Movie Review – VFW (2019)

I had asked for this movie on DVD last year for my birthday and I finally got around to watching it last weekend.

Stephen Lang stars as Fred, the operator of a local VFW, who celebrates his birthday with some of his old Army buddies – Lou, Walter, and Abe at the local watering hole. Their revelry is cut short with the arrival of a young girl named Lizard. Lizard’s sister was killed thanks to the machinations of a local drug dealer named Boz. In her grief, Lizard steals a few bricks of a drug called Hype from Boz, who was going to use the narcotic to finalize a deal worth a half a million dollars. Boz sends his crew to retrieve the drugs. Fred and his pals must protect Lizard while fending off an army of mindless drug addicts that want the drugs for themselves.

Remember the good old days of walking the local VHS rental racks and perusing the cover art to decide if a movie was worthy of taking home with you? The DVD cover art was the reason why I asked for this movie for my birthday. It features Lang, Martin Kove, William Sadler, and Fred Williamson grouped together holding weapons. This minimalist cover was intriguing featuring these old action stars grouped together, standing ready for battle.

The movie reminded me a bit of Hobo with a Shotgun and Green Room. When researching the movie for this review, ImDB describes it as a “a thriller in the vein of 70s and 80s grindhouse flicks.” If you like these types of films, this one is right up your alley. Be warned that the blood and gore fly about 20 minutes into the film, thanks to some awesome and over-the-top practical effects. The film is brought to you by Fangoria and if you have read the magazine at one time or another, you’ll know what to expect.

This might be the first time I have ever seen Stephen Lang in a heroic role. He is well known for his turn as villains in Avatar and Don’t Breathe. It’s nice to see him in the role of a white hat for a change. There is a scene between Fred and Lizard about what the VFW means to him and his buddies. I enjoyed it because it really shows how far Fred is willing to go to defend the building from outsiders trying to destroy it.

After watching the movie, I logged it onto my Letterboxd account, and I gave it four out of five stars. Joe Begos presents a cautionary tale of how drugs can affect a small town and how it encroaches on the lives of innocent bystanders and what people will do to protect their own little slice of life at all costs. This hidden gem is worth watching, but be warned, in addition to bloody and intense images, there is a lot of coarse language and a few moments of vulgarity, especially when the men start talking about what they have planned once the VFW closes for the night. Keep your eyes peeled for cameos by David Patrick Kelly and George Wendt. I laughed when I first saw Mr. Wendt because he looks so natural sitting at the end of a bar thanks to his part as Norm on Cheers.