It's 1988 crime has taken over New York City. The government unable to control the crime, gives up and just builds a security wall around the whole place. The Island of Manhattan becomes a high security jail and the rest of the state is run by the criminals who inhabit it. Those not in jail, but in the city, roam free. They have formed various gangs who have claimed territories and control just about everything. Including, for instance, gas which is as valuable as gold. Fast forward to 1997 when the lion's share of the territory is controlled by The Duke of New York (Isaac Hayes) who fiercely and viciously protects his interests. These interests now include The President of The United States. It would seem that his plane was hijacked then crashed into a skyscraper while his escape pod lands in the heart of the city.
The warden (Lee Van Cleef) surmises that there is only one person who can save The President - Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell). Snake is a former special forces soldier who turned to crime and is spending the rest of his life in prison for breaking into a bank.
To ensure his cooperation, he is injected with a security measure - two tablets are placed inside of his neck and if he doesn't complete his task in 24 hours, the tablets will cause his head to explode.
With the help of Cabbie (Ernest Borgnine) who knows the city like the back of his hand, Snake sets out to overcome every conceivable obstacle to rescue The President and himself before time is up. He's got his job cut out for him and the real question ends up being - is The President even worth it?
Watching Escape made me sad. Sad because it made me once again face the brilliance of John Carpenter that has seemed to wane over the years. Escape is one of his best and the beginning of a fairly successful teaming with Kurt Russell. It is also a perfect illustration of why those of us who love Carpenter, love him.
Chock full of zinging and crafty one-liners. You spend more time giggling than being riveted by the story - a story which was ingenious.
And let us not forget to give a little dap to Isaac Hayes who starts Carpenter's trend of a casting a black man in a strong supporting role and this is one trend that I really appreciate.
Kurt Russell is great as almost an anti-hero. He's moody, brooding, rude and prickly, but you love him and cheer for him anyway.
This DVD is worth every penny. The film is clean and appears to be restored. Carpenter even gives us a little goody in the form of a Snake Plissken comic book - how cool is that? The commentary is very informative and worth listening too. But the real gem is the deleted scenes section in which we are given important background on Snake. That alone is enough to make me go out and buy a copy for my library.
Do yourself a favor and at least rent it. Remember that it is John Carpenter and expect a little camp. If you keep in mind that it was made for 6 million dollars -chump change even in 1981 dollars - you'll be even more impressed.
Escape to New York and enjoy the ride.
back to top
Copyright Kamal "The Diva" Larsuel-Ulbricht, 2003
Use the feedback form below to send your comments to The