80's Action Attack!: Getting Even

Directed by: Dwight H. Little

A few years ago I randomly happened upon this film while browsing eBay. The cover grabbed me enough that I got onto IMDB to learn all I could about this film, which was this: It's from 1986, stars television soap actor Edward Albert, costars 80's babe Audrey Landers (of the Landers sisters) and Joe Don Baker. But most importantly for me, it was an early action film from Dwight H. Little, who would go onto classics like Steven Seagal's Marked for Death and the Brandon Lee film Rapid Fire, as well as dipping his toes into the horror genre with films like Halloween 4 and Robert Englund's Phantom of the Opera, before fading into television work. But seeing it wasn't going to be so easy. It's never been released on DVD, only VHS as far as I can tell, and that VHS never comes cheap either. I've never come across it for under $10-$15, and for a film that I've never seen, that's awfully steep, especially when you take into account every copy I've ever found was pretty beat up to begin with. Luckily, I happened upon a fellow collector and acquired it in a trade. So let's dig in......finally.

Getting Even was badass. Plain and simple. There was so much that surprised me about this, things I was not expecting to find. Like, for example, it's ridiculously high on Texas pride. I know a lot of films just happen to take place in Texas, but I'd never seen one where it was so in your face. I mean, just because you live in Texas does not mean you have a Southern accent, or randomly spout out "Don't mess with Texas!" in the middle of a gunfight in Afghanistan, but they sure as hell do in this film and it's hilarious. I should know, I live in Texas and I do not have a southern accent nor do we say things like "Don't mess with Texas". But most everyone in the film does, including lead Edward Albert, who tries so hard but only comes off as a caricature because it's so forced and utterly ridiculous, yet highly amusing at the same time. And of course, Joe Don Baker, the villain, doesn't need to try at all. That's just him and he gives it 100% in here and it's awesome.

What threw me off quite frequently with Getting Even is the fact that it constantly shifts from looking and feeling like a Made-for-TV movie, albeit violent, with a lot of action, some nudity and a whole lot of swearing, to looking and feeling like a solid action film, one that could rival any big budget film from that time. But even in the Made-for-TV moments, it's still a satisfying action film, delivering all the things you want and more. And that always throws you off, because it has such a Dallas/Falcon Crest TV Show aura about it, but it's violent, and there's random unnecessary nudity.

The story involves a poison gas that kills on impact, and a Bruce Wayne-type billionaire industrialist who also freelances as a spy/soldier. When he steals the gas from the Russians and brings it to the U.S., it's quickly stolen and brings on a series of events involving double-crosses, ransoms, revenge and world dominance. As far as story and structure goes, it's pretty straight-forward, but what sells it is the hammy delivery by all involved, and it's hilariously cheesy dialogue that will constantly make you ask "Did I really just hear that?". It's fantastic.

I have to say though that one of the films biggest draws is not Audrey Landers, but rather Edward Albert as "Tag" Taggar. The guy really gives one helluva bravado performance, even if it is just way too hammy to be taken seriously, with his ridiculous mustache being a character all it's own. I would have loved to see Albert make more of these, like if it had become a series of films. His character alone warrants more, but it's Albert's portrayal of a Southern Bruce Wayne-like mysterious figure who can be both a hard badass and a suave ladies man that seals the deal. Too bad, Getting More Even and Getting Evener would have been fun.

Getting Even is absolutely worth your time if you love low-budget action films. Or hell, even if you just enjoy them in general, there's plenty to like here. It would also be a welcome addition to Bad Movie Night, because the ridiculousness of it all just constantly elicits a laugh or an audible "WTF?". It's pure cheesy entertainment at it's best and trust me when I say that you will not be disappointed with this film.

How to see it:
As mentioned before, it's never gotten an official DVD or Blu Ray release, and I've never seen a Laserdisc, so as far as I can tell, it's only on VHS. Of course you can find some bootleg's online I'm sure. Rent to stream isn't available anywhere either, so this really seems to be one of the harder films to get your hands on.

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