by Anthony King
In director Lewis Teague's third feature, Fighting Back (1982), Tom Skerritt plays Italian grocer John D'Angelo. His wife Lisa (Patti Lupone) is pregnant with their third child, John's elderly mother lives with them, and it all seems quite idyllic. While driving home from a going away party for a friend, the D'Angelos see a pimp beating a woman. Lisa calls out to the pimp and tells him to stop. She gets out of the car and the argument escalates. After John gets his wife back in the car, they go on their way and soon realize the pimp is following them. A high speed chase through the neighborhood streets of Philadelphia ensues and ends in a car wreck where Lisa miscarries. The next night John's mother and son are caught in a robbery at the pharmacy across the street where the elder D'Angelo's finger is cut off. Soon after the D'Angelos' house is broken into and their dog killed (TW: while we don't see the actual act, the picture of the mutilated dog is quite jarring.) This is where John draws the line. The police are overworked and neglect the Italian neighborhood so crime runs rampant. John and his friends start the People's Neighborhood Patrol (PNP), a neighborhood watch that spills over into vigilantism.
Fighting Back opens in a television studio control room with two reporters cutting together a newsreel akin to The Killing of America (1981) or America Undercover before introducing our protagonists. The few times this sub-plot is included seems inexplicable and, quite frankly, heavy handed. Add this to the fact that the PNP first targets people of color, and how John ends up running for political office, it all seems like propaganda, albeit in an exploitative manner. That said, Fighting Back is pretty damn great. Skerritt is incredible in the role of a man who's had enough. Unlike his Alien (1979) co-star Kotto, I've never found Skerritt to be an intimidating presence who can convincingly embody a tough-guy role. While he's not necessarily a tough guy here, John D'Angelo is certainly a loose cannon, and Skerritt persuasively plays a human powder keg. The final shot of the film is the perfect exclamation point to end Fighting Back.
High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray presentation
Original lossless mono audio
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
“Enough is Enough!” – A new interview with director Lewis Teague (29 min.)
“Danny-Cam” – A new interview with camera operator Daniele Nannuzzi (22 min.)
Double-sided fold-out poster featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Luke Insect
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Luke Insect
Illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by critics Rob Skvarla and Walter Chaw, and a career-spanning interview with director Lewis Teague
Blu-ray release date: July 5, 2023
96 minutes / 1982
PCM Mono (Engish)
Subtitles: English (SDH)