One of the greatest action performances of the 90s is T.I.G. in ‘Excessive Force’ (1993).
In 1993, the best ax kick in movies belonged to a former soap opera star named Thomas Ian Griffith, who parlayed his black belts in Kempo and Tae Kwon Do into a series of starring roles in action movies that began with Excessive Force.
Thomas Ian Griffith Gets “Excessive”
From a script he actually wrote, Griffith plays Chicago cop Terry McCain, who’s hot on the trail of a mobster played by Paulie from the Rocky movies. During a drug bust where McCain literally kicks and shoots everybody in attendance, three million dollars in a duffle bag walks off, and the mob wants it’s money back.
Members of McCain’s team start turning up dead, and he gets suspended from the force. But not before being told to go do what’s he needs to do. What follows has McCain spin and crescent kick his way through his adversaries in the longest sustained violence that wasn’t topped until Steven Seagal walked into a bar in Out For Justice and asked “Anybody seen Richie?”
I don’t think I would be ruining the movie by telling you McCain was betrayed by a couple of dirty cops in bed with the mob. But in the end, everybody pays a steep price with the main villain getting fly kicked off a roof. Blink and you’ll miss the Don’t Mess With The Zohan kick.
An Ultimate Action Classic
The critique of action movies is usually in the acting. Not so here. If there were Oscars for action movies, this one would have won a slew. Griffith pulled off a mullet, an earring and lines like “Die with a little dignity” with ablong. In addition to Burt Young, he was joined by James Earl Jones and always creepy Lance Henriksen. The movie was also filmed in Chicago rather than Toronto, which makes it dear to my heart.
If he looks familiar, in addition to a couple of years on the soap opera Another World, Griffith played the corporate bad guy in Karate Kid 3, took on Kevin Sorbo in Kull the Conqueror, and stared in a bunch of straight to video action movies that even I don’t care to review. Last I remember seeing him was as the bleach haired villain in Timecop 2.
Bring Excessive Force Action Back!
We do need a reunion movie of martial arts actors that we thought were the coming thing, but failed to live up to their potential. In addition to Griffith, I would cast Jeff Speakman, James Ryan, Lorenzo Lamas, and Brian Bosworth. Hell, add Mickey Rourke and even Steven Seagal to that list. After all, everybody loves a comeback!
This author wishes to maintain his secret identity goes by the name of his favorite comic book hero Iron Fist. When he’s not collecting comics from his childhood, watching action movies or raising his three kids, he works a a police officer, trains Muay Thai, Jeet Kune Do, Kali and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Needless to say, he takes poor martial arts or sloppy gun handling skills personally. And he lives and trains in Chicago.
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