Skip to main content

Hipster Holy Grail: Lethal Justice (1991) and Lethal Justice (1995)

The Hipster Holy Grail is my ongoing quest to review an obscure movie before it becomes cool to talk about it. Good, bad, doesn't matter.  It just has to be at least 10 years old and have less than 1,000 ratings on IMDb. This week, I watched....

The Short Bit for People Who Don't Like to Read Reviews

It's a crapfest double feature!  Lethal Justice from 1991 is a boring, politically-dubious cop drama with shitty cops, and Lethal Justice from 1995 is a lethargic high school drama with a shitty administration and some rape.  So many wonderful options.

My Rating: 1 / 5 for '91, 2 / 5 for '95

The End of Justice

Long-term readers who've been following the Holy Grail for the last few months have no doubt noticed that I've been exclusively reviewing movies with "Justice" in the title.  There was no special reason for me doing this; I just thought it would be funny since there's like 2,000 Justice movies out there and so many of them meet my arbitrary criteria for the HHG.

Unfortunately, not quite as many of them are readily available, so I'm pretty well tapped out of source material by now.  I may or may not review more for the blog at some point in the future if I'm able to track down copies of some of the more promising titles.

So, to cap off this four month run - and to celebrate the four year anniversary of the Hipster Holy Grail while I'm at it - I've been saving up a special double feature.  Today I'm pleased (not really) to present reviews of two completely separate movies named "Lethal Justice," both of which I've had as possible HHG features from the very beginning.  Surely, if I've been holding onto them this long, they've been worth the wait... right?

No.  No they weren't.  But hopefully you'll enjoy reading about it.  And next week hopefully I'll enjoy finally watching something that isn't about rape or cops or rape cops.

The Plot Summary - Lethal Justice, 1991

We open in a quiet, rural town.  Three goons - Zeke (Kenneth McCabe) and his two dipshit buddies - go inside a convenience mart to rob it.  For the fun of it, they shoot the owners, because this is a movie and this is how armed robberies work when the people involved are cartoon characters.

But their night is about to get disappointing fast: turns out two cops, Cliff Madlock (Larry Williams) and Evans (Barry Brown) have the munchies, and they've decided to stop to pick up some snacks.  They walk into the mart just as the goons are trying to run out, their arms full of stolen crap.  One of the goons tries to shoot at the police, so they return fire and kill him immediately.  Evans handcuffs the other nameless guy, and Zeke runs.  Madlock chases him, but he gets away through the back door.

When Madlock returns to the mart, that last goon starts laughing and taunting the cops.  "I have rights!" he says, grinning from ear to ear.  And again, because this is a cartoon, the sole prospect of due process and any kind of legal system is clearly a bad thing and we're meant to be afraid since an uneducated, lower-class violent offender covered in tattoos who was caught on security footage shooting somebody and whose follow-up attempted murder and assault were witnessed by two trusted police officers is clearly going to somehow buck the system that favors money, cops, and tidy solutions and get off scot-free.  Right?  Because why the fuck not, Lethal Justice, sure.

Anyway, Madlock and Evans say some creepy, intimidating things, and the screen fades to black.  When we fade in later, it's made pretty obvious that they shot and killed that other goon while he was handcuffed.  In their official report, however, they wrote that he shot at them first and they returned fire in self-defense.

A sparky journalist, Jill Weatherby (Jodi Russell), learns about the convenience mart shootings through her police scanner and goes to the town to snoop around.  Partly through her investigation and partly through cutaway scenes with Madlock and Evans, we come to learn that this kind of thing happens all the time.  The town has a substantially low arrest rate even though reported crimes are average, and it's pretty typical that suspects are killed before a trial or arrest is possible.  Naturally, the paperwork all shows that these deaths came about because the police were protecting themselves.

Now, here's where I have to butt into the plot summary and say that so far this sounds like it could actually be a promising setup for a low-budget thriller.  Ace reporter stumbles onto police corruption and has to dig past the veneer of southern hospitality to get to the truth?  There's a lot you can do with that.  Let's see if Lethal Justice makes it work.  (Psst: it doesn't.)

