I saw the remake of Conan yesterday. I was deeply disappointed. It was as if quality and originality was pronounced dead. So. It felt good to repair the damage by checking out Rolling Thunder on Blu-ray. It’s a great grindhouse film with that gritty 70s look, and I feel like a happier individual having seen it. Charles Rane (William Devane) comes home from ‘Nam and is hailed as a hero. Then some bullies show up and they don’t agree that he’s a hero – so they crush one of his hands, kill his wife and child, and steal some silver coins. Time for revenge! Of course. I mean, a movie like this without revenge is like porn with no tits.
Rane gets a pirate-hook on his broken hand and seeks help from a confused blonde and a badass war buddy (a young Tommy Lee Jones). Together, they blow shit up and kill all those nasty, evil villains in brutal ways. Rane even uses his hook in a couple of painfull scenes! Quentin Tarantino named his company “Rolling Thunder Pictures” after this movie and through this company he published several cult classics on DVD, including The Mighty Peking Man. The company went bankrupt, however, because of low sales. People want shit like Transformers 8 in their shelves instead – a sad fact that makes me fall to my knees and act like Charlton Heston at the end of Planet Of The Apes.
Back to the film: Rane doesn’t just resort to his hook when he kills bad guys. He likes guns and he has a wall full of weapons! God knows why? Maybe the moose in the area are aggressive or something? The badguys have, in other words, messed with the wrong guy! The film has a simple but good story of revenge, and it’s full of good dialogue. The script is written by Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver) and, like most Schrader films, the main character is very dark – which in this case is because of bad experiences in Vietnam. Rolling Thunder is well made and it’s full of good actors (Dabney Coleman and Linda Haynes among others) and it’s a little different from other, “typical” grindhouse movies.
This is one of the best looking grindhouse films ever made. Rolling Thunder was first produced by Twentieth Century Fox. And as we all know, they make some good looking films. But to be branded as “Grindhouse”, a film shouldn’t be produced by a Hollywood company. But Fox didn’t like all the violence in the film and decided to sell it to American International Pictures. AIP is one of the most notable names in Grindhouse, and this is one of their greatest films. But it’s not just violence and action the whole time. Rolling Thunder has a surprisingly sensitive and dramatic core. It’s directed by John Flynn (Lock Up and Best Seller) and it’s a good movie with a powerful climax.
Release year: 1977
Director: John Flynn
Starring: William Devane, Tommy Lee Jones
– A Vietnam Vet Kills For Revenge
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– Another Shattering Experience From The Author Of “Taxi Driver.”