The Specialist (1994) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Tuna

Sly Rocky Rambo Stallone plays The Specialist, a demolitions expert who works outside the law to punish bad guys the law can't touch. Sharon Stone plays a woman whose parents were killed by some criminal thugs who have the law in their pocket. She wants Sly to kill the thugs for her.

The film has a very large structural flaw. Here is the way it is supposed to work: Stone hires Sly, we see him working for her for a while, then we are surprised to find that Stone is actually setting Sly up. She went to Sly's slimy former colleague (James Woods), who is now part of the criminal empire, and they worked a deal. Woods shows Stone how to get in touch with The Specialist, but in return for that, Stone must bring ol' Rock out in the open and turn him over to Woods so that the two guys can settle an old grudge.

Here's the problem:

  • The first scene is a flashback to Stallone and Woods working together in the military, betraying one another, swearing revenge.
  • The next important scene shows Sly asking Stone on the phone, "how did you find me?" (He's cautious and will not work for anyone who can't produce a satisfactory answer.) She cannot produce a satisfactory answer, yet he eventually takes the job anyway.
  • The third meaningful scene shows James Woods now working for the same criminals that killed Stone's parents.

Obvious, much? Get out the telegraph, lads, and warn the audience of the plot surprises ahead! From the first five minutes of the film, it is obvious that Stallone is being set up.

The structure is not only obvious, which I could forgive, but is also inconsistent. The Specialist is cautious about every detail. Nobody knows where he lives or who he is. He doesn't meet anyone face to face, and you can't call him. He uses pay phones to communicate. He lives like a homeless man, and he will only travel by city bus or on foot, never taking a direct route. So if he's so friggin' cautious, why is he going to work for a woman who won't answer a simple direct question - "how did you find me, a man who can't be found?"


  • Stallone: butt
  • Stone: just breasts in the widescreen version, but the full monty in the full screen version. Both versions are on the DVD

DVD info from Amazon

  • widescreen anamorphic 1.85:1 and also a full screen version.

  • there are some features about the special effects and explosions, but those explanations consist entirely of text.

  • you can buy it used from Amazon shops for less than seven bucks

Why? I'll tell you why. Because if he got that answer, there would be no movie. Yet in order for him to remain consistent with his character, he has to get that answer. The screenwriter pulled a Wily Coyote, and painted himself into a corner. In order to make the script reasonable, two things have to happen:

1. The flashback scene has to be inserted somewhere else in the film, perhaps when Stallone first spots Woods with the crime family, perhaps when Stone and Woods are first revealed as cohorts. If it is done that way, the audience is not aware that Woods knows Stallone from before, and it is therefore not immediately obvious that Stone is settin' up ol' Rambo, and we in the audience can get sucked into her seduction of him, just as he seems to be.

2. Sharon Stone has to be able to come up with some credible explanation when Stallone asks her how she found him.

Tuna's comments in yellow:

The Specialist (1994) is listed at IMDb as a Peruvian film! It is distributed by Warner Brothers, but evidently much of the funding was Peruvian.

It won numerous Razzies and Razzie nominations, including worst screen couple, worst actor, worst actress, worst supporting actor and worst picture. Sylvester Stallone is an ex CIA explosive specialist, who turned his boss James Woods in for questionable conduct, and both left the agency. Woods went to work for a Miami Mafia head, and Stallone started work as a mercenary. Sharon Stone contacts Stallone to take out the people responsible for murdering her parents years before. He eventually takes the job, which brings him into direct conflict with Woods.

There are a few twists ad double crosses before the happy ending, a few fist fights, and some great explosions.

I hate to admit that I was entertained by this mindless bit of fluff and excitement. Then again, I didn't have high expectations, so the rather weak acting didn't really bother me, and the pace was good enough to hold my interest.

The Critics Vote ...

  • General panel consensus: a bit less than two stars. Ebert 2/4, Berardinelli 1.5/4.

The People Vote ...

  • This movie, with the star power of Stone and Stallone, was a fairly big hit, despite the critics. It did $57 million in the USA, and an outstanding $113 million overseas. The budget was $45 million, all of it spent on salaries and explosions.
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, Scoop says, "This is a C-. Despite the poor reviews, I found it watchable, albeit as an over-the-top piece of the usual Hollywood crapola, with some unintentionally funny writing and performances (Eric Roberts as a South American drug lord, and Rod Steiger as his father - with an outrageous accent). But of course, I find bad stuff entertaining, and that's no value to you if you think that bad stuff is just plain bad. The RT rating of 5% shows you how most people felt. James Berardinelli pointed out, quite accurately, that there are only about four reasons to see this movie - Stallone's biceps and Stone's breasts. Both sets are very impressive. Stallone was ripped. Sharon looked great. Maybe you can throw in one more reason: James Woods at his slimy, arrogant, condescending best as Stallone's colleague-turned-enemy. Tuna says, "This is a C-. If you are in the right mood, you might not find it an unpleasant way to spend a couple of hours."

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