Weatherby tails Madlock one night and tracks him to a drug house, where he and some other officers carry out a sort of half-assed bust.  The cops rough up the dealers' stash, knocking cocaine or whatever the hell it is all over the floor and punching everybody in the head.  Then Madlock forces one of the dealers to eat (and apparently OD on) some of the drugs.  While he goes into a seizure, Madlock tells all the other guys to knock it off, and the cops leave.  So... no, it's not a bust, and it's not an interrogation, and Madlock isn't building up a case so he has leverage on them in order to force a favor to bust somebody else.  They're just being assholes in order to send a message to the rest of the drug dealing community.  Which is... what, exactly?  Shoot cops on sight?  I'm having a hard time understanding the end game here.  You guys are doing this wrong.

Anyway, while all that's happening, we also cut back to Zeke.  He's been trying to lay low in order to make plans for his final escape from town.  His first stop is to find an old man's house.  Zeke knocks on the door and pretends to have car trouble, then asks to use the phone.  While inside the old man's house, he asks a ton of not-very-subtle questions to get more information about his background and learns that the old man lives alone, has no friends, and is not visited often by his family.  So, Zeke kills him and takes over the house as a squat.  Why he doesn't then steal the old man's car and leave, I don't know.  You'd think he could just ditch the car a few towns over and make his way somewhere else.

Cut back to Weatherby's continued investigation.  She's raising some eyebrows throughout the city, and the mayor and other powers that be are getting nervous.  The mayor calls a meeting with Madlock and demands that he bring Zeke in alive in order to avoid any further scrutiny or suspicion, which might be a nice twist for the movie.  Unfortunately, this is never brought up again and has no bearing on the rest of the movie, so congratulations on wasting some time.

And then... I mean, I don't care, more crap happens.  Weatherby keeps investigating, Evans sexually harasses her in a courtroom, Madlock's a fascist creep, Zeke keeps squatting, and everything's just kind of boring and sleepy.  There's a courtroom case where some other dude, not even a cop, is going up to a judge on homicide charges; apparently he's also in the whole "kill everybody and call it self defense" game.  There's some shoehorned dialogue here where his precocious kid looks straight at the camera and says, "Oh, gee, I sure hope they don't send my daddy to jail, I rely on him for security and financial stability," as if the movie's trying its damnedest to convince us that the cops' bullshit murder plot is, in fact, a better system.

Eventually, there's a scene back at that old guy's house where his granddaughter shows up for a surprise visit.  Zeke tries to attack her to keep her from revealing his location, but she gets away and coincidentally runs face-first into Madlock, who just happens to be patrolling the neighborhood.  Madlock chases Zeke again, which ends with Zeke grabbing a random little girl from her backyard and using her as a human shield.  He demands that Madlock put his gun down, and when Madlock complies, Zeke shoots him in the shoulder and steals his keys.  Zeke drives away in Madlock's car.

Now, once again, if this was a movie with actual people instead of comic book characters, here's where you'd expect Zeke to skip town or do something useful.  But, no, Zeke is a ~~VILLAIN~~, so naturally he has to keep escalating matters.  He figures out where Madlock's sister lives, then kills her and her husband as revenge for Madlock killing his buddies at the beginning of the movie.  Then he finds out about Weatherby's investigation through some plot magic and calls her, suggesting that she help him escape the city in exchange for an exclusive interview.

Weatherby agrees and goes to meet Zeke.  Then, through more plot magic, Madlock is there, too. Zeke ends up holding them both at gunpoint and forces them to drive to a local baseball stadium, where the three of them engage in a slow-moving and tepid cat-and-mouse chase.  Eventually it winds up in center field where Zeke is going to shoot them both, but then Evans shows up at the last second and kills Zeke.

