Going into the second sequel of the 'Maniac Cop' series, audiences are given a proper cause and reason for Matthew Cordell's resurrection. Or at least, as proper as could be offered, especially since the prior two flicks pretty much ignored the discussion altogether. The first explained his rage-fueled motive but never addressed what made him an unstoppable menace, whereas the second simply didn't bother with such minor details, and Cordell went straight to a killing spree of revenge. Now, in part three, we see a Voodoo priest (Julius Harris, who starred as Tee Hee in 'Live and Let Die') chanting his magic zombie spell as Cordell walks the streets in silence while dark, creepy shadows hide his disfigured face.
Unfortunately, as good an attempt to explain Cordell's return as that may be, it remains largely unsatisfying and opens a whole new can of plot holes. The main problem is why this witchdoctor cares at all and what are the motives for reviving the maniac cop and unleashing his relentless vengeance upon New York City once more. When Cordell confronts the priest, we're told that the wrongfully imprisoned cop still has more to do, which is true: a few who did him wrong survived the last movie. So with that being said, what does the priest want with the zombified Cordell? And on top of that, why is a majority of the story set in a hospital where he fixates over critically-injured beat cop Katie Sullivan (Gretchen Becker)?
Basically, almost from the start, the plot, which comes from another script by Larry Cohen, grows sillier and sillier as it progresses, with little explained, action sequences for the sake of action and maybe a couple interesting ideas. And what I mean by interesting is some vague social commentary about the media and altering news facts for sensationalism. Thanks to a pair of freelance cameramen who debate the value of life threatening situations based on money, Sullivan becomes a disgraced, renegade cop that lost control during a robbery with hostages. Jackie Earle Haley ('Watchmen,' 'A Nightmare on Elm Street') is great as the thief, Frank Jessup, but the character himself feels more like narrative padding with little contribution to the overall story except more action.
The main plot has Robert Davi and Robert Z'Dar reprising their roles as Det. McKinney and Matthew Cordell, with the two once again going after the other although Cordell appears to show a bit more patience. And in this, viewers are treated to a few hugely low-key and subtle allusions. Cordell wanting an undead bride (a 'Bride of Frankenstein' homage?) is one weird twist, but an early confrontation with an annoying citizen calling cops wild cowboys turning into skeet shooting demonstrates some unexpected humor on the part of the filmmakers. Davi is also reunited with 'Die Hard' costars Grand L. Bush, who played Agent Johnson, and Paul Gleason, who played Deputy Chief Dwayne Robinson. Only thing throwing a wrench into the pace is the out-of-place, budding romance between McKinney and a Dr. Fowler (Caitlin Dulany).
When it's all said and done, however, even these mildly amusing touches do little to ultimately save 'Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence' from itself. The entire story pretty much falls apart in the middle of the first act when audiences are left wondering the point of Cordell's attraction for Sullivan. Although Davi does great as McKinney, they changed the character from tough, grumpy cop to easy-going romantic lead, made all the more weird by Cordell's own infatuation. The whole second half, in fact, feels like a sudden jump in rhythm with more emphasis on pointless action sequences. Direction is credited to Alan Smithee, so that gives us a clue there is good deal more going on behind the scenes. In the end, this third entry to the series is a decent cult flick, but it really should have remained "silent . . . forever" after the far superior sequel.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Blue Underground brings 'Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence' to Blu-ray as a two-disc Collector's Edition combo pack. The Region Free, BD50 disc sits comfortably opposite a DVD-9 copy inside a regular blue case with a lightly embossed slipcover. At startup, viewers are taken directly to an animated menu screen with full-motion clips and music.
Maniac Cop terrorizes Blu-ray once more with a terrific, highly-detailed 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode supposedly made from a brand new 4K remaster of the original negatives. And from the looks of it, there is little reason to doubt that claim, showing crisp, distinct lines along buildings, the streets and on the leaves of trees. Facial complexions are revealing, exposing every pore, wrinkle and blemish in close-ups. Background information is plainly visible throughout thanks to well-balanced contrast levels while colors are brightly saturated and clean with primaries looking particularly energetic. Rich and luxurious blacks provide some depth with spot-on shadow delineation. The video does take a dive in a couple sequences, but nothing too distracting and easily excused as a fault in the source. Awash with a thin layer of grain, the high-def transfer is fantastic.
Compared to the sequel, which featured a high-rez 7.1 upmix, this DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack is much better and enjoyable. The surrounds still come in at a slightly higher decibel than they really should, but at least, it's not as overwhelming or distracting. A few light atmospherics expand the soundfield a bit, but the musical score is pretty loud and somewhat off-putting. The front soundstage is nicely balanced with good channel separation and a generally good mid-range, with a few moments of clean, detailed higher frequencies. However, a few of the sound effects fall flat and feel hollow. Low bass is appropriate with an agreeable, responsive punch during action scenes, and dialogue reproduction is well-prioritized in the center, making this a strong lossless mix.
The second sequel in the 'Maniac Cop' trilogy is definitely the weakest of the bunch with a scatterbrained story about Cordell wanting a bride, and McKinney finding romance and Voodoo. The horror action flick comes with a couple mildly amusing touches of comedy and allusions, but is ultimately unsatisfying and forgettable. The Blu-ray, on the other hand, arrives with excellent video and a good audio presentation. A small assortment of supplements doesn't add much value, but the overall package makes a pleasing enough addition to one's cult collection while others will want to play it safe with a rental.