For its latest installment of the popular “Drive-In Double Feature” series, Dark Sky Films has paired together two action exploitationers from the late 1970s that definitely go well together and fit the typical grindhouse mold. "Hate and revenge go together like hand in glove."
SEARCH AND DESTROY begins with a darkly lit flashback to the Vietnam War in 1968, and quickly moves to Los Angeles of the present (being 1978) where a black janitor is murdered by an assailant with missing fingers. The action then moves to Niagara Falls, NY (where it remains for the rest of the film), and another fellow is discovered bloody and dead in the driver’s seat of his car. It seems the murderer is a Vietnamese man who views these veterans as the ones who were supposed to escort him to safety, but deserted him in the jungle during the war. Two more veterans from the same unit, Kip Moore (a bearded Perry King) and karate crazy Buddy Grant (Don Stroud) are then tracked down by the trigger happy and bitter foreigner. Buddy is seriously injured after a long chase and aggressive confrontation with the enemy, and Kip is now working with the police to try and track him down. But police protection can’t stop the killer from kidnapping Kip’s lady (Tisa Farrow) and he takes things in his own hands when it comes time to rescue her and confront the rogue who did in his old army buddies.
A Canadian production, SEARCH AND DESTROY carries the basic revenge plot of a bitter foreigner on American soil, going after a group of individuals who are basically the good guys and now have to act like their back in the war. William Fruet (who directed the much better THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LAKE/DEATH LAKE years earlier) pads out the thin storyline with a number of endless pursuits and a lesser amount of fight sequences, and all this hokum is made watchable by an above average cast, headlined by a pre-“Riptide” Perry King and the cult favorite Don Stroud, who here still looks like he just stepped out of an AIP biker film. George Kennedy (if I had a dime every time he played a cop!) is the police lieutenant not used to such chaos in peaceful Niagara Falls, and his line about the tourists there wanting see their murders done on television is pretty priceless. Hardly speaking a word of dialog, Park Jong Soo (who resembles a third-rate martial arts hero) is a pretty dull villain, and Tisa Farrow has very little to do except be a damsel in distress, but it’s good to see her in something that wasn’t made in Italy for a change. Niagara Falls itself is a sight to behold in the late 1970s, highlighted by several wax museums (look quickly for a wax dummy of Telly Savalas as “Kojak”) and other amusing attractions, and this is probably one of the few films to capture it during that period. Also look for a scene cribbed directly from BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID during the climax!
Another tale of revenge, THE GLOVE involves mammoth ex-con Victor Hale (Rosey Grier, with only one head on his shoulders) who was sent to prison for a crime he didn’t commit, which left his baby sister raped and scarred for life. Hale is out to enact revenge on the guards who abused him in prison and his weapon of choice is hefty riot glove made of lead and steal! In the meantime, divorced, down-on-his-luck bounty hunter Sam Kellog (John Saxon) is offered $20,000 to capture Hale, who is hiding out in an inner-city apartment and protected by his friends and neighbors.
THE GLOVE was directed by Ross Hagen, himself a veteran actor of many exploitation films. For a low budget, independent piece of trash, there are some pretty wild action sequences, namely when Grier (or his stuntman) garbed in a black motorcycle helmet does some major damage with the said glove. This includes the opening moment where a prison guard (played by non other than Aldo Ray!) is attacked while smooching in his car (which gets peeled apart like a sardine can) with a married cocktail waitress, and a great sequence where another guard is attacked in his bathroom, with the place being smashed to bits and pieces by “the glove.”
Grier's sympathetic anti hero is a hulk enacting violent revenge one minute and strumming the blues on a guitar for a little boy the next. But it’s John Saxon as the very human and charismatic Sam Kellog that holds the film together, basically consisting of a series of exploits for his character, hunting down various scumbags who skip their bails or bounce checks, while trying to earn a decent living and raise his young daughter. Saxon (who narrates throughout like an old school private dick) is really good, and his character is so well played, the film almost looks like the movie pilot for a proposed TV series for the actor. The (mostly veteran) cast also includes Joanna Cassidy (as Saxon’s would-be love interest), Jack Carter(!), Keenan Wynn, Joan Blondell, Michael Pataki and the recently late Nicholas Worth in a funny bit as a homosexual check-bouncer who gets his head caught in a swimming pool net by the aggresive Sam. John Saxon fans will not want to miss this one!
Both SEARCH AND DESTROY and THE GLOVE are presented on this dual layered disc with very similar, attractive transfers. Both films are presented anamorphic and letterboxed at 1.85:1 with excellent detail and well-defined colors. There is very little in the way of blemishes to be found, but THE GLOVE is actually a tad cleaner than SEARCH. Both films hold strong English mono tracks, and optional English subtitles are also included.
Some vintage drive-in intermission fare is included (some of it accompanied by very appropriately sleazy 1970s music), all of it anamorphically enhanced for the first time on the “Drive-In Double Feature” series. A number of trailers also play before both features: THE ONE ARMED EXECUTIONER, EATEN ALIVE, THE DEVIL'S RAIN, THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (original of course) and THE LAST HUNTER. EXECUTIONER is the only one of the four not yet released on DVD by Dark Sky. (George R. Reis)
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