Escape From New York (1981)

DVD Cover (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)
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Overall Rating 72%
Overall Rating
Ranked #959
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Connections: Escape From New York

In the future, crime is out of control and New York City's Manhattan is a maximum security prison. Grabbing a bargaining chip right out of the air, convicts bring down the President's plane in bad old Gotham. Gruff Snake Plissken, a one-eyed lone warrior new to prison life, is coerced into bringing the President, and his cargo, out of this land of undesirables. --IMDb
Kurt Russell
Kurt Russell
Lee Van Cleef
Lee Van Cleef
Ernest Borgnine
Ernest Borgnine
Donald Pleasence
Donald Pleasence
Isaac Hayes
Isaac Hayes
Review by Chad
Added: July 08, 2007
There are some characters which are, quite simply, iconic badasses. Rambo, The T-800, Dirty Harry, and Shaft are just a few examples of this, but for my money, nobody beats out Snake Plissken in the "you're going to get your ass whooped" department. Sure, he may not have had the huge guns and he may not have been the typical sex machine, but thanks to Kurt's screen presence and the way the character was written, nobody quite lives up to the standards he set in this film.

The year is 1997. In this distant future (alright, the movie is dated a bit), Manhattan has been transformed into one giant prison state due to the crime rate having soared over 400%. Instead of having multiple prisons across the country, the government has decided to just ship all of the criminals to this city, lock it down, and be done with these hooligans. Then, a plane carrying the president crashes into this wasteland of murderers and madmen. Talk about a bad day.

Enter Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell), a decorated war veteran who has just been arrested for robbing a bank. Top ranking officials for the government offer him a deal: get into New York undetected, rescue the president, and get out in one piece, and he'll be offered a full pardon for his crimes. Realizing that this is too good of an offer to pass up, Snake takes the deal and gets suited up for the mission... and he then discovers that a "vaccine" that he was given to aid him in his quest is actually a pair of microscopic time bombs which now reside comfortably in his neck. If he's not out with the president in twenty-four hours, these bombs blow. Now, our leading man must track down the president in this hellish place and get out alive... certainly no easy task when you consider the competition that he's up against.

For starters, let's just get this out of the way: Escape from New York features one of the greatest collections of cult icons in movie history. I mean, let's just look at the names that showed up in one form or another, shall we? We've got Ernest Borgnine, Donald Pleasence, Isaac Hayes, Harry Dean Stanton, Adrienne Barbeau, Tom Atkins, and Charles Cyphers... and that's not even the entire list! If that's not an impressive lineup, then I don't know what is. We've also got Carpenter-favorite Kurt Russell in the leading role, and the man certainly doesn't disappoint with this outing; the man brings his A-game to this film, and watching him drop his lines and beat down on the bad guys was nothing short of a treat.

Of course, we didn't plunk down our dollars to watch a bunch of guys and gals on the screen: we paid to see Manhattan transformed into an apocalyptic wasteland and some good action sequences, and both are delivered in spades. This film may have been low budget when compared to similar releases, but they did a damned fine job at creating a city that truly looked as through criminals and vagrants had lived there for years: fires burn endlessly along the streets, buildings are in shambles, and everything just looks delightfully dirty. However, a good backdrop will only get you so far, and that's where Kurt and the action sequences come into play. Kurt is allowed to run wild with the character here, and the character also gets plenty of time to be the badass that Kurt plays oh so well.

There's really not a whole lot more to be said. You've got a classic Carpenter flick, Kurt whooping ass and taking names, Adrienne Barbeau's cleavage taking on a role of its own, Isaac Hayes as the excellent counterpoint to Kurt's badassness, and of course, plenty of damned good visuals courtesy of this rendition of Manhattan. A true classic, no doubt about it. 10/10.
Ginose #1: Ginose - added 07/16/2007, 01:56 AM
Excellent movie. Personally, I beleive this was Kurt Russel's best performance. He performs a bad-ass so perfectally. Really, the plot was great, but you don't really even need it to enjoy the movie as well as I did... whatI just typed may not make sense, but I mean the acting was so strong... truly powerful performances all around. This is an action movie. A TRUE action movie. 9.5/10
Cryptorchild #2: Cryptorchild - added 08/03/2007, 09:02 AM
I had watched Escape From LA long before seeing this. I found this extremely cheap so I picked it up. It made me realize a few things: This is soooo much better than LA and you start to see how lame and repeitive LA is compared to New York. Anyway, I did enjoy this a lot. I'm not a big Kurt Russell fan as I think he lays it on a bit thick but it was alright in this movie. All in all I'd give it a 8/10.
Crispy #3: Crispy - added 07/23/2012, 11:24 AM
Seems to be a lot of nostalgia talking in these reviews. Yeah, I liked it, but it wasn't amazing. And I hated his whispering. 7/10
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