The Butcher (2007): Breakdown by Rantbo
Aging mob enforcer is forced out to pasture. Takes the rest of the herd with him.
Much like Eric Roberts, Merle ‘The Butcher’ is an aging all-but-forgotten badass on the verge of forced retirement. A one-time prize-fighter and current mob enforcer, Merle is counting the days to his pink-slip (death certificate) and eagerly awaiting an opportunity to get out with a stash of retirement money, as he’s blown all his savings in long-shot gambles. Merle isn’t exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer, but what he lacks in brains, he makes up for in balls. Big, wrinkly, battle-worn manticles. Which he uses to pump himself up before shooting the shit out of his former employers. So naturally, THE BUTCHER is fun for the whole family.
Apparently, this flick was made about 2 or 3 years ago and even though it wasn’t really on the radar, it fell off it just the same. But, thanks to the Gods of Action, there is the glorious DTV market of under-appreciated hardcore violence gold. And l’m happy to say, THE BUTCHER delivers just that.
Almost the entire first hour is pretty low-key and mostly just features Roberts driving around with a chip on his shoulder. He held my interest by a thread with the kicking of an occasional ass, but I was starting to think this movie would be getting no more than a 5 outta 10, at best. But then, the killings began. Turns out good things do indeed come to those who wait.
There are 3 very bloody, very well shot, very kick-ass shootouts in the late second and third act, that easily made up for the lackluster first half. THE BUTCHER brought back memories of AN EYE FOR AN EYE and LEGACY OF RAGE and other Heroic bloodshed movies that fell just short of making it to a John Woo level of greatness. Not too shabby for an almost lost DTV actioner.
As far as recommending it, absolutely. It’s rare to see a well done shoot ‘em up now a days, especially one starring Eric Roberts, Robert Davi, Keith David AND Michael Ironside. Fuck Yeah. It’s not a perfect film, but after you get past the first act set-up, it kicks ass like a steel-toed boot. It’s definitely worth a rental, but I think I’ll personally be picking up a copy of the DVD for my collection.
[HOW BAD-ASS IS THE MAIN CHARACTER?]
Eric Roberts is Merle ‘The Butcher’ Hench
“Merle was a one-time gunman, one-time prize fighter. A man who now preferred a drink over a fight.”
“That left hand of yours could decapitate a grown man.”
[Stripper, after grabbing Merle’s crotch] “OH! Jesus, Mister!”
“There’s very few men who could beat you on the drop, Merle. [You’re] One of the old timers Merle—one of the greats.”
Weapons of Choice: Duel Gold Plated .45s “Tiffany company couldn’t do better.”
Vehicle of Choice: Black ‘69 Dodge Charger, with a full 40 magnum big block and the original super-b four speed. This car itself is more bad ass than most 00s Action ‘Heroes’.
Simply put, this is THE most badass character Roberts has ever played. And that includes Alex Grady. He’s a one-man fucking army and he even manages to wear a double-loop earring without looking remotely like a pussy.
[THE BODY COUNT: 31]
“It all comes down to fundamentals.”
The Butcher lives up to his name with a very satisfying 28 kills by way of the gun. It’s glorious. The other two are random bad guy hits via flashbacks on people we never met, nor cared about. BUT, one of those two is done by the hands of Michael Ironside, who amazingly enough is only in the film for like a minute and a half, but still manages to make a bloody good impression. Not too bad for a walk on role. [The final kill is a spoiler.]
[MOST SATISFYING DEATH]
The honors go to Random Thug Franco and his devoted portrayal of a zit popping (and yes, that mess was his head).
[DUDESWEAT AND MACHISMO]
None whatsoever. Eric Roberts is straighter than Peter North’s dick. However, he does turn down a duo-lap dance by two better than average looking strippers—but to be fair, he was working at the time and fuck paying cash for ass when you’re Eric Roberts and can get it for free.
[EXPLOITATION AND MISOGYNY]
As I mentioned above, there are a couple scenes at a strip club, but nary a nipple is shown and when the shit hit’s the fan, not one fake titty takes a lead injection. Even Roberts’ love interest keeps her bra AND panties on to fuck. Which is odd, considering that this was done independently and wasn’t rated by the MPAA. How they couldn’t find a handful of desperate F list “actresses” to flaunt their assets, is something I don’t understand and will never forgive the filmmakers for. Such a missed opportunity…
[EPIC MOMENT AND BEST ONE-LINER]
EP-M: Shootout at the OK Ka-Nipple
Coming back to the scene of the missing mob-money robbery, The Butcher attempts to make good and clear his name, by blaming the mess on Robert Davi. Which is only a half truth. As Merle was quite the opportunist and took a bag for himself, which the badguys happen to have on tape. He is, however, given an out by just returning the money he took. Awesomely, Merle says fuck that noise and earns his share in blood.
Making like a cowboy, Butcher wastes the launderer and his guard, grabs a machine gun from off the wall (why there was a fucking machine gun on the wall is a mystery, but it’s best not to ask questions when such good Action is afoot) and shoots his way out of the club. Though regrettably none were shown, this sequence was still the tits.
After The Butcher gets the drop on his would be backstabbing killer and blows his brains out onto a wall…
“I may not live long, Eddie—but I’m livin’ longer than you.”
[THE MORAL OF THE STORY]
Never gamble when you’re desperate—unless you’re Eric Roberts. In that case, do it. But wear a flack-jacket.
[THE CHECKLIST: 13 outta 25]
[ ] Athlete(s) Turned “Actor”
[ ] Clinging To The Outside Of A Moving Vehicle
[X] Crotch Attack
[X] Dialogue Telling Us How Bad-Ass The Main Character(s) Is/Are
[ ] Ending Featuring An Ambulance, A Blanket or A Towel
[ ] Factory/Warehouse
[ ] Giant Explosion(s)
[X] Heavy Artillery
[ ] Improvised Weapon(s)
[X] Macho Mode(s) Of Transportation
[X] Main Character Sports Facial Accessory(s)
[ ] Manly Embrace(s)
[X] Notorious Stunt-Man Sighting [Garrett Warren & Luke Lafontaine]
[X] Passage(s) Of Time Via Montage
[ ] Politically Fueled Plot Point(s)
[X] Senseless Destruction Of Property
[X] Shoot Out(s) and/or Sword Fight(s)
[X] Slow-Motion Finishing Move(s)/Death(s)
[X] Stupid Authoritative Figure(s)
[X] Substance Usage and/or Abuse
[ ] Tis The Season
[ ] Torture Sequence(s)
[ ] Unnecessary Sequel
[ ] Vehicle Chase(s)
[X] Vigilante Justice
“OH! Jesus, Mister!”
The Butcher © World Films and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment