a dispatcher is revealed to be a
Vela assassin, but that's about all. As for the Tex-Mex meanie himself, Vela's got an amazingly small and inept set of bodyguards for an evildoer of his stature, evoking an apt summation of this regional effort's budget: el cheapo. It played San Antonio for a week at the start of 1993, then went
to home video. (Violence, profanity, sexual situations.)
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- Released: 1993
- Rating: NR
- Review: As interest-free as an empty checking account, SHADOWFORCE takes place in sleepy little Norman, Texas, where a veteran cop is mysteriously gunned down in the night. Attending the funeral is the deceased's brother-in-law, big-city flatfoot Rick Kelly (Di… (more)