Color, 1988, 82m.
Directed by Arizal
Starring Christopher Mitchum, Mike Abbott, Ida Iasha, Dicky Zulkarnaen, Zainal Abidin
OMG Entertainmnent (DVD) (Holland R0 PAL)
Quite possibly the greatest contribution to world cinema from the 1980s, this utterly crazed Indonesian action mind blower is one of the greatest works by Arizal, a prolific action filmmakers behind titles like The Stabilizer and American Hunter, starring Christopher Mitchum. One of the unsung heroes of '80s action junk food, Mitchum (son of Robert) teamed up earlier with Arizal to make this during a particularly frenzied period in the actor's career alongside such VHS-era favorites as SFX Retaliator, Death Feud, American Commandos, The Executioner Part II, and Jess Franco's Faceless. This particular gem was made by Rapi Films, a still-strong Indonesian exploitation outfit behind such films as The Devil's Sword and Lady Dragon, so as you can probably tell already, it's pure magic.
While he's off buying some toys for his gun-happy son for his eighth birthday, American Vietnam vet Richard Brown (Mitchum) finds his happy life overturned when some goons bust into his house, then pump bullets into his son and gang rape his wife before offing her, too. When some more thugs show up later to take out Richard, too, he manages to extract some clues before killing them all and cutting a deadly trail on the path of Mr. Hawk (Abbott), a local crime lord he's never met. Armed with a seemingly endless supply of grenades and firearms, he kills off what seems to be half the criminal underworld before temporarily being captured and tortured. Just as he's about to have one of his eyebrows seared off, a female ninja bursts in and creates a diversion in time for him to ram a red-hot poker up the end of one of the henchmen. It turns out his savior is Julia (Iasha), Hawk's secretary, who actually got the job so she could get her revenge after Hawk turned her younger sister into a drug-addicted prostitute who died of an overdose. Complete with some critical information about how to take down Hawk's organization, Richard ramps up his revenge plans even higher as the film turns into an orgy of car chases, gun fights, and explosions. Lots and lots of explosions. In fact, there's even this line of dialogue: "I tell ya, when I saw the car blow up, I cried."
While the plot itself is nothing new to anyone who's seen fare like Death Wish or Rolling Thunder, the execution of Final Score is anything but ordinary as it bounces around like a caffeine-addled 12-year-old. There's literally never a dull moment as it keeps escalating to greater heights of action lunacy, complete with wonderfully inappropriate dubbing (especially from the peasants and bad guys) and a parade of stunts no sane person would ever attempt now. (The car vs. train gag is priceless, and the helicopter feat at the end is absolutely one for the history books.) Mitchum makes for an appropriately stoic hero tossing off icy farewells to all of his victims, and the Indonesian setting gives it a nice local flavor different from the usual urban warfare options.
Released on VHS in a small handful of countries (including Japan), Final Score was never officially distributed in the United States and has had to slowly build a following via the gray market and word of mouth. Funded by an Indiegogo campaign, the Dutch release from OMG Entertainment in collaboration with Camera Obscura marks the first official DVD release anywhere in the world. The film is presented from the best source material currently available, which appears to be a one-inch video master from around the time of the film's release. Obviously this can't go head to head with the slick HD restorations common today, but it's still a significant leap over the muddy VHS rips floating around. The mono English audio sounds fine (and hilarious), with optional Dutch subtitles, and the disc also comes with two cool extras: an audio commentary by Big Willy and The Samurai from the podcast The Gentlemen's Guide to Midnite Cinema, who devoted an entire episode to this astonishing film, and liner notes by Zachary Kelley, both of which contains a ton of info about Arizal including his little-covered early days in the animation department at Disney(!). The commentary's a load of fun and in the same tone as their recommended podcast, which is always a blast, and their growing enthusiasm as the action set pieces fly out of control is definitely infectious. Also included is the trailer specially made to raise money to release the DVD, as there presumably wasn't one actually cut anywhere for theaters. You need this one.