Four years after beginning his one-man assault on the thugs on New York City, Vietnam vet turned vigilante John Eastland is back with his trusty flame thrower in this Cannon-made sequel.
New York City. A group of local goons have robbed a local convenience store and have shot the owners, an elderly couple. When the cops arrive, the goons attempt to run in the alleys. They are soon met by a mysterious figure wearing a welder’s helmet, military gear, and armed with a flame thrower. The figure is the Exterminator, who has returned after a four-year self-imposed exile. The Exterminator is former Vietnam War veteran John Eastland, who once began a one-man assault on New York City’s seedy underworld.
John attempts to live a quiet life outside of being the Exterminator. He reunites with old war buddy P.D. and has started up a romance with aspiring dancer Caroline. However, his actions as the Exterminator have drawn the wrath of gang leader X, whose brother was one of the thugs the Exterminator had taken out at the convenience store. X decides not only to avenge his brother, but decides to wage war on the city with the intent on taking over for himself. When during their date, Caroline is paralyzed from X’s men, John decides to begin retaliating as himself until things go too far and must once again become the Exterminator.
The producer of the original Exterminator, Mark Buntzman, took over for this sequel but when he presented his film to Cannon Films’ Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, they were appalled by what they saw. It seems like according to sources, Buntzman took an approach that was similar to James Glickenhaus’ original effort in terms of tone. However, Golan and Globus brought in William Sachs to shoot additional footage and add more of the flame thrower that would be the Exterminator’s trademark weapon. Nevertheless, the version we all ended up seeing remains one of Cannon Films’ 80’s action gems.
Returning to the role of John Eastland is Robert Ginty. Here, it is clear that while he has once again donned the military gear as the Exterminator, we see John beginning to adjust somewhat to a normal life once again. In the original film, he had such pent up anger that he basically took it out on all scum and seems to be somewhat of a recluse as we were led to believe Michael was his only way out of being humdrum. However, this sequel does have John adjusting well when he finally finds love with an aspiring dancer, played by Deborah Geffner, and finds another old war friend in P.D., played by Frankie Faison only to once again have his life shattered and once again, goes into full explosion (no pun intended) mode as the Exterminator.
Mario Van Peebles definitely looks like he is enjoying himself playing the film’s central villain, X. He and his street gang resort to nefarious methods to get what they want and even resort to tactics similar to what one would expect from someone like the Exterminator. Like John in the original, X is fueled by revenge when it is revealed that one of the thugs set ablaze by our hero in the opening sequence is X’s brother, and like John, X doesn’t just want revenge on John, he wants to be the biggest gang boss in all of New York City. It is safe to see that X is a reverse version of John in the original Exterminator.
What makes the film very exciting are its action filled sequences, especially when the Exterminator unloads setting thugs on fire with his flame thrower. David Spear’s score goes perfectly with the slow motion shots of the goons running as they are set on fire. The third act takes an approach using military tactics, gunfire, and a supped-up garbage truck complete with guns coming out of the top and sides in which John controls using the various levers inside the truck.
While Cannon’s Exterminator 2 is quite the 80’s action gem, one can only hope someday we could see the original vision Mark Buntzman had with this vigilante film.
WFG RATING: B
A Cannon Films production. Director: Mark Buntzman. Producers: Mark Buntzman and William Sachs. Writers: Mark Buntzman and William Sachs. Cinematography: Bob Baldwin. Editing: George Norris and Marcus Manton.
Cast: Robert Ginty, Mario Van Peebles, Deborah Geffner, Frankie Faison, Scott Randolf, Reggie Rock Bythewood, Bruce Smolanoff, David Buntzman, Kenny Marino, Derek Evans, Irwin Keyes, Robert Louis Keyes, Arye Gross.