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  Final Justice Maltese Double Cross
Year: 1985
Director: Greydon Clark
Stars: Joe Don Baker, Rossano Brazzi, Venantino Venantini, Patrizia Pellegrino, Bill McKinney, Helena Abella, Lino Grech, Tony Ellul, Joe Theuma, Bettina Amato-Gauci, Joe Quattromani, Odetta Balzan, Josie Coppini, John Suda, Evlisio Cannori, Greydon Clark
Genre: Action, Thriller, TrashBuy from Amazon
Rating:  3 (from 1 vote)
Review: Geronimo (Joe Don Baker) used to be a lawman in Dallas, but hit a snag when he was responsible for the deaths of a great many people and the authorities thought it would be better if he took up a position as a Deputy Sheriff in a Texas smalltown. Tonight he chats with the Sheriff about this state of affairs while his superior officer warns him of the dangers of eating doughnuts, but what they don't know is right outside the door of their offices a car has been stopped in the pouring rain and its driver shot dead. His attackers try to flee in their vehicle, but it won't start in this weather, by which time Geronimo and the Sheriff are there, demanding they drop their weapons...

That doesn't end well, and indeed this doesn't start or continue well as it was yet another low budget marvel from director, some might say auteur, Greydon Clark whose enthusiasm for the medium may have known no bounds, but whose results were regarded as a little lacking by the tastemakers. In this case those tastemakers were the viewers of television lampoonery show Mystery Science Theater 3000, which featured Final Justice and thanks to the fans seeing star Joe Don Baker as something of a joke himself after the similarly featured seventies crime thriller Mitchell, that Mr Baker should have shown up in another turkey was too good to resist. Hence the reputation.

Actually, Final Justice wasn't aggressively bad, simply mediocre with occasional laugh out loud moments of unintentional humour and more than a few stretches of tedium as the action quickly became repetitive and as cheap as the filmmakers could get away with. The plot was something akin to a European variation on Coogan's Bluff, as Deputy Sheriff Geronimo (pronounced, lest we forget, "Heronimo" because any other way would be absolutely ridiculous, naturally) went to Malta which presumably was offering the production a nice tax break. How does he wind up in those parts? First his Sheriff is shot down by the hitmen who suffered a breakdown, and he chases them into the countryside, whereupon he demonstrates his skill with sharpshooting.

Not that Geronimo kills them both, he only guns one down (hey, who needs to arrest somebody when you're a cop?) and takes the other, hoodlum Joseph Palermo (prolific Italian character actor Venantino Venantini) in for questioning, mainly because if he did in fact kill them both he wouldn't have that excuse to go to Malta when the baddies redirect the plane aiming for Sicily. Obviously he just had to escort Palermo by himself for complicated legal reasons, or perhaps uncomplicated "Joe Don is the star" reasons, but wouldn't you know it, once they're on that picturesque island a car full of gangsters draws up to the taxi prisoner and escort are travelling in (because who needs a police car to meet them at the airport?) and proceeds to liberate the scum from our hero's clutches.

There were halfhearted attempts at sleaze to encourage the viewer to see this as gritty and exciting, so a bunch of young, bikini-clad ladies provide the eye candy, along with being insulted and roughed up because that's how mean the bad guys were: enduring an overbearing massage, being smooshed up against a shower screen while trying to bathe, that sort of thing, and also barely dressing for go-go dancing in what looks like somebody's cellar which doubled as a bar. You can see this was not exactly progressive in its gender poltics, but then again there was the character of Maria (Helena Abella) who became Geronimo's righthand woman as he stalked the isle in search of his quarry. That searching involved a lot of chasing as the out of shape Baker turned action man, racing down streets, climbing into motorboats for a water-based pursuit, and once more showing off his talent with gunfire. When he had his gun, it was repeatedly taken away by the Maltese lawmen, yet another example of a film with half a script - do that bit again, Joe, they won't mind! Music by David Bell.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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