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"Nolan Kennard
George Cameron
Thomas Stern
Johnny Squares
Molly Fisher
Tony Engedal
Michael Cipriano
Harry Callahan"

The above list of names is a DEAD POOL--a macabre betting pool where the bet is who will die. And the last name on this list is SFPD Inspector "Dirty" Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood).

This list is the motivation behind this final film in the "Dirty Harry" franchise. Harry has to find the serial killer who made up this list, not only to save others on it, but to save--himself!!

Harry's new partner (his old partners have a habit of getting killed) is a karate wiz. I personally enjoyed the performance of the actor who portrayed Harry's partner (Evan Kim).

And yes, there is a famous car-chase scene in this movie. But instead of being between two cars, it's between a remote-controlled bomb (disguised as a remote-controlled toy car) and a conventional car driven by our hero.

I thought this chase scene was ingenious. This scene has many similarities with the famous chase in the Steve McQueen film "Bullitt" (1968) which also took place in San Francisco.

For some reason, this movie is underappreciated. The acting is good with top-notch performances from not only Clint Eastwood but from Liam Neeson, Patricia Clarkson, and Jim Carrey (his first non-comedy film).

Perhaps it's because of Eastwood's age (he was 58) that this movie is not appreciated. However, he appeared to me to be quite fit. Then, perhaps, people were just getting tired of this character. There are probably many opinions as to why this film is so underappreciated. (As Dirty Harry says in this movie, "Opinions are like a-holes. Everybody has one").

There are five movies in the "Dirty Harry" movie series. In my opinion, the best one was "Dirty Harry" (1971) and the most mediocre was "The Enforcer" (1976). Between these two extremes lies this film, "Magnum Force" (1973), and "Sudden Impact" (1983).

Finally, the DVD itself (released in 2001 and part of the Clint Eastwood collection) has five extras.

In conclusion, this is a worthy addition to the "Dirty Harry" movie series!!

<<Stephen PLETKO, London, Ontario, Canada>>

(1988; 1 hr, 28 min excluding end credits; wide screen; 31 scenes; rated `R')

