Prime in the Dustbin: ‘The Executioner Part II’ (1984)

When you’re in the mood for a gritty, urban action movie set in the seedy underbelly of Los Angeles, you could do much better than The Executioner Part II, a sequel for a movie that doesn’t actually exist. That’s right, The Executioner Part II is actually The Executioner Part I, but since there’s no Part III, it’s really just The Executioner. And if you think that’s nonsense, buddy, just wait until you watch the movie itself.

The story is fairly simple. The city is in the grip of a nefarious crime boss named Antonio Casallas (Frisco Estes). The working girls, who are the least believable hookers in the world, know him as the sadistic Tattoo Man. Understand: he has one single tattoo. It’s not even that great. It looks like it was drawn on with a three-pack of Sharpies.

But there’s a crimp in the gangster’s plans to rule the Hollywood underworld. A masked vigilante, dubbed The Executioner by the media, is murdering Casallas’s bad guys, usually by placing a hand grenade somewhere on his victim’s body. Subtlety is not his strong point.

The cops can’t catch the Executioner or the Tattoo Man, because they suck. The main character, Lieutenant Roger O’Malley (Chris Mitchum), is so unobservant he doesn’t realize his daughter, Laura (Bianca Phillipi), is a sweating drug addict, constantly on the verge of withdrawal. Her dealer works for the Tattoo Man, and he’s more than willing to turn her out in exchange for dope.

The Executioner is only out for justice on the surface. The truth, as we learn by watching the same flashback scene four or five times, is that he is a crazed Vietnam veteran who refers to all of his victims as Charlie. “It’s not over as long as crime runs the streets,” he screams, reciting his own Reader’s Digest version of Stallone’s speech from Rambo: First Blood Part II, which actually had a Part One, by the way. “Charlie must die! Search and destroy!”

There’s a lot of screaming in this movie, especially by Laura’s friend, Kitty (Marisi Courtwright), who shrieks every one of her lines like she’s a raptor from New Jersey. Unsurprisingly, she has one of the best bits of dialogue as she smokes a doobie with Laura. Kitty looks at the joint and says, “I wish this were coke! Oh, heavenly coke!”
A lot of clothing gets torn, too, indicating rough sex about to happen, but we never see it. The men in this movie hate to see women’s shoulders covered, so they rip just that part of the dress off. Had this been filmed any later in the Eighties, they would have had to gnaw through shoulder pads to get what they wanted, a fleeting glimpse of that sweet shoulder skin.

The fight scenes are legitimately laughable, as The Executioner takes on the whitest gang you’ve seen. ABC Afterschool Specials had gangs tougher than these guys. Scrawny Caucasians with body perms who couldn’t block a punch to save their lives and, in this context, it would have. One of the dudes is wearing two bandanas, different colors, one on his neck and one around his head. That’s bad fashion, and especially thought-provoking if you’ve seen Cruising. We even meet one of the Tattoo Man’s evil henchmen who wears a red and black silk vest through the entire film, like the world’s angriest maitre’d.

There are also moments where you hear fighting sound effects, that ‘whap’ of fist hitting face, when not a single person is getting punched. That makes sense, though, because every single line of The Executioner Part II is overdubbed, sloppily looped in. It’s like watching an 85 minute long training class for beginning ventriloquists.

The Executioner Part II is a mosh pit of bad action, laughable dialogue, and borderline offensive stereotypes. And yet, it’s still funnier than the last five Will Ferrell movies. Whether that’s a comment on Ferrell or The Executioner Part II, only history can decide.

You, however, can decide whether or not to put The Executioner Part II into your eyeballs. It’s waiting like a wolf spider for you on Prime Video.

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