Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence (1992)

The partnership between Larry Cohen and William Lustig produced Maniac Cop and Maniac Cop 2, a pair of wonderful b-movies with plenty of action mixed with horror elements.  Lustig's gritty, low-budget directing mixed with Cohen's wild ideas meshed well, with the second movie being even better than the first.  While not big box office hits in the United States the movies did well elsewhere, with the second becoming rather popular in Japan.

Cohen wrote a script for a third movie, this one with a black protagonist and, as Cohen had written for characters of color before, a good portion of the script would have hinged on the lead's background.  Problem is the financing was coming from a company in Japan that didn't want a black lead, but instead wanted Robert Davi, who starred in the second movie, to return as Det. Sean McKinney.  The investors wouldn't budge, Cohen wasn't going to rewrite the script for free, so Lustig filmed what there was that didn't involve references to a black character, resulting in 51 minutes of footage before he said his part was done and walked away, leaving co-producer Joel Soisson to figure out how to complete the film.  Despite that Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence, though definitely the low point of the series, still turned out to be not half bad.

Officer Matt Cordell (Robert Z'Dar) is finally laid to rest, but not for long.  He is resurrected by a Santeria priest named Houngan (Julius Harris) to continue to walk the streets and mete out justice.  In this case it is for an officer named Katie Sullivan (Gretchen Becker) who is severely wounded in a shootout with a crazed junkie named Jessup (Jackie Earle Haley).  A pair of opportunistic cameramen get the footage, but deliver it edited to a local station in a way to make it appear Sullivan used unnecessary violence. 

Sullivan is a good friend of Det. Sean McKinney and he sets out to clear her name while the NYPD pressure Sullivan's mother into agreeing to take her daughter off life support in an effort to save the department some trouble.  Cordell also gets wind of what is happening and, developing romantic feelings toward Sullivan, gets revenge on those that framed her while helping clear her name.  As usual his seemingly altruistic goals devolve into a reign of terror, with Cordell once again taking his anger out on McKinney and Dr. Susan Fowler (Caitlin Dulany), who had also been trying to save Sullivan's life.

Because of the troubled production there are points where the story gets a bit muddled despite pretty much taking place inside a hospital.  Also, unlike the other two films, Lustig ended up filming around Los Angeles, so some of the grit that made the first two so good is gone.  Soisson filmed additional scenes while flashbacks from the first two movies, as well as outtakes from the second, were edited in to extend it as close to 90 minutes as possible.  Still, Lustig did film many of the important parts, and I'm quite sure he was responsible for the finale.

Davi seems game and it was nice that they brought back Z'Dar, even though Cordell is largely filmed in shadows and darkness and the major part of the movie that Cordell is in features a stuntman playing him instead.  Jackie Earle Haley just goes completely over-the-top in his major scene in the pharmacy and it is wonderful to see.  It is just too bad that the movie Cohen wrote and that Lustig wanted to make never got made.  If it had, especially with the final 15 to 20 minutes, it could possibly have topped the second. 

Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence (1992)
Time: 85 minutes
Starring: Robert Davi, Caitlin Dulany, Gretchen Becker, Robert Z'Dar, Julius Harris
Directors: William Lustig, Joel Soisson



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