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on August 26, 2012
We're told this is the fifth and last dirty harry on the commentary. It's an exciting commentary although they do say clint may come back for one more...i dont comment much on his acting since its an act which resonates so well with the public,who totally sympathize with with his characterization this former mayor of the previous film he sais he finds things in the city a bit tacky. This film of journalism...which is the heart of democracy,and what keeps cities from falling into degeneracy...journalisn and its troubles has been the source of such films as johnny come lately,deadline u.s.a. and Network..and many more...but this story still holds its own and the dialogue is still fresh. As usual there is much thrown in,murders,with knives and atrocities throughout,and harry kills about 14 people some in the back,there is a chinese partner,whom we are told at beginning of the danger and is maimed later on in film...harry puts away a mobster another theme,he's a person who wants to do his job,and puts his life on the line to serve the public and that's where journalism comes in which in the community is a public service,and the community would die without out,like all public services in the city. Anyways Harry doesnt like the press and refuses to deal with them but meets them anyways,he finds the press always going for the Scoop,a famous novel by the way,ratings,with the very attractive person he meets...but as the film goes on he warms up to them...perhaps he wants to draw them out. We also have some martial arts,during the time of bruce and jason lee and kung fu craze,but briefly,but violence is everywhere. Thee is a funny film in a film,where a film critic is assaulted and knife...well not funny. All these elements are thrown in and one final scene,and there are fires burning throughout the film,where an alleged criminal burns himself,but the press around dirty harry wont film him,showing his effect on the press..the commentators say much of the current system we live in is 'confined and constrained' by the court system...or something in the system. There are posters a few times showing 'evil are happy' they find funny the suffering of innocent people like the laughing lunatic,in other words lack appropriate affect...or have it in reverse. This is apparent at the end where commentators comment on harry potter..what has so demonized people...all kinds of people since harry goes it alone..there is an interlude where the journalist wants to profile harry..well journalists profile police before they profile criminals...she's already done that..but profiling nowadays is even more prevalent...and makes court cases that much more difficult to prosecute...the commentators who work with clint comment on the super efficiency of their star..and his work habits...these movies have aged well..and are relevant given the problems of our times!!
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This is the last of five "Dirty Harry" films in which Eastwood stars as a San Francisco police detective. By the time of its initial release (in 1988), Eastwood had aged and times had changed but Callahan's non-negotiaable values and unorthodox methods had remained essentially the same. In this film, he investigates a pool which attracts bets on which of eight celebrities will be killed. (Several are.) Although this basic premise is implausible, Callahan takes full advantage of every opportunity to accuse the news media of glorifying, hence encouraging (albeit unintentionally) serial killings by focusing so much attention on them.
Samantha Walker (Patricia Clarkson) is a case in point. Given the power of her personality on television and the thrust of her ambitions for a career in journalism, she is an obvious "target" for Callahan's criticisms of the news media. (Of course, she and he become involved romantically.) There are humorous elements and moments such as Liam Neeson playing a horror film director and the remote control toy car which pursues Callahan for several blocks, obviously a parody of car chases in Bullitt and other films. Lalo Schiflin's musical score is quite effective. Other than Neeson, however, most of the cast members seem listless under Buddy Van Horn's direction. (Yes, that's Jim Carrey in the role of Johnny Squares, one of the victims.) The fact that much of this film seems tired or recycled suggests to me that it's time for the Callahan series to be retire. It has been commercially successful while enabling Eastwood to refine his acting and (in Sudden Impact, 1983) directing skills. People are still buying or renting one or more of the five films, all of which also appear on television, so it looks like Callahan will be with us for many years to come.
Among the many reasons I admire Clint Eastwood so much is the fact that, as he as become older, he has allowed that to be indicated on screen; better yet, he has played roles appropriate to his age and addressed aging issues in many of them. Most other actors (and yes, actresses) star in many films over a period of many years during which the aging process takes its toll on them. However, given the skills of make-up specialists and what new cosmetic technologies make possible, these actors (and actresses) continue to portray characters many years younger than they. Often, older male actors are cast opposite a romantic lead young enough to be their daughter. That is seldom true of older female actors. By the way, I still think Erica Barry should have selected Julian Mercer rather than Harry Sanborn in Something's Gotta Give.
Apparently Eastwood agrees with Harry Callahan: "A man's got to know his limitations." Consider the evolution of the Eastwood persona from Tightrope (1984) through Unforgiven (1992), In the Line of Fire (1993), The Bridges of Madison County (1995), and Absolute Power (1997) to True Crime (1999) and Space Cowboys (2000). Hopefully other roles appropriate to Eastwood's age await his talents as an actor. As Mystic River (2003) clearly demonstrates, his talents as a director are undiminished by the 31 years since Play Misty for Me. On the contrary, they are greater now than ever before.
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on February 16, 2004
The death by overdose of a rock star Johnny Squares on the set of a low budget horror movie seems routine, that is until a member of the production crew is killed in an unrelated crime. It turns out that the rock star was on a betting list of sorts, whomever has guessed the most celebrities to die during production wins the 'dead pool'. Police Inspector 'Dirty' Harry Callahan, thanks to his recent arrest and conviction of a high profile mafioso, is on the director's list and he is not amused, especially when a psychotic has decided to tilt the pool in his beloved/hated director's favor.
