Dave checks out a more subdued outing for father and son team Patrick and Sean Donahue, which nevertheless has enough leg-breaking lawlessness to satisfy most action aficionados.
If you’ve ever been lucky enough to cross paths with father and son team, Patrick and Sean Donahue, then it’s most likely been through They Call Me Macho Woman! (1989), a gleefully raucous actioner that was put out by Troma. Cheap and cheesy, it formed a template for the pair that would see them use their stunt and fighting prowess as a basis to crank out a handful of endearing, if occasionally prosaic, pictures.
Parole Violators (1994) is unquestionably their crowning achievement. Deserving of a place alongside Amir Shervan’s Samurai Cop (1991) as a direct-to-video movie that stands above its peers due to its head-shaking exorbitance, Parole Violators is a long way from the more sedate and rudimentary ROUGHCUT – despite them being made during the same year, and the latter being prone to similar moments of squib-popping insanity.
Garrett (Sean P. Donahue) is a disc jockey at KSJO 923 and he’s partial to the occasional hunting trip with his buddy, Pauly (Bill Anderson). However, on their latest excursion, they witness a gangland-style execution by John Caine (Richard Lynch) during a diamond deal that goes horribly wrong. Instantly they become the hunted, and when Pauly gets killed the police show minimal interest in nailing Caine for the crime (“You spin the records, I’ll do the detective work”), so it’s up to Garrett to deliver his own brand of justice.
Far from your archetypal ‘90s scuffle star, Sean Donahue is Dudikoff lite. Smartly dressed in an open-necked shirt, this mulleted hero is more accountant than action performer, but he’s also effortlessly likeable. The stunts and action sequences carry the film but considering his and Patrick’s history in terms of on-screen daredevilry, their limber moves and a familiar team of stunt folk ensure a plentiful supply of flying fists and tender tumbles. Lynch typically chews each scene with all the subtlety of a starved polar bear – more so given his cream linen suit – and he’s the perfect antidote to what would otherwise be a thinly-plotted picture with an absence of weighty characters.
The setting for the film is in the visually agreeable town of Los Gatos, California, which today houses the headquarters for streaming behemoth Netflix, and the music score comes from the multi-talented Jimmy Lifton, who shortly after Roughcut would go on to pen some low budget sci-fis in the shape of Phoenix (1995) and Firestorm (1997).
USA ● 1994 ● Action ● 97mins
Sean P. Donahue, Richard Lynch, Patrick G. Donahue ● Dir. Sean P. Donahue ● Wri. Sean P. Donahue, Shawn Flanagan, Marty Sheridan
Updated with corrections on 17/10/21