Review Date: January 3, 2001
Released by: Anchor Bay Entertainment
Release date: July 11, 2000
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 1.85:1 | 16x9: Yes
It's been rough for Vietnam vet Kyle Hansen (Dirk Benedict
). A special forces commando, he was captured by the enemy twice, escaped twice, and was locked up in a mental ward when he got back to the States. Now, homeless and destitute, Kyle has been roaming the south for over a year. Wandering into a small town one day, local businessman Sam Bellows (Ben Johnson
) notices that Kyle is wearing the same type of special forces jacket that his son Jake, who was declared MIA, was issued. Bellows asks Kyle if the man knew his son, but gets no response.
Trying again, Bellows sends a couple of his employees to go ask Kyle about Jake. However, Kyle goes berserk, injuring one man and throwing another into off a bridge into a river. He runs and hides in the woods. The local sheriff (Richard Farnsworth
) and his deputy Dave (Jon Van Ness
) show up, but the man tricks them and steals their car.
The next morning, Mr. Bellows is leaving his ranch when he spots the sheriff 's car parked on his property. When someone tells him that Kyle stole the vehicle, Bellows calls the sheriff and gets together some of his workers to go out to round the vet up. Meanwhile at the ranch, Kyle meets Jenny (Linda Blair
), Bellows' daughter-in-law, who lives there with him and her son Bobby (Bobby Hughes
). After looking at a picture of Jake, he tells her that he never knew him.
When the men show up at the ranch, Kyle steals a dirt bike leads them on a cross-country chase. After he outwits them, the sheriff decides to leave well enough alone and not bother the guy any more. However, Kyle begins to develop a close friendship with Jenny - she's even able to get him to shave and take a bath - much to the dismay of Dave, who has romantic intentions for her. Gathering the local rednecks together, they plot to get rid of the vet their own way, not realizing the kind of force they're about to unleash when they go after Kyle...
I wasn't expecting that much from Ruckus
, probably because the whole "Crazy 'Nam Vet" idea has been done so much (e.g., First Blood, Combat Shock
, etc). However, I was pleasantly surprised by the film. Unlike those other movies, it's not grim or disturbing in the slightest, and plays mostly for laughs. The violence has also been turned down quite a bit - there are fights, exploding cars and shooting, but nobody is ever killed, or even really hurt that badly. With only a PG rating, it's the kind of movie that you could watch with your kids and not feel uncomfortable.
The actors also do a very good job, although Dirk Benedict's performance is a weak point. In the early scenes where Kyle is a filthy, anti-social bum, he's fine, but as he transforms into a more animate (and cleaner) character, Benedict is less believable. Linda Blair is very sweet as Jenny, and it's hard to believe she was vomiting and screaming obscenities in The Exorcist
a decade earlier. Kleven also made a wise move in casting seasoned professionals Richard Farnsworth and Ben Johnson, as well as a number of stunt men in the redneck roles, who are very amusing to watch.
The film is letterboxed at 1.85:1, and is enhanced for 16x9 TVs. The image is a weaker presentation than many other films of this age. It often looks rather soft, and doesn't have as much detail as one would hope. Colors are generally natural, but flesh tones seem oversaturated, giving people's faces a pinkish tint. The print is in very good shape, but there were a few times during the film where, for several seconds at a time, the entire image was covered with scratches and specks. It's almost as if someone had taken sandpaper to the film elements during those times, and is rather distracting.
The audio is in Dolby Digital Mono 2.0, and sounds very good. There was no background noise or distortion, and the sound effects were reproduced faithfully, which really helps suck you into the action. Dialogue was clear and always easy to understand. No subtitles or alternate audio tracks have been provided.
Anchor Bay has provided a commentary track with Max Kleven, Dirk Benedict and Linda Blair. It's pretty enjoyable, and the three are obviously having a good time, and provide a lot of humor and insight into the movie. Benedict and Blair do most of the talking, with Kleven mostly responding to their comments. There are some quiet spots here and there, but they don't last long.
There are also brief (very brief) talent bios and filmographies for Kleven, Benedict and Blair.
I found Ruckus
to be a great little action film, one that is much more obscure than it deserves to be (according to the commentary track, it didn't even get a theatrical release). It's definitely a movie that you can enjoy with the entire family, so check it out.
Movie - B+
Image Quality - B-
Sound - B
Supplements - B-
- Running Time - 1 hour 32 minutes
- Rated PG
- 1 Disc
- 22 Chapter Stops
- Dolby Digital 2.0
- Commentary by Director Max Kleven and Stars Dirk Benedict and Linda Blair
- Talent Bios