The Glove (Ross Hagen, 1979)

posted in: Duane, Review | 0
A down on his luck bounty hunter comes across the opportunity to score $20,000  for a very large man who uses a riot glove to brutally beat his victims.
I need to warn all of our readers right now: The theme song to this film will get stuck in your head off and on indefinitely; seriously… it’s been bouncing around in my head off and on for the better part of a decade (there it is again…). In his directorial debut, Ross Hagen (B.O.R.N., The Hellcats) cobbles together the tale of struggling bounty hunter Sam Kellog (John Saxon; Enter the Dragon, Tenebre), barely scraping by due to a serious gambling addiction. When the opportunity arises to capture wanted fugitive/giant angry black man Victor Hale (Rosey Grier; The Thing with Two Heads) who has a $20,000 bounty on his head due to his proclivity toward trouncing off-duty prison guards half to death, Sam naturally jumps at the chance. There’s some padding involving Kellog’s gambling adventures where he bones some rich asshole’s wife (Joanna Cassidy; Blade Runner) and some melodrama about his daughter, but who are they trying to fool? We want to see people getting the snot pounded out of them with the armored glove of HATE!
It’s a solid premise, although a bit off the wall the way the film really focuses on the power of the riot glove. I mean it’s literally an armored glove filled with lead shot that weighs five pounds, not the fucking Jaws of Life… Not that you’d know it as it’s used to literally tear a car to pieces, smash holes in walls, splinter table, and make a toilet explode with a simple swat of the hand. The reverence placed on this fucking glove would almost make it seem like it has some kind of supernatural power – maybe it was sent down from Mount Olympus from Zeus Himself to become a physical manifestation of the plight of the black man or something. At any rate, Hale makes full use of this mystical mitt of malice and beats the fuck out of The Man (in the form of off-duty prison guards) when he’s not serenading children with his mad Jazz guitar skills.
If all the movie had to offer was some angry armored fist action it would probably have been a lot better, instead it turns into a mishmash of wasted potential. There’s not enough action to make up for Sam’s constant brooding and introspection, as he often takes to narrating the film from inside his head à la some kind of neo-noir opus that doesn’t have the depth to pull it off. The action sequences are full of WTF moments (actually, every single one has a bizarre element to it) including pseudo gay-bashing in a hot tub and a really silly fight scene in a meat packing plant complete with animal carcass nunchucks that also happens to be one of the most poorly choreographed battle scenes I have ever witnessed. I found myself daydreaming through much of the film thinking how much better this scene or that scene should have been. They even go so far as to write a theme song chock full of awesome “You can’t escape from the kiss and rape of THE GLOOOOVE!”, and there’s nothing of the sort in the film. It’s regrettable, as the whole riot gear thing would make for some awesome rape/murder action.
It’s not all disappointing, The Glove saunters along at a decent pace, and Saxon is always entertaining to watch. The film is well shot and the performances of all involved are believable and never too campy. For a film whose sole purpose is to showcase the titular weapon, it’s hard to believe that Hagen managed to NOT have a grandiose glove vs. glove final battle between good and evil, black and white, huge and not-so-huge; how such an obvious (and needed) climax could have been overlooked will likely remain a mystery.
Despite its indifference, Hagen’s film does have plenty of social commentary crammed in for good measure. Evil is only a matter of perspective, and maybe some violence is justified. The demonization of the black man by mainstream society is on trial here, and it’s up to the viewer to decide who the real monster is. The moral of the story is cleverly woven into the film and never comes across as heavy-handed (sorry) or preachy, which is always appreciated. The climax of the film is both tragic and uplifting; derisively pointing out how society is too quick to judge, and how lives can be so disposable in the name of the almighty dollar in modern-day America.
Those fans of genre cinema looking for something off the wall yet still managing to take itself seriously would do well to check out The Glove, even just to witness that ridiculously infectious theme song. This film will appeal to many a genre fan. After all; You can’t escape the kiss and rape of THE GLOOOOOVE…
Official COSDS Nunspank Rating: 
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Duane co-founded The Church of Splatter-Day Saints in 2005. When not immersed in film he's enjoying good whiskey, smoking meat in the backyard or thinking about sluts. He makes a damn fine habanero fire sauce.

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