When a couple are blown up by a car bomb, their son, a retired Green Beret named Slaughter (Jim Brown) goes gunning for revenge. “The Man” gets Slaughter to agree to go to South America, and for reasons that defy logic, work for the FBI. Slaughter is paired with two agents (Don Gordon and Marlene Clark) and gets on the bad side of a hotheaded mafia chief (Rip Torn) by getting cozy with his woman (Stella Stevens).
Directed by Jack Starrett, from a script by Mark Hanna and Don Williams, this American International Pictures release is a bucket of dumb fun that benefits hugely from Brown’s screen presence and by Starrett’s energetic direction.
Starrett would next direct Cleopatra Jones and Ride With The Devil, and shows real flair as an action director, not only executing action sequences in anamorphic frame, but doing so with style. Several choice moments of beat down are purposely distorted, as if the Hulk were stretching the sides of the screen. For other moments, the film is undercranked, which can look cartoonish if done for too long, but Starrett’s flourishes give the movie a visual wit the script completely lacks.
There’s no script here, at least not one that makes any kind of sense. The plot involves the mob – for unexplained reasons (probably budget) are headquartered in South America – using a computer to store records. Slaughter’s father knew about the computer and was killed. Slaughter’s surveillance technique involves making himself a target for mafia hoods, whom he dispatches with a .45 one at a time. The dialogue is a flat tire and the characters behave in a way that defies explanation, even for a Blaxploitation flick.
Rip Torn is woefully under used as Mister Big. In his final scene, he admits to killing Slaughter’s parents and throws in a racial slur for good measure, before asking Brown to help him out of an overturned car. Not the most intelligent villain in the history of film. Naturally, he doesn’t make it.
On a positive note, the musical score by Luchi de Jesus is good, and Billy Preston provided the decent theme song. There is a stylish opening credits sequence that kicks things off on the right note as well. Between Brown’s ease playing a superhero, and Starrett’s ability to capture the action, Slaughter is fun enough to recommend. Jim Brown would return in the sequel, Slaughter’s Big Rip-off.