Film School Rejects dismissed The Vindicator as a”formless blob…a RoboCop ripoff.” We’re not hear to um, vindicate it, but it’s worth noting that this on-the-cheap Canadian techno-action-thriller predates the Paul Verhoeven film by a year and a half…
And it’s not like RoboCop doesn’t share stuff in common with early comic versions of Judge Dredd.
However, there are key differences between RoboCop and this film: boom mics in the frame, Canadian production values, tenebrous cinematography that resembles Bruno Mattei in his sub-prime, and the fact that RoboCop is still in print…
In The Vindicator, ARC is a sinister corporation, headquartered in an unnamed city, but which fans of tax shelter Canadiana will instantly recognize as Montreal. They’re developing “rage program” serum being tested on chimps (and we’ve seen that movie before! That’s Monkey Shines/Link/Shakma territory, primate-run-amok films which have made monkeys of us in the past).
However, being evil and all, ARC Corp does have other stuff in the innovation pipeline: a super high tech space suit, but more interestingly, Japanese technology which suspends grey matter in an oxygenating fluid to keep it viable. When a lab explosion claims the life of rockstar scientist Carl Lehman (who’s certainly no layman) ARC’s top-dog Alex Whyte figures they’ve got a recently still-warm body to test out their technology.
Now, if you weren’t already aware of the similarities to Frankenstein, The Vindicator pummels you over the head with it, as the evil corporation’s venture is none other than “Project Frankenstein.”
That won’t arouse suspicions at all!
The company builds Carl a cyborg body, and tries to re-animate him with rage serum, with a remote control safeguard. Unfortunately, there’s a short circuit..and a big fire! The gold lamé space suit burns away, leaving this proto-RoboCop looking somewhat less like an Austin Powers villain.
Cyborg Carl escapes…high-tails into an alley, beats up a bunch of Francophone motorcycle toughs, before being chased into a scrapyard, where in the sunny light of day…his form is fully revealed…not the sleek chassis we’ve come to associate with Peter Weller, but…a kind of rusted, jalopy Swamp Thing.
The Vindicator is sorta dull, but the presence of the ever-gorgeous Pam Grier helps as Hunter, a kendo stick-wielding assassin.
**1/2 (out of 5)