Bullet Points: The Revenger
Frank Zagarino (or Zags as he is affectionately known around the Bulletproof Action office) is something of an enigma. Zags had an acting career that spanned a quarter of a century despite an almost complete lack of charisma and personality. Physically Zags was in great shape and he had the body of an action star, but his most memorable physical trait was his blank visage.
Over the course of his 25 years of movie making, Frank Zagarino had more than his fair share of motion picture abominations. But with the right supporting players, even with all his aforementioned shortcomings, Zags could step up his game and be a part of some action goodness… this was the case with 1989’s The Revenger…
- With Friends Like This: Frank Zagarino plays Mike Keller, a talented saxophonist whose star is on the rise in the music world. Mike is also in love with a woman named Lisa and the two are engaged to be married. Sounds like everything is coming up Keller, right? Unfortunately for Mike in addition to having a promising career and woman he loves, Mike also has an asshole friend named Mackie (played by Arnold Vosloo, G.I. Joe: Retaliation). Mackie shows up at the club where Mike was playing one night and asks his old buddy for a huge favor. Mackie feeds Mike a cock and bull story about needing to get to an important business meeting, but having a lady friend passed out in his backseat. Mackie tells Mike he can’t very well show up to this meeting with a woman passed out in his car and asks Mike if he’ll drive him to the meeting. Mike, being the good friend he is, agrees to help Mackie. A patrol car shows up in the parking lot of the club just as Mackie is seen getting a briefcase out of his car and getting into Mike’s car. The cops notice the woman in the backseat of Mackie’s car and upon closer inspection realize that she is dead. This leads to high speed chase, with Mackie holding a gun to Mike’s head forcing him to evade the police. Mackie’s plan goes to hell in a handbasket when they run right into a police roadblock, Mike slams on the brakes… Mackie is ejected from the car and dies and an officer is struck by the car as it was spinning out and killed. Mike is charged with manslaughter and sentenced to five years in prison. Mike Keller’s perfect life was no more.
- Porno For Pyros: First time offender Mike Keller is paroled after three years and reunited with the love of his life, Lisa. Mike even manages to land a gig playing sax shortly after his release, but that’s about the time some goons show up looking for the $500,000 that Mike’s buddy Mackie had stolen from their boss, Jack Fisher (Oliver Reed, Hired to Kill). Fisher is a pornographer, but he is involved with a lot of underworld type activities and is definitely not the type of person you want to owe money to. Mike has absolutely no clue where Fisher’s money is, but Fisher does not believe him so he has his goon squad go and kidnap Lisa and hold her for ransom. After an action packed altercation at a theme park between Mike and Fisher’s muscle, Mike realizes he is going to need some help (probably right about the time he was hanging off a train car) so he turns to an old army buddy…
- Let’s Get Harry: Jeff Celentano, who you may remember as Wild Bill from American Ninja 2: The Confrontation, plays Mike’s old army buddy Harry Crawford. Harry is now an electrician by trade, sports an eye patch and has a prosthetic leg… but Harry is still up for kicking it old school and helping Mike rescue Lisa from the slimeball Jack Fisher. With Harry’s help, Mike is able to rescue Lisa and get her back home(unfortunately for her not before Jack Fisher raped her). Sounds like this movie is going to wrap up early, right? Unfortunately for Mike and Lisa, Jack Fisher is not through with them. Jack sends in one of the dirty cops on his payroll to re-kidnap Lisa. The dirty cop could not have picked a better time to abduct Lisa for a second time if he tried. Lisa was sound asleep and Mike was in the shower. After Mike dries off and puts some drawers on, he hears Lisa’s muffled cries for help and runs out to see what is wrong. Mike soon chalks up another cop kill, but this one was very much intentional. Realizing they are not safe at home, Mike once again reaches out to Harry. Harry takes Mike and Lisa up to his cabin in the woods where the trio will prepare for the final battle with Jack Fisher and his criminal empire.
Oliver Reed deserves a great deal of credit for The Revenger being an enjoyable movie. Watching Reed’s scumbag portrayal of Jack Fisher will make you want to shower. But more importantly, Reed’s Fisher made Zagarino’s job as action hero much easier. Zags is clearly not the best of the best where action heroes are concerned, but the desire to see good triumph over evil trumps where Zags falls on the action hero pecking order. Like Stephen Stills once said, if you can’t be with the one you love, then love the one your with.
And like I once said, check out these Bonus Bullet Points…
- If You Ever: …wanted to see Frank Zagarino play the saxophone while sitting on the toilet, then this is the movie for you.
- Directed By: South Africa’s own Cedric Sundstrom directed The Revenger in between American Ninja 3: Blood Hunt and American Ninja 4: The Annihilation.
- If You Ever: …wanted to see Frank Zagarino fight a guy under a man made waterfall, then this is the movie for you.
- AKA: The Revenger was released as Saxman in Italy. Saxman was also the working title for the movie.
- Classic Comeback: One of the prison guards takes great exception to the fact that Mike Keller (a cop killer) is getting out on parole only three years into his five year sentence and he asks Mike “Who’d you suck off to get out early?”. Mike responds with a true classic, “Your mother!”