Weatherby is pissed off that she didn't get her exclusive interview and threatens to do a huge expose on the police department's corruption.  So she and Madlock come to an agreement: they'll report that Weatherby was assisting the cops all along as part of a sting operation and she was a crucial ingredient leading to Zeke's capture / death.  This way she gets the attention she wanted all along - because journalists never care about integrity or truth, just ratings, amirite guys????? #fakenews #trumpforlife #executionsnoteducation #coplivesmattermorethanyours #theonlygoodjusticesystemisonethatexploitsthepoor

Then the camera lingers on Zeke's corpse while a voiceover informs us that he used to be a baseball player.  This is meant to tie everything in a nice bow, as Zeke had occasionally been making sports metaphors throughout the movie.  It is not as interesting as it sounds.

What I Liked / Didn't Like - Lethal Justice, 1991

In the interest of positive vibes, I'm going to force myself to say at least three nice things about Lethal Justice '91 before I start ranting.  Here goes:

1) I guess the acting is alright.  Most of the cast is mediocre, but they're at least serviceable.  And Larry Williams has kind of a David Heavener vibe going on, which helps.

2) I appreciated that the movie did something halfway interesting for its climax.  Most low-budget movies like this end up in some fucking warehouse where they slog around for twenty minutes.  This time they went to a baseball stadium instead.  Whoo.

3) It... doesn't try too hard?  Sure as hell doesn't feel phony, anyway.  Feels like a real WYSIWYG situation.

Sigh.  I did not enjoy this movie.

Lethal Justice '91 is yet another cop drama that tries to explore the morality of our justice system by explicitly putting straw men from either side of what honestly shouldn't even be a debate up against each other, then shoehorning in the most extreme of circumstances and somehow still failing to make a clear, compelling argument one way or the other.  It doesn't seem like it's that tough a concept to pull off, but here we are.

Here's the thing.  The principles behind the American justice system are motherfucking awesome.  We have one of the few legal systems in history built on the concept that authority should not only not be trusted, but constantly challenged.  Guilt is not (supposed to be) presumed and the onus is on the lawmakers and law enforcers to prove it.  That's so cool.  I know it might sound corny, but it it is.

It's such a genius concept that it's almost unfathomable to me that there could be any other option.  It's such a perfect philosophy that literally all post-apocalyptic and/or dystopian fiction is based on its inversion.  Seriously, think of one cautionary tale about the horrible future that doesn't involve the unchecked corruption of powerful people or groups subjugating and exploiting the innocent.

And yet, despite that, any cop drama focused on the present always approaches it as though we live in some madhouse society where criminals walk freely and terrorize humble civilians day and night.  I mean, to some extent that's true, but we usually dress them up in ties, then pay them a lot of money to stagnate wages and fart carbon all over everything.  (Fun fact: did you know that air pollution kills 220 times more people a year than terrorism?  Think about that the next time you vote.)

Anyway, my point is, cop dramas love to build suspense out of the idea that a police officer's life is a never-ending parade of madness.  They love to make a case that the police have to fight against the legal system rather than work with it, and as a result, psychopaths are free to kill and rape with abandon, so why not get rid of due process from the get-go?  I can buy into that premise if you're planning on delivering some sweet-ass action scenes, but if you can't back it up with a Robocop or a John McClane or something, then you and your right-wing paranoia can go get fucked.  I can turn on the news if I want to watch some ignorant shit curb-stomp the constitution because he's afraid of drugs.  I don't need to waste 90 minutes of my life on your slow-ass movie.

And that's the real complaint I have with this turd of a movie.  There's nothing to hang your hat on other than reprehensible politics.  The action scenes aren't fun, the plot meanders soooooo much that you're not even sure it's Madlock's movie until like thirty minutes in, and even the principal conflict with Zeke plays out as such a minor incident in the background that it never builds any suspense.

It's not even clear in its intent.  Since we see Madlock do a lot of horrible shit, it almost feels like the conclusion is supposed to be ambiguously cynical and dissatisfying.  But is this a case of somebody laughing and going, "ha, look at my satire about how these dumb idiots think they just got a happy ending, when actually things are worse now than ever before"?  Or is this just a case of somebody not realizing how terrible the rest of the movie's values are?

