VFW (Veterans of Foreign War) is an action-horror film that was directed by Joe Begos. It Stars Stephen Lang as well as a number of other notable actors. In fact, VFW is similar to the film The Expendables. It too brings together an ensemble of old-school actors and pits them against great adversity. Lang plays Fred Parras, a war veteran who runs the local VFW bar. A safe haven for his friends and those that have served in the military. Along with his brothers in arms, Fred must defend VFW against a horde of savage, drug addicted maniacs.
It’s a typical night for Fred and his buddies. All they want to do is shoot the shit, get drunk and possibly make their way to the local strip club. Is that so much to ask for? Unfortunately, it is. Before they know it, a young teenage girl runs into the bar with a bag of stolen drugs. She’s closely followed by a group of bloodthirsty drug addicts who storm VFW. Instincts take over for Fred, he and the boys defend what’s theirs.
The ringleader of the mutant like addicts gets wind of the location of the drugs. He sends out a message to attack VFW with everything they have.
VFW is a really fun movie. This is in part due to the cast who you can tell are having the time of their lives throughout. When they’re not smashing a skull, they’re throwing out some amusing one liners. I was surprised at the level of violence in the film. It just isn’t what I expected. Calling what is on display ultra-violent feels appropriate. It gets brutal and bloody which just feels right considering the overall vibe. The practical effects look awesome throughout. There’s dismemberments, impalements and plenty of blood.
Also, the whole concept in VFW is unique. The drug addicts are portrayed as zombie like creatures hell-bent on getting a fix. One character even refers to them as “things”. The whole idea reminded me of Robocop 2 which had the drug known as “Nuke”. In fact, VFW has a similar grimy feel which is cool. You can tell the creators were going for a 70s Grindhouse aesthetic and it works wonderfully well. VFW is often drenched with blood but it is gorgeously lit by neon lights throughout as well. If that wasn’t cool enough, it has an awesome synthwave soundtrack to boot.
In terms of negatives, there are a couple. Firstly, the main antagonist never feels like a legitimate threat. Not only that but his motivations are unclear and he makes a number of dumb decisions that lead to his demise. Secondly, the girl known as Lizard that the guys at VFW protect with their lives. She’s really unlikeable and doesn’t seem to be at all grateful for their help. Some of them literally die and she’s just unpleasant. If I were them I would have slung her out the door, would have saved a lot of trouble. Thirdly, too often scenes are shown in poorly lit scenarios. It makes it annoyingly difficult to follow what is going on.
Overall, VFW is certainly worth a watch. I can see it being one of those movies that is brought up on peoples “underappreciated” movies lists down the line. Not perfect by any means but far better than most mainstream horror releases.
The Final Score - 7/10
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