The Dead Pool seems to be the last Dirty Harry adventure, which is a good thing. It lets this series go out with an entertaining sleeper hit of a movie. It has its tongue lodged firmly in cheek and, on several occasions, it comes close to making fun of itself. Still the suspense and action level is quite high and the pathology of the psycho killer is refreshing in its realism. Being the shortest of the Dirty Harry movies, it does not over stay its welcome. Highly recommended.
Trivia - This is the only Dirty Harry film that was not shot in widescreen. The three film clips that are credited to director Peter Swan are From Beyond the Grave (not Time After Time as the DVD trivia states), The Pack (not Cujo as the DVD trivia states) and It's Alive III: Island of the Alive. Believe me, I have them on video and know my horror movies. This is also the only movie in the series in which Harry has actually arrested a suspect and but him behind bars.
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on March 15, 2003
This is the weakest of all the series but it is a little like the original. There is a male serial killer in this one as in the original but he is not half as interesting as Scorpio in Dirty Harry.
As well as trying to find this serial killer, Harry is in trouble for putting a mob kingpin in jail and the mobboss sends his soldiers out constantly to kill him-if you can believe that. But Harry visits the mob boss in prison and tells Lou Genero, the kingpin, that if anything happens to him, one of the other prisoners who killed a bunch of men with his teeth, will pay a visit to Genero and it won't be a friendly one.So the assassination attempts cease and Harry beats up two guys following him, thinking that it was another hit. He soon discovers that they were now his bodyguards and Harry has just beat them up.
In the meantime Harry is investigating the serial killings, suspecting a movie director of the murders. Harry also tells him he doesn't like being on his betting pool called the Dead Pool, a betting system where people bet people in high risk jobs or situations will die soon. The movie director is exonerated and it is later learned that someone who wrote to the director many times is the killer.This killer kidnaps Harry's girlfriend, a reporter and Harry goes after them. But this time he doesn't kill him with his Magnum.At the end when the authorities arrive one cop asks Harry where the killer is, Harry says, "He's hanging out back there."
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on July 15, 2002
That phrase replaces "Make my day" and "This is a .44 magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world..." as the new one-liner in this solid final chapter to the classic Dirty Harry series.
When one sees a sequel to a movie as great as DIRTY HARRY (1971), you can't expect it to be as good as the original. But you can expect it to further evolve Clint's classic character and provide good action and deadpan humor. THE DEAD POOL delivers on both counts.
In this movie (which SCREAM 3 seemed to borrow heavily from) a murderer obsessed with the films of Peter Swan (played convincingly by Liam Neeson of DARKMAN fame), a horror movie veteran, takes his identity and begins to commit murders similar to those in the movies. Like in THE ENFORCER, the third part in the series, Inspector 'Dirty' Harry Callahan is teamed up with a minority for a partner to "make the department's image look better. However, the partner chemistry here is far less forced than in ENFORCER and is very entertaining.
THE DEAD POOL is a movie that will make your... well, you know the rest.
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on July 5, 2002
Clint Eastwood suits up for his fifth appearance as San Francisco Homicide Detective "Dirty Harry" Callahan, in this final installment of the popular action/crime series that began in 1972. Those involved with any successful franchise, of course, are usually able to discern when the game has been played out and the end is nigh, and audiences can sense it, too; and at that juncture, it is not out of character for those on either side of the coin to expect something special for that final exit-- a last, grand hurrah, as it were. And sometimes, it works; T.V.'s "Seinfeld," for example, did it right. On the other hand, after the final season of "Remington Steele," it was obvious even to the casual observer that it was allowed to go on one season too many. And, unfortunately, "The Dead Pool," directed by Buddy Van Horn, falls into the latter category. Since it first hit the big screen in 1988, to the present, even after years of video shelf life, it's obvious that this fifth offering of the "Dirty Harry" chronicles was just one too many.
Harry Callahan (Eastwood), after being instrumental in putting away a particularly notorious crime boss, has become something of a "media" star, and the department, naturally, wants to capitalize on some good press. But Harry, naturally, wants no part of it; the last thing he cares about is an "image" or a "profile." In any event, there's real work to be done-- during a murder investigation on a movie set, he's uncovered evidence of a potentially deadly game that's being played in certain circles. Each of the players has their own list of high profile "celebrities" from all walks of life, and the winner of the game is the one whose celebrities expire first, from natural causes-- or otherwise. It's a so-called "Dead Pool," and even more disconcerting to Harry is the fact that his name is on the list.
If there is such a thing as a "sure thing," it would be the next sequel in an already successful series like this one. Right out of the chute, it has all of the required elements that spell success: One of the most popular actors in the history of the movies (assuring a huge box-office) recreating an established character that has become an icon of the silver screen. But somebody should have reminded the filmmakers that there would be some legitimately high expectations for this one. Unfortunately, these "filmmakers" were thinking with their wallets rather than their brains going into this project. And it shows.
