Now that Thanksgiving and the awfulness that is Black Friday is out of the way, it’s time to jump back into EXPLOITATION ALLEY. I suffered a small setback this week, as I had planned all week to write about a cheesy little movie directed by Herschel Gordon Lewis called “SHE-DEVILS ON WHEELS” but alas, my new Netflix account on my Wii was giving me trouble so last minute I wasn’t able to do that one. So, instead of letting that bum me out, I’ve decided to write about another fun one. Someone recommended 1977’s THE SENTINEL, which is a film I’m actually very fond of, but I’m going to save that one for next week, so there isn’t two Satan-filled films in a row (last week was The Devil’s Rain). This week, I’m pulling out the Adonis DNA and Tiger Blood and am going to tell you guys about a genre film I dig. The great overacting extravaganza starring Charlie Sheen, BEYOND THE LAW.
My love for this gem of a Biker movie goes back to its premiere on HBO in 1992. Already a fan of Sheen’s from YOUNG GUNS and every other great movie I watched of his growing up, I was ready for a fun time, but this one, oh this one. If you’re into biker mullets, bad mustaches that eventually turn into bad beards and Michael Madsen doing his best badass biker bad guy, this one’s for you.
Loosely based on a true story, BEYOND THE LAW tells the story of Dan Saxon, a young police officer with nightmares of his troubled childhood. Through the course of the movie, we find out that Dan was raised by his crazy police officer uncle who would handcuff him and beat him, until Dan ended up killing him as a child. After a fight with his boss, Dan is put on leave and eventually approached by an Attorney General’s agent about going undercover into the worst biker gang around, responsible for drug and gun trafficking. At first Dan screams at the agent about how he won’t do it and tells him to fuck himself, but as a viewer, obviously we know the next scene will be the agent explaining the setup to Dan.
Through a series of montages filled with Dan being the worst narc of all time, it’s just a matter of time before he gets an ally and some comic relief to go with Charlie Sheen’s infamous scowl. As soon as Leon Rippy shows up in the movie as Virgil (aka-‘dildo’..I’m not making this up.), the movie gets going in my opinion. The first 10-15 minutes starts slow and doesn’t really do much for me, but Virgil’s loose cannon mechanic persona is a fun one to watch. Minutes later, with Virgil’s help, Sheen ditches the stache in favor of a biker mullet and a beard, puts on a jacket with a made up biker gang name on it, lets Virgil piss on it for street cred..(yeah..) and off we go. Eventually Dan is introduced to Blood (Michael Madsen), the leader of the biker gang who is pretty much Madsen’s character from RESERVOIR DOGS without the suit and is just as crazy as Sheen’s character is.
I don’t want to turn this into a blow by blow, scene by scene article, so alas, that’s where I’ll leave the plot synopsis, and dig into what makes the movie so much fun. After Dan is eventually welcomed into the gang, the movie goes off the rails in a good way. Little by little, Sheen begins to lose his grip on the fact that he’s an undercover cop and begins to go nuts with the biker gang. He rides his bike into a cowboy bar, starts a bar fight, throws dynamite at a can that other bikers are shooting at, and even jumps another undercover cop posing as a biker, almost beating the guy to death. It’s fun to see how into this movie Sheen gets too, it’s pure cheesy overacting, everything from the nightmare tremors he suffers to him constantly flipping out and tucking his mullet behind him. Even more, when a love interest is introduced, played by Linda Fiorentino (from one of my all-time favorite movies, John Dahl’s THE LAST SEDUCTION) Sheen tries to be a nice sweet guy to her and her kid while being a rebel biker and a cop and god knows what else is going on. Even as a kid, the scene where Biker Sheen puts on a fake French accent and acts like a chef to Fiorentino’s daughter in the movie left me scratching my head.
While someone with more of a taste for a legitimately good movie about undercover cops gone too far would normally gravitate towards Lili Zanuck’s RUSH or another favorite of mine, Joe Carnahan’s NARC, BEYOND THE LAW is more for fans of 60-70’s Biker exploitation movies that Roger Corman might have put out. It’s always made me think it was made in the wrong decade, I swear if it had been made twenty years before, Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper would have played the Sheen & Madsen roles. It’s a fun genre movie that you could sit down, drink a few and laugh at how silly it is. So if you have a chance, look it up and give it a watch..and don’t forget to fix your beards and mullets while doing so.