Future Cop III (1992)
By: Paul Ryan on May 18, 2010  | 
Big Sky Video | All Regions, PAL | 4:3 | English DD 2.0 | 74 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: C. Courtney Joyner
Starring: Tim Thomerson, Melanie Smith, Andrew Robinson, Helen Hunt, Megan Ward
Screenplay: C. Courtney Joyner
Country: USA
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Life's taken an unhappy turn for time-travelling lawman Jack Deth (Tim Thomerson). His private detective agency is struggling. He's estranged from his twentieth century wife, Lena (Helen Hunt) and right on the verge of a possible reconciliation, he's abducted by a hulking android called Shark (one-time Leatherface R.A. Mihailof) and dragged back to the far future of the mid-2300s. Jack's return home reveals a world in chaos, with the zombie-like Trancers waging war on the ruling council of Jack's era, and this time, they're winning. The remaining members of the council reveal to Jack the origins of the Trancers, created as a military experiment in 2005. Jack's mission is to destroy the Trancers at their source, and prevent the future war. Sent back down the line to 2005, Jack butts heads with sinister military scientist Colonel "Daddy" Muthuh (Andrew Robinson, of Dirty Harry fame), whilst his now-ex-wife Lena - now a reporter - and an errant Trancer named R.J. (Melanie Smith) hold his only keys to eliminating the Trancers once and for all…

With a new director (C. Courtney Joyner, writer of Prison and Class of 1999, who also scripted) comes a fresh shot of energy in this third entry in the Future Cop/Trancers series. The noir-ish look of the original Future Cop is reinstated, and gives the film added mood and atmosphere (not to mention also helping to obscure the cheap sets), and Joyner's handling of action is a big improvement on Charles Band's static work in Future Cop II. Thomerson is solid as usual, while it's nice to see Hunt (whose sitcom Mad About You had boosted her to stardom by this time) come back one last time to give Lena some closure. Best of all is Robinson, who provides delicious southern-fried villainy as Col. Muthuh. There are some noticeable lapses in continuity (Angel City is simply called Los Angeles here, and Jack's home time period has jumped a whole century), and the time-travel logic is even messier than usual (the final timeline changes make virtually no sense), but the fast pace and amusingly trashy b-movie touches (Muthuh's base is located under a strip club, natch) help to compensate.

Serving as something of a reboot of the series, Future Cop III ends with a refreshed setup for Jack's subsequent adventures, but much of this potential is immediately squandered in installments four and five. By the time Full Moon resurrected the series for a sixth outing in 2002, only one of the threads set up here was finally picked up (as Joyner wrote that one too), but the results weren't pretty. As such, it's all downhill from here…
Somewhat murky, this is an NTSC-to-PAL conversion, with a generally soft image throughout. It's been a long time since I last saw this film on VHS and cable, but I certainly recall it looking less dark and muddy than it does here. There's also some noticeable pixilation and print scratches in some shots.
The 2.0 track is generally modest, but there are a few good stereo effects to he heard.
Extra Features
Not much on offer, but the Behind the Scenes featurette gives a brief look at the making of the film, featuring soundbites from all of the main cast, and much enthusiasm from Joyner. It also shows off some gruesome KNB makeup effects that didn't make the final cut. Along with the original trailer ("Three times, and you're Deth!"), there are previews of Future Cop IV: Jack of Swords, Subspecies III and Puppet Master 4.
The Verdict
The best of the sequels, this third entry takes some surprising risks with the familiar characters, and has solid direction to boot. As usual, the time-travel logic is questionable, but the film is still good fun. Pity about the video though.
Movie Score
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Overall Score

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