I just... I just can't.  Muddy morals bother me, bad politics bother me more, but boredom on top of all that?  My God.  I can't take it.  I need a Death Wish sequel, stat.

The Plot Summary - Lethal Justice, 1995

The film opens with some skeezy flashbacks courtesy of the film's antagonist, Teddy Johnson (Michael Luceri).  "Skeezy" maybe isn't the right word; more like "ambiguously creepy and tinged with possibly-misread sexuality."  So, actually, yeah, "skeezy" is probably right.  Anyway, Teddy is moping about toplessly in his bedroom in front of a framed picture of his deadbeat dad, whom we'll later learn is his hero.  Teddy keeps putting on a spaced-out "I'd fuck me" face and lunging back in forth a way that my filthy mind immediately read as masturbation, but which I think is meant to be him turning into some kind of animalistic embodiment of rage and sorrow.

Teddy does this a few times throughout the movie, sometimes accompanied by flashbacks to him as a kid.  I'm not sure exactly what we're supposed to take away from these scenes.  I'm pretty sure it's meant to be a window into his soul so you can see that he's an injured beast - his mom hasn't been the nicest and his dad left him when he was young, and his soul has ached ever since.

The thing is, none of his flashbacks are especially empathetic, nor do they ever make his childhood look particularly terrible.  I mean, his mom is a snotty jerk, sure, but she isn't abusive and doesn't really do very much.  The worst I recall seeing is that she stepped on one of his toy cars and broke it. The upshot of all this is supposed to be that Teddy's current state - that of a brooding sociopath who'll commit various felonies as the movie goes on - is the result of his tumultuous upbringing.

But I don't buy it.  You want Teddy to be some tragic Joker-esque villain who lives for chaos due to a shit childhood?  Show me some actual trauma.  Show me li'l baby Teddy getting locked in a closet for two nights because he accidentally spilled a cup of milk.  Show his mom burning him with cigarettes because he misspelled "Schenectady."  Don't show him pouting after his mom steps on what appears to be a cheap-ass Hot Wheel knock-off when he was four.  Especially not when we'll later find out that he's basically the richest kid in town and has a lawyer powerhouse of a mom who can threaten and browbeat anybody in town to bend to her will.

I only dwell on this because, as we're about to see, Teddy is a massive pile of shit, and I never fully understood what the movie was trying to do with him.  Lethal Justice is his movie, his journey, his conflict brought to light.  And because he's a turd, that really brings down the rest of the movie.

Anyway.  So, Teddy's got some ambiguous plot in the back of his mind that he's been trying to get going for awhile now.  He has a couple of goon buddies who revere him like The Don or some shit, and they unquestioningly follow his every whim.  Up to and including the inciting event of the movie, which is when he gets a hankering for teacher rape.

It's every bit as gross a scene as it sounds.  Teddy and Goon #1 go into Kathy Gleason's (Deirdre O'Neil) classroom and skulk around like comic book villains.  Then Goon #1 snatches a girl into his arms and holds a knife at her throat, threatening to cut her wide open unless Kathy follows Teddy into a book closet in the back of the class.  Kathy's principal concern is always her students, so she complies.  Then Teddy violently and loudly rapes her while the rest of the class listens and feels like shit for not doing anything to stop him.

Teddy's pretty proud of himself and, in the aftermath, keeps mugging at the camera wryly as if the rape is but one minor cog in the part of some grand master plan he's about to unleash.  Goon #1 doesn't have a clue what that plan might be.  In fact, he doesn't have much of a clue about anything - he actually seems shocked when a cop comes to arrest him like two hours later.  As in, "Wait, you can arrest me just based on the testimony of the twenty kids who witnessed me hold a knife at somebody's throat and facilitate rape?  Aren't there like warrants and shit?  No?  Aw, fuck."

While the cops go off to arrest Teddy, the hero of our story, Mike Trent (Michael Neeley, channeling Roy Scheider), goes to comfort Kathy.  Mike is an upstanding family man and a guidance counselor at Chesterton High School who serves as something of a moral cheerleader for the faculty.  All the teachers hold him in high regard and he functions as their mouthpiece when interacting with the administrative staff.  So, not only does Mike want to give support to Kathy in the aftermath, he also has words with their principal, Randy Preston (James Aubrey Haris).

