Mace (1987)


MACE a.k.a. DEAD AIM is the story of Detective Malcolm “Mace” Douglas (Ed Marinaro).  He is a tough as nails vice detective who was busted down from homicide lieutenant for spraying mace down a suspect’s throat during an interrogation–hence the nickname.  His partner, Lt. Mark Cain (Darrell Larson) is on his way up through the department as Mace is on his way down.  Where Mace is coarse, violent and unpredictable, Cain is clean cut, finessed and by the book.  Jamal (Isaac Hayes) is an independent crime lord who finds himself caught between the police and other expanding gangs.  The Puerto Ricans are trying to take his turf and the Russians are trying to take his life.  A routine drug bust turns violent and turns into a case of international intrigue upon further investigation.

Drinks and tips flow freely as the girls of Fool’s Paradise shed their
clothes.  Unfortunately the girls have gotten themselves into a heap of trouble.  Drugs and state secrets are being traded and several of the city’s exotic dancers are being murdered as a result of the espionage.  Mace is hot on the heels of the criminals but they are protected by the shield of diplomatic immunity and he is Eventually called to heel by the Feds and finds himself with a lot on his mind and nothing to do.  The chief unleashes Mace to do what he does best after three of Atlanta’s finest are cut down in the line of duty.  Is Mace out for justice or is he after revenge?  

MACE is pretty much non-stop from beginning to end.  Most of the action takes place in a strip club or on the seedy crime ridden streets.  There is some time in the spent in the bullpen but this movie isn’t about a bunch of folks sitting around talking.  There is stripping and shooting going on pretty much the entire runtime.  In one well done intercut scene Jamal is busy trying not to get his ass shot off and slinging lead at the Russians as Misty is shaking her goods on stage.  The opening foot chase is a fun throwback with the banter Mace slings at the creep he’s chasing.  The final scene involving the vice sting squad is filled with tension even though it is nearly blown by someone’s overacting…Clichés abound when the chief bellows orders and admonishments at his officers and Mace is a loose cannon who is eventually forced to surrender his badge and piece.  There are many others and it is kind of fun to watch for them.  See if you can spot the stripper with a heart of gold, enemy agents posing as diplomats, screaming and frustrated chief, Feds calling jurisdiction etc… It’s a good time as is MACE as a whole. 


As for the acting its pretty good.  Ed Marinaro is the loose cannon that gets results and he plays the hulking beater well.  Corbin Bernsen plays a vice detective who quips that he has two semesters left in law school and then he’s leaving police work behind.  A little joke for the audience because MACE was filmed while Bernsen appeared in the popular series L.A. Law.  Believe it or not it is Bernsen who comes across the worst in this film.  He overacted horribly when he was playing nervous and frightened Veteran character actor William Sanderson (Newhart’s Larry) appears as a criminal lab technician who gets little screen time.  Likewise, Isaac Hayes has little screen time but he is a total bad ass when he is on camera.  

The original negatives for the film were thrown away years ago so the feature is presented in 1.33:1 full frame from the best surviving source.  The quality is very good with rich colors and excellent sound.  The transfer only shows artifacts in one or two places. The Code Red DVD features a commentary by William VanDerKloot.  There is a forced trailer for THE KING OF KUNG FU before the menu and then trailers for DEATH MACHINES, THE POLICE CONNECTION, JUST BEFORE DAWN, TEEN LUST: THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, RAW FORCE, and THE UNDERTAKER are accessible through the menu.  MACE is available directly from Code Red’s Big Cartel webshop. 

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