Parole Violators (1994)

There are some action films which exist on a plane of reality that defies any semblance of natural law or rational human behavior. I’m not talking about movies where the hero with a six-shooter never runs out of bullets, or even the hero who has the fortune of being attacked by 30 foes in one scene, but by no more than one guy at a time. I’m talking about movies where the hero strains spaghetti on his kitchen countertop instead of doing it in his sink, and gets hit by two speeding cars in rapid succession before bounding off into the woods like a fucking deer. Really only one movie fits the bill: the action opus from father-and-son stunt team Patrick and Sean Donahue — 1994’s PAROLE VIOLATORS.

Former cop and current “gotcha” reality-TV host Miles Long (Sean Donahue) is a divisive and shadowy figure among local law enforcement. Some police love that this anonymous “video cop” makes their jobs easier by catching recently paroled criminals in the act of committing a crime, on camera, thereby providing video evidence of the crime to boot. Others, such as Long’s real cop girlfriend, Tracy (Pamela Bosley), find the rumor that he moonlights as a videotaping vigilante both disturbing and risky. While his tactics are ethically and legally questionable, they’re effective. He pursues every flavor of low-life, from grizzled stick-up artists to car-jackers. But one recent parolee stands heads and shoulders above the rest.

The villainous Chino, played by first-time-never-again actor Rey Garcia, has just been released from prison several years after being busted by then-cop Miles for sexual assault on a minor. His thuggish buddy Toos (Michael Kiel) greets him upon his release and Chino immediately declares his intent to never again do something to put himself behind bars. In his words, he’s “a changed man.” Well, aside from his obsession with illegally young girls, which he makes sure to reiterate when his buddy questions his sexuality after his prison bid. Beyond that, the only thing we know about Chino is that he has beer on the brain. No matter the situation, he voices his desire to “get a beer.” Just got out of prison? Let’s get a beer. Just evaded capture by throwing a six year-old girl from a moving car? Let’s get a beer. Just had a beer? Let’s get a beer. So, how does a sex offender who never wants to go back to prison commemorate his regained freedom? If you said that he “gets a beer,” you’re only half-right. He starts trying to kidnap little girls again.

Miles hears of Chino’s release and it’s not long before the bad blood between them starts to boil again. Rather than stay clear of illegalities, Chino and friends go after Tracy’s daughter, inviting the fury of a certain former police officer who lists videography as a hobby. Despite the reputation of kiddie-touchers in the prison community, Chino still manages to lure a former cellmate and his biker friends into aiding his evil-doing by offering up the hated former cop as a potential reward.

Most would say that you don’t watch an action movie for the acting, but this film begs to differ, and it begs in a stilted and hilarious way. While the dramatic performances are more entertaining than they are good, in a film like this, it works to perfection. Miles and Tracy have an early exchange in a police car garage which requires the actors to yell an entire conversation over the constant noise of auto repair work. Later on, an actor sells a shotgun blast to the torso by murmuring “I’ve never been shot before” while softly moaning like an eight year-old who ate too much Halloween candy. There’s also an off-beat and hilarious discussion on the relative strength of birds, as a female character writhes around in the back of a pickup truck and licks her lips while exposing some prominent camel-toe to her captors in an effort to distract them and escape. So, while the frequency and intensity of the action scenes are the film’s main attraction, the strange acting and stranger dialogue join forces to further enhance the film’s re-watch value.

From a directorial standpoint, the elder Donahue is a steady veteran presence and the film is paced really well. For the most part, the action sequences are competently shot, one of the highlights being an outstanding “empty warehouse” shootout scene towards the end of the film. It’s a near-constant barrage of juicy squibs and dudes falling from the rafters. The different stunt falls are plentiful, but the one that probably tops them all has Miles falling off a boulder and through a 60-foot canopy of tree branches before landing chest-first on another branch, only to slide down a cliff before landing with a splash in a shallow riverbed. Fortunately, he shakes off the effects of this 120-foot fall in time to immediately kill two bikers with a knife. As mentioned previously, PAROLE VIOLATORS contains a plethora of high-speed car vs. human body collisions which also need to be seen to be believed. I’m surprised nobody died making this movie. The hand-to-hand fights are a bit short for my tastes but they’re accented with plenty of blood splatter, window-crashing falls, and good old-fashioned “baseball bat striking a head of lettuce” sound effects.

In an age where the stuntman has been supplemented or even replaced outright by CGI chicanery, PAROLE VIOLATORS is a refreshing and rewarding watch for action aficionados, especially those who enjoy the jaw-dropping stunt-work from 1980s Hong Kong or Indonesia. Between the epic falls, window smashing, and brutal car hits, this is some of the most insane cinematic stunt-work you’ll find in an American-made actioner. The lack of clean and crisp fight choreography might leave some martial-arts purists cold, but viewers willing to trade off a bit of chopsocky for over-the-top action will want to add this to their collections.

This content was originally posted on Fist of B-List

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