2 stars

Vigilante Blu-ray Review


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Seems a whole mess of revenge flicks have been coming out of the home video vaults of late to make their debut on the newest format, and as one who is privileged enough to review them, it sometimes works out that you get a whole bunch of the same type of film in a short period of time. This affords both a lucky opportunity to sound these flicks off against each other and also a challenge not to repeat one’s self too much from review to review...

One may think, after several of the same type of film, it may become monotonous and uninteresting, but the one thing this little happenstance has taught me is there are as many iterations of the same tale as there are stars in the sky. So what does this one, spawned from a decade now long gone, offer?

Vigilante is a straight down the line exploitation film about an everyday Joe (Robert Forster) who starts out thinking his world is as it should be. When his wife and child are brutally murdered by a local gang of hoodlums, and the justice system completely fails him (to the point of incarcerating him, instead of his family’s murderer) he spends a great deal of time growing bitter and eventually sets about exacting some justice of his own—with the help of some like-minded vigilantes.

This script is, as most of these films, not one that strays too far from the path. Where it does stray, and ultimately fails to connect with its audience, is in its set up and pay off. You see, the ‘hero’ is not front and centre for the length of the film; he is merely a small cog in a larger wheel that attempts, but completely fails, to explore a community’s frustration and extreme solution to their mutual problems. The film is too busy jumping from character to character to ever bond with anyone, let alone the man you are supposed to root for. Some half-baked dialogue between our lead and a pro-active vigilante (Blaxploitation giant Fred Williamson) tries to provide some societal poignancy and motivation for the characters, but the lack of setting these characters—any characters—up properly makes you numb to their plight.

The violence is brutal and graphic, and due to poor characterization plays for nothing more than exploitative reasons. The characters are all one note, especially the villains, and hard to take seriously, let alone empathize with/or despise in any way. The one thing that is successful is the attempt to depict an ugly world: it is ugly, with nothing to like about it in the least, not even the good guys.

This feels like a film out of time, even for the time it was made (early 80s). Its writing, cinematography, editing, all look heavily influenced by the hardcore exploitation films of the 70s. That kind of B-Movie aesthetic that was already old hat in 1980.

While not a total wash, Vigilante really doesn’t offer up anything worth recommending. It follows the very basic through line of all revenge plots, but what it doesn’t do—not even remotely—is give you someone to root for.

Component Grades
Blu-ray Disc
2 stars
4 stars
Blu-ray Experience
3 Stars


Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - September 21, 2010
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
: English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1; English: Dolby Digital 5.1 EX; French: Dolby Digital 2.0; German: Dolby Digital 2.0; Italian: Dolby Digital 2.0
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD); D-Box

For a low budget 80s flick, I challenge you to find a better transfer. This is a stellar offering from Blue Underground. Shame the movie isn’t any good. This is a 2K High Def transfer straight off the original camera negative. It is a beautifully clean presentation, with grain intact, good colour differentiation and solid blacks. The dour cinematography and visual oppression is about the only effective thing in the whole flick.

Sound is not on par (and no one should expect it to be) with modern mixes, but it is still presented in a DTS 7.1 Mix that works the front speakers quite well.

Special features include a couple of informative commentaries with director William Lustig and cast, and some trailers/promotional shite. For a film I couldn’t really give a toss about, have to admit it’s a well packaged product.


Audio Commentaries:

  • Track one features Co-Producer/Director William Lustig and Co-Producer Andrew W. Garroni
  • Track two features Co-Producer/Director William Lustig and Stars Robert Forster, Fred Williamson, and Frank Pesce.

Trailers and Radio Spots:

  • U.S. trailer (1080p, 1:36)
  • International trailer (480p, 1:52)
  • two British trailers (480p, 2:13 & 1:54)
  • German trailer (480p, 1:49)
  • Italian trailer (480p, 3:22)
  • French trailer (480p, 1:47)
  • Four Vigilante TV spots (480p, 0:31 runtime for the first three and 0:12 for the last)
  • Vigilante radio spot (1080p, 0:33)
  • Promotional reel (480p, 3:35)


  • Still gallery set to music from the film (480p, 3:52)