One of the major problems is the story itself, credited to Durk Pearson, Sandy Shakioucus and Steve Sharon, with screenplay credit going to Sharon, alone. It's no surprise that this is the only writing credit on their individual resumes. What is a surprise, is that Harry Julian Fink and Rita M. Fink, responsible for the character development in all five "Harry" films (Rita M., in fact, did the polished and incisive screenplay for the original "Dirty Harry"), allowed themselves to be credited on this one at all. This story/plot (such as it is) is weak to begin with, and more over, it's badly written. Add to that the fact that they've entirely abandoned any and all of the nuances that added so much to the previous "Harry" films: The snappy, expected banter between Harry and his superiors, that so succinctly puts Harry's iconoclastic philosophies into perspective while revealing the inept and illogical bureaucratic leanings of the department, for example (here, in fact, Harry's "superiors" have become little more than caricatures of those who preceded them); and their attempt at a catch phrase that would define this particular "Harry" adventure is so anemic it's not worth mentioning here (suffice to say there is nothing even close to a "You have to ask yourself a question, 'do I feel lucky?'" or a "Go ahead, make my day--"). And it's a shame.
Additionally, this film suffers from absolutely dreadful casting. Liam Neeson, as director Peter Swann, is barely tolerable; Patricia Clarkson lacks the spunk, looks and charisma needed to bring reporter Samantha Walker to life; Michael Currie, as Captain Donnelly, and Michael Goodwin, as Lt. Ackerman are laughably ineffective; Evan C. Kim, as Harry's new partner, Al Quan, shouldn't have made it past the audition; and David Hunt, as Harlan Rook, is the Woody Allen of cinematic psycho killers. Rarely will you find a big-budget film that is so miscast.
The fate of this film was decided, however, when stuntman Buddy Van Horn was slipped into the director's chair. Don Siegel, Ted Post and James Fargo were successful with the first three of the series, and Eastwood himself directed and made "Sudden Impact" a success. And he should have continued on in that capacity for this film. Van Horn may be a stuntman's stuntman, but being as objective as possible, he simply did not know how to make this material work. Drawing upon his roots, apparently, the best he could muster was to stage an ersatz "Bullitt" car chase involving a remote controlled toy car, including restaging (intentionally??) the famous Bullitt "spin-out" into the camera-- with the toy car! Van Horn's real failure, however, is manifested in the way he treats his characters as if they are nothing more than objects around which he can stage his action. The film lacks any tension or suspense whatsoever, and he creates about as much menace in his "psycho killer" as Bo Peep had amongst her sheep. And while Eastwood's performance is the high note of the film, Van Horn could have done more to keep his star on task; Callahan is not nearly as "enthusiastic" here, compared to his previous outings.
In the final analysis, the most interesting aspect of "The Dead Pool," is seeing Jim Carrey (billed as "James") in one of his first performances of note, as rock star Johnny Squares. Aside from that, this one just doesn't have the magic.
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on April 27, 2002
That's the main highlight for me in this otherwise ho hum finale to the saga of Eastwood's best ongoing character--Inspector "Dirty Harry" Callahan. There are those who would say I'm full of it--the Man With No Name rules--but I have to admit to a bias against horse operas--they bore me. However, I'm a shameless cop show junkie. So shoot me already. The main story about Harry investigating a series of murders apparently done from a hit list is predictable--he ALWAYS went after killers who whacked multiple victims. But the chase scene is possibly a reflection of the funny side of Eastwood. No great surprise there, Schwarzenegger found out that he's BETTER at humorous that at straight. But picture Harry thundering through the streets of San Fran in his Ford LTD, bottoming out in dips almost bad enough to lose a muffler--with a toy 'Vette in hot pursuit, whirring along, flying over rises and landing with a clatter. Of course this toy is loaded with plastique and another was used in a previous hit. It puts a whole new spin on the term "cruise missile". And the thing is operated by the passenger in a real car third in line--his job probably takes more skill than that of the real driver. I was falling out laughing. I had to rewind for a replay. I tell you, I bought this film as a Dirty Harry fan, but if I'd known about that scene, I'd have still bought the flick if I hadn't given a hoot about the series.
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on April 15, 2002
This little known Dirty Harry installment was directed by stuntman
Buddy Van Horn with style and skill. It's about a pyschopathic fan of horror movie director Peter Swan (Liam Neeson) who takes a "harmless" game called the Dead Pool that several people of Swan's cast were playing and turns it into a slashing nightmare.
Patricia Clarkson plays the conscientious reporter who gets the interview of her life..literally with the madman ..I forget his name
but he does a good job with the Holland Rooke character.
Mr.Jim Carrey who I think is his first feature film role ,although a small one plays Johnny Squares a drugged out rock musician.
Anyway the celebs on Peter Swan's list begin to die, and yep Harry Callahan is also on that list. The one show stealing scene is the madman and his souped up remote control car chasing Callahan and his Chinese partner thru San Francisco. Harry's boss deems him "good for the dept's image".
Best Line of the movie..Harry to his Lt. "you have any kids Lt?"
Lt.."me?"....Harry.."Lucky for them."
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on December 9, 2001
If ever there was a light-hearted Dirty Harry flick, 'The Dead Pool' is it! Although still quite hard-hitting, there were quite a few moments that made the final DH go-round a bit sillier than usual. The unusual car chase scene, Harry's visiting a mobster in San Quentin, and our hero's improvised weapon to take out the main scumbag are just a few of the moments that make this 'Dirty Harry' more happy-go-lucky than what you've come to expect from the genre.
Oh yeah, let's not forget the future stars in this flick, something for which the DH saga is well-known. Although 'Magnum Force' probably has the greatest number of notable future TV/film stars, this one has two of the most famous (Jim Carrey before 'In Living Color' & Liam Neeson before 'Star Wars Episode I'). Strangely enough, Albert Popwell, who made appearances in the first four DH movies (each time as a different character), is nowhere to be seen here.
Like the other Dirty Harry films on DVD, this one has far superior picture quality and sound compared to its VHS predecessors. Warner Bros. did a really good job remastering the sound and the video transfer! Unfortunately, there's not that many extra features- just a trailer and brief text about the production of 'Dead Pool'. Then of course there's the packaging: WB is still putting their DVDs out in cardboard snap sleeves, rather than the plastic keep cases that most other studios use.
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