Preston is a spineless twerp who either A) succumbs easily to pressure from high profile parents of Chesterton students, or B) doesn't want to anger anybody who might have a hand in the finances of the school, or C) both.  For those reasons, he is reluctant to do anything that might upset Teddy's mom, Pauline Johnson (Stephanie Scaduto).  Now, earlier I called her a lawyer, but if I'm being honest, I don't actually know if that's the case.  Pauline says a lot of crap that implies she's a defense attorney, but she's played ambiguously.  All that matters is that she's rich, she's powerful, and she can throw her weight around pretty easily to secure a consequence-free future for Teddy.

Over the next few scenes, we see the teachers of Chesterton High getting more and more agitated that Preston has been so slow to act in response to the rape.  And while that's happening, Pauline visits Kathy at her house and badgers her into dropping the charges against Teddy.  (Long story short, she implies that she'll drag all of Kathy's students' reputations through the mud if any of them testify against Teddy, and out of a desire to protect her kids, Kathy recants her testimony to the cops.)  The staff gets more pissed off when Teddy then shows up back at school that Friday, meaning that he essentially got a two-day suspension after brazenly raping a teacher.

From there, Teddy acts like more of an asshole and keeps trying to provoke people.  And as he does, more incidents break out throughout the school - fights and bullying and whatnot.  And Teddy keeps sneering and having vaguely masturbatory daydream sequences that all seem to be building up to some genius reveal of an epic endgame.  You honestly expect him to break out blueprints at some point and tell his goons, "Okay, now that we've raped Ms. Gleason and pissed off Mr. Trent, we can move on to destroying the library books.  After two more weeks of this, we'll have free lunches for the rest of the year!  Bwa ha ha!"

Mike and the other teachers, especially Tony Mafucci (Ralph Romeo), the gym teacher / swimming coach, are all understandably pissed off at the current situation.  They start to plot / daydream about cornering Teddy and mercilessly beating the shit out of him to teach him a lesson.  But professionalism and a desire not to get arrested get the better of them, so they sit on those feelings.  Until Teddy makes ominous threats and snide comments toward Mike's wife and toddler.

This leads to my favorite part, and possibly the only sequence that I might actually call "good."  The teachers all surreptitiously hatch a clandestine scheme to jump Teddy.  It's played up with the same kind of sly winkiness that you'd use to set up a Mission: Impossible action scene, with lots of knowing head nods and "we've only got one shot at this" dialogue.

The actual execution of the scheme turns out to be pretty straightforward.  Mike sets up a meeting in his office for Teddy, and then while Teddy is roaming the hall wasting time (which of course he would), Tony puts on a ski mask and follows him into the bathroom.  Then Tony proceeds to strangle Teddy and punch the shit out of him before slamming him face-first into a toilet.  Now, I know based on the ending that the movie is trying to present a non-violent message, and I understand that I'm essentially watching a grown man abuse a child in this scene, but I have to admit - this is one of the most gratifying beatings I've ever seen.  They should've made it longer.

Teddy ends up being briefly hospitalized in the aftermath and is forced to stay at home to recuperate.  He remembers no usable information from the assault to help the police with their investigation, so now we cue about ten minutes of him moping.  Eventually, Teddy remembers the smell of chlorine, and he pieces together that the only one strong enough to do this to him that would also smell like that is Tony, as he is responsible for the school's pool.  So, he sends Goon #1 and Goon #2 out to rough him up.

They jump Tony in the locker room that evening.  Tony defends himself pretty well and slugs the shit out of them a couple times, but then Goon #1 whips out a lead pipe and cracks Tony on the skull with it.  Tony immediately dies and the goons freak out.  When they report back to Teddy about the aftermath, Teddy makes some more ominous "I've got a plan" comments, but then Goon #1 tells him to go fuck himself.  They have a bad guy breakup, and Teddy leers into the camera skeezily again.

Cut back to the school.  Mike discovers Tony's body and calls the police.  Then he starts to panic, remembering Teddy's previous gross comments about his family.  Mike runs back to his house to check on his kids and finds that his son is missing, and there's a note from Teddy left on his bed that says something like, "Time to pray."

Mike goes to a church and finds his son inside being held at knife point by Teddy.  There's a lot of "you don't have to do this" / "you'll never understand me!" back and forth here, until eventually there's a break and Mike and Teddy fight.  The fighting ends, and then Teddy takes Mike's son up to a balcony in the church where they have more back and forth.  Then Teddy mopes one more time about how sad his life is because daddy isn't around, and he kills himself by jumping off the balcony.

Mike walks out the front door with his kid and meets up with an arriving police officer, and the movie fades out.  You guys... isn't violence, like, so sad?

What I Liked / Didn't Like - Lethal Justice, 1995

I don't want to rag on this movie for the normal failings of an obscure, low-budget production.  The acting's not excellent, the cinematography is average at best, the lighting isn't always great, and so on.  But on a technical level, it's very watchable.  It's well-made enough that none of those aspects bother me, nor would they be an issue if the plot was more engaging.

There are also little pockets in here where you can see the potential for a good movie.  Lethal Justice '95 is one of those "teenagers gone wild" movies where high school kids do over-the-top shit that virtually never happens in the real world.  Unlike most features in this subgenre, however - The New Kids or Tuff Turf or whathaveyou - it actually feels like it's grounded in reality.  Teddy doesn't get away with being a villain simply because "that's what the school is like" - he gets away with it because of a shitty administration and worse politics.  That makes this possibly the only "teenagers gone wild" movie I've seen where I actually believe the premise.

On top of that, the rape scene - which is gross and horrifying and usually would be the kind of thing that instantly sours a movie - is handled somewhat well.  Not the rape itself, but the aftermath.  Most movies like this use rape merely as motivation for the men to go out and fuck shit up, and while that's sort of what happens here, there's more to it.  You do actually get to see Kathy as a person both before and after the rape.  In the aftermath, there are quiet, sincere moments of drama where you see her grappling with how to regain her footing in life.  She has a scene where she balances her desire to see Teddy's face smashed in with her desire to keep her students safe and happy.  This is hardly a great movie, but honestly, this is one of the better and more sympathetic depictions of the aftermath of rape that I've seen in a Hipster Holy Grail movie.

And of course, there's that glorious scene where Teddy gets his face beaten.  So, yeah, there is some merit to this movie.

But all that said, this movie simply does not work.

There's lots of little stuff.  I glossed right over it in the plot summary, but there are a ton of cutaway shots of fantasies / historical re-enactments where you see the cast living out some alternate life as priests or knights or whatever.  I think those scenes are meant to be a metaphor for the present-day action and internal moral debates the character are having, but they don't quite come across that way.  Most of the time I just felt like I was missing something.

There's also a sorta-kinda-anti-violence message that never gets on its legs.  I appreciate the sentiment - I myself believe in non-violence.  But the problem is that we see all this horrible stuff happen and we never get a satisfactory alternate option.  Non-violence is simply the belief that violence should always be your last resort - it's not a free pass to let horrible shit slide.  And in Lethal Justice '95, all we do is see shit slide.  The right solution here would be to kick Teddy out of school and press all the charges in the world against him and then against his mother for obstruction of justice.  If you're not going to do that, then you're letting a violent sex offender freely walk around amongst children, which means everybody else is now fully justified to use violence when defending themselves or when intervening in any future criminal acts.  So... what are you trying to say, movie?  Are you preaching forgiveness even at the expense of safety?  I don't understand.

But ignore all that.  The main problem of this movie is Teddy himself.  He's such a sniveling, whiny, shit-ass loser.  He never comes across as menacing so much as he does obnoxious.  Sure, the rape was upsetting, but sometimes you forget it even happened simply because of how fucking whiny he is.

