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When Detective Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood) stops an armed robbery in his usual way—with all guns blazing—he gets demoted from homicide to personnel. There he meets wannabe detective Kate Moore (Tyne Daly), who is being groomed for the job under the Mayor of San Francisco’s affirmative action policies. When terrorists rob a munitions warehouse and kidnap the Mayor, Callahan is quickly called back to action—with Moore as his new partner.

Review by Stuart Whitmore:
Five years on from Dirty Harry, The Enforcer is the third film in the quintet featuring Clint Eastwood’s craggy detective, and already the slide in quality is marked. Lazily plotted, acted and directed, the violence is upped several notches to compensate but nothing can raise this above the quality of a TV special. Harry, a borderline Robin Hood figure in the original, is by now shaping up into the right wing reactionary that spawned a thousand Rambos. The enemy this time is not a lone psycho but a bunch of leftie hippies intent on overthrowing the authorities. Originally a man who bucked the system to do right by the people, Harry now becomes the establishment’s enforcer, sent in to cleanse society of these degenerates and rescue the Mayor. He’s a man who spits the word "minorities" and thinks nothing of pulling a gun on a priest in the confession booth because he favours prison reform. No wonder Harry became a pin-up boy for the NRA.

The casual sexism and racism of the original, where women existed to be raped, murdered and disrobed and all the blacks robbed banks, becomes the central feature of The Enforcer’s mean spirited storyline. Here the blacks are all jive-talking militant revolutionaries with big afros who hang around in a Mission district barber shop and harass women. The appearance of a pre-Cagney and Lacey Tyne Daly is supposed to be a moment of equal opportunity. Callahan is taken to task for his "Neanderthal ways" in much the same way that Pierce Brosnan’s Bond would later be criticised as a "sexist misogynist dinosaur" in Goldeneye. But Moore’s presence is instead used as an excuse to poke fun at affirmative action policies and the frigid feminists and pinko politicians behind them. Sure Moore wins Harry’s respect in the end (hooray, Daddy approves of me!), but the key moment is when she points out the phallocentric appearance of San Francisco’s Coit Tower and mocks Callahan’s beloved .44 Magnum as a weapon chosen for its penetrative abilities. She uses the language of feminism but the whole exchange comes off like two guys making nob jokes. It’s no accident that their new understanding is marked by the line "Wanna get a couple of beers?" It’s all a bit distasteful and even as a straight action film The Enforcer lacks any of the verve that made the original such a good ride. For Eastwood completists only.

Published January 31, 2002

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You can buy it HERE - next day delivery within Australia

(US) (1976)

CAST: Clint Eastwood, Harry Guardino, Bradford Dillman, Tyne Daly

DIRECTOR: James Fargo

RUNNING TIME: 93 minutes

SPECIAL FEATURES: Widescreen; Harry Callahan/Clint Eastwood: Something special in films; Theatrical trailer; Cast and crew. Languages: English 5.1, French, Italian. Subtitles: English, French, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, Arabic, Spanish, German, English for the hearing impaired, Italian for the hearing impaired.

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Warner Home Video

DVD RELEASE: November 20, 2001

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