Blue Underground is releasing Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence for the first time in 4K Ultra HD. Concurrent with the 4K version of Maniac Cop 2, Maniac Cop 3 includes a Blu-ray disc full of extras. Considered a disappointment by some, it’s still a cult film with fans willing to experience new and improved versions.
Maniac Cop 3 was born from an idea by Larry Cohen. What ended up in the film is an entirely different story. Cohen’s intent was to make a Bride of Maniac Cop movie. His plans also weighed heavily on his girlfriend, Laureen Landon (Maniac Cop 2), to play the bride. One of the more interesting special features is a full synopsis of Cohen’s story. He’d always considered Maniac Cop a franchise. Cohen’s original finale for his bride story ended with a reason for another installment: Son of Maniac Cop.
Major changes were needed to the script, however. Japanese investors were not keen on having a black lead in the film. Cohen’s script specifically called for a black lead detective. In order to secure the film’s funding, Lustig was forced to rehire Robert Davi in the lead role opposite Robert Z’Dar as the titular monster. The original story now made no sense with Davi cast, so a rewrite was needed immediately.
Cohen apparently wanted to be paid again if he had to write another script. While it seems he was being uncooperative, producer Joel Soisson claims that Cohen tried to dictate a script over the phone. Soisson wanted it in writing, thus got stuck having to do most of the re-write himself.
The film became even more of a struggle as Lustig lost full creative control. He had also just been fired as director of True Romance, a project he spent a year working on. Depression was making it difficult to continue as he had started to lose his passion as a filmmaker.
Lustig quit in the middle of production and Soisson was left to put the pieces together. The first cut of the film was only 51 minutes and they were contractually obligated for a good 30 more. Soisson was not the same kind of director as Lustig. Lustig was able to conceptualize original action sequences. Soisson, at most, was writing dialogue for filler.
The saving grace in this film is a carryover from the other two Maniac Cop movies. Spiro Razatos once again provides a couple great stunts that serve as the most memorable moments in Badge of Silence. His skills have only improved as his career continues to build. He’s worked on a couple Marvel movies and a number of films in the Fast and Furious franchise, the pinnacles of today’s big budget stunt work.
Lustig’s experiences around the time he worked on this film would eventually lead him to walk away from directing. As a distributor, he remains a part of the business while gaining the control he would have preferred as a director. While great at both, his second act is less of a gamble and more a labor of love.
Related Post: Maniac Cop 2 [Blue Underground 4K UHD Review]
Lustig’s work at Blue Underground has resulted in some fantastic restorations. Classics from filmmakers like Cohen, Dario Argento (Inferno) and Lucio Fulci (The House By The Cemetery) have been brought back to life and upgraded in quality. Adding his own films to the library seems like the only solution for the future of his old flicks.
With control of restoration and distribution, Lustig also manages the special features. Maniac Cop 3 has all the expected additions a fan would hope to find. There’s a poster and still gallery, a handful of lackluster deleted scenes, audio commentary and a making of featurette. It’s not as robust as the Maniac Cop 2 rerelease, which is only fair as it is the inferior film.
“Wrong Arm of The Law: The Making of Maniac Cop 3” is a short doc on Badge of Silence. Cast and crew are interviewed in recent years about their experiences and opinions. Most of the cast think back fondly on the film. They’re still proud to have been a part of it and consider it a good movie years later.
Lustig, Cohen and Soisson all share a less positive experience making Maniac Cop 3. In fact, it may be the only thing they all agree upon about the film. There may have been some animosity between the collaborators since production, but cooler heads have prevailed.
Lustig and Soisson teamed up for the audio commentary, recorded in June of 2021. They laugh about their bad experiences and reminisce about how the production played out. It’s fascinating to learn some of the drama and a relief to see that it can end with people making amends.
Maniac Cop 3, given the circumstances behind it, is likely the best possible product that could have been made. It lacked inspiration. But with the magic of editing and the credentials of the first two films, Maniac Cop 3 is still entertaining. Ignore the plot and you’ll manage to enjoy this hackneyed adventure. If anything, the 4K restoration is proof that there is always room for improvement.