If he was more dangerous, then maybe the movie would have a low-key sense of dread and tension that builds up to the climax.  Or maybe if he was more cunning and you actually saw some master plan unfold, then you'd be terrified of what was coming next.  But he's none of these things.  He's just a little shit who sometimes rapes people.

And speaking of master plans - that's possibly the most disappointing thing in the movie.  Teddy talks a big game the way a lot of teenagers do.  He keeps alluding to something bigger than himself, the biggest thing this town has ever seen.  What?  Raping a teacher and then wearing eye shadow and talking about the darkness in your soul for the next two months?  That's not epic.  That's barely even a scheme.  And what's your endgame, exactly?  To prove how sad you are?  Seriously?

There isn't a big enough "fuck you" in the universe.

Teddy is one of the worst characters I've ever seen in any movie.  He's not sympathetic, he's not impressive, and all you want to do when you see him is kick him in the eyeball.  And that's a huge problem, because Lethal Justice '95 is about 70% Teddy's movie.  Mike may be the protagonist, but almost all his presence in the film - and everybody else's, too - is simply a reaction to Teddy.  If you're going to make this kid the driveshaft of your movie, you have to do something better with him.

I think the best way you could remake this movie is to kill the fucker off at the end of Act 1.  Let's pretend that Tony beat Teddy so hard that he dropped dead in that bathroom.  And then he goes to get Mike and the two of them hide the body in a panic.  You know what you have now?  Well, first of all, you have some actual lethal justice, so that's pretty good.  More importantly: you have a movie.

I would love to watch the Coen Brothers-esque misadventures that ensue from there.  Two teachers kill a shit-stain of a kid and have to keep his Machiavelli Mom at bay while covering up the murder?  That's entertainment.  And you can still work in an effective anti-violence message.

So Which One Is Better?

Ugh.  You know, when I first came up with the idea to do a string of justice movies, I really thought it was going to be fun to end on this double feature.  I kept thinking, "Haha, I have two movies named Lethal Justice that were both distributed by BCI Eclipse.  I should save these for a special occasion!  It'll be great!"  Somehow I had this idea that at least one of them would be enjoyably bad, if not surprisingly pleasant.

I don't know why I didn't expect both of them to be dull.  Maybe it's because last year I started to find a lot of fun movies as a result of doing the Hipster Holy Grail, including my new favorite bad movie, Parole Violators.  And somehow, in the fog of that joy, I forgot that something like 80% of the HHG movies I watch are pretty terrible.  I actually was not expecting to be in a position where both Lethal Justices were awful.

So.  I guess if I have to choose which one is better, I'd go with Lethal Justice '95.  Despite the rape and the presence of Teddy, the worst character in cinema history, there's at least stuff in it that feels new and unique.  I can't promise anything, but I suspect I'll actually remember Lethal Justice '95 a year from now.  I probably won't remember the specifics, but I'll go, "Wasn't there a weird movie in a private school or something where the teachers beat the shit out of some smug kid in a bathroom?"

I can't say the same for LJ '91.  In point of fact, I'm writing this review a few weeks in advance just to make sure I'm ahead of the game, and I can't even be sure that I'll remember LJ '91 by the time this post goes live.

So... yeah, Lethal Justice '95 is the better movie.  But let's be realistic.  Neither one of these is a recommendation.

How Much Hipster Cred Is It Worth?

Both movies are going to get the exact same score.  That's 50 points for obscurity (Each has less than 100 ratings on IMDb), 15 points for having a cast of nobodies, 5 points for having "Justice" in the title, and 5 points for being on a BCI Eclipse distribution.  That's a total of 75 hipster cred out of a possible 100 for each.

And since the suffering needs to be worth something, I'll say you get another 20 point bonus if you watch both movies back to back.  But... why?  Why would you do that?

Where You Can Watch

No, why would you do that?  I just told you not to watch them back to back.

Fine.  You can catch Lethal Justice '91 on the Bullet Wounds DVD set and Lethal Justice '95 on the A Thin Line Between Life and Death DVD set.  But don't.