John Eastland (Robert Ginty) listens in on the police radio band of an evening, not for pleasure but to make sure he knows where the crimes are happening in this area of New York City where he lives, for he is known as The Exterminator, a vigilante who has his own manner of wiping the scum from the streets. So it is that tonight he arms himself yet again and goes after members of a gang who have robbed a convenience store and murdered the elderly owners in cold blood: the criminals soon regret their actions when he steps up to confront them...
Being incinerated by a flamethrower will do that, in this, the sequel to the grindhouse cult hit The Exterminator which had as its most abiding scene the hero feeding a bad guy into an industrial meat grinder. As you may have worked out, this was one of those vigilante movies where the sole reason we excuse the protagonist his crazed killing spree of atrocities is because the bad guys commit similar acts of sordid violence against the innocent - and his friends, too, so we could have that "This time it's personal!" theme to the proceedings. However, while it was filled with crunchy effects and thirst for blood, somehow there was little quite as memorable here.
That in spite of the original not being much of a classic in the first place, but at least Ginty put in a convincing portrayal of a nice guy driven by the sickness around him to not-so-nice deeds. This sequel was brought to the world by Cannon, a studio who never met a cash-in opportunity they didn't like, and when their Death Wish follow-up had commanded impressive takings at the box office they ordered a similar sequel to the James Glickenhaus movie - without the participation of Glickenhaus himself. Instead it was the producer of the first movie Mark Buntzman who stepped in to direct, write and produce.
The results could have been any of the identikit Cannon template for action movie making: essentially as long as the bullets flew and shit blew up real good, the producers were satisfied they were giving the audiences what they wanted. One quirk of this was its depiction of the urban underclass assembling under a charismatic leader - in this case X, played by Mario Van Peebles with a variety of hairdos - and rebelling against (Ronald Reagan's) society, which was fast becoming a cliché in the genre during this decade, whether it was in thrillers or science fiction, hell, even Batman had such an encounter in the comics with the miniseries The Cult around this time.
This would have appeared to have been ushered in by works such as Mad Max 2, which not so coincidentally influenced the fashion sense of the baddies as well; you were nowhere in these things if you didn't sport leather, preferably with studs, and the presence of shoulder pads would not be amiss either. As for The Exterminator, he dressed in a bulletproof jacket and welder's mask to preserve his identity, lustily setting the villains aflame but still finding time to befriend garbageman Frankie Faison whose truck is customised into a formidable tanklike vehicle for the grand finale. Then there's nice dancer Caroline (Deborah Geffner) the love interest who is such a decent sort she doesn't take her clothes off when stripping in the local bar; when we hear this Flashdance-reminiscent hoofer has a big audition which will surely lift her out of this hellhole, it's a matter of counting the minutes until her demise. So the mayhem was enthusiastic (as was the breakdancing), but when everything else might as well have been cardboard it had meagre impact beyond the basic spectacle. Music by David Spear.