Class of 1984 (1982)

Genres - Action  |   Sub-Genres - Juvenile Delinquency Film, Action Thriller  |   Release Date - Aug 20, 1982 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 100 min.  |   Countries - Canada   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Class of 1984 is a classic example of exploitation film: In other words, it compensates for its lack of star power and a high budget by exploiting a sensitive topic (violence in schools) and wallowing in all the racy and violent content it can muster in the space of an hour and a half. Whether this is offensive or intriguing depends on a viewer's taste but it is worth noting that Class of 1984 is both skillfully made and pretty compelling for an exploitation film. The script works in some surprisingly effective dramatic moments to balance out its high action quotient as well as the occasional moment of black humor -- the best example of the latter category is a scene where Corrigan, pushed to the brink by a vicious prank, pulls a pistol on his class and quizzes them at gunpoint. Class of 1984 further benefits from inspired performances by a well-chosen cast of familiar faces: Perry King invests Norris with a likability and warmth that makes him easy to root for, Vincent Van Patten throws out all the method actor fireworks needed to make his villainous role memorable, and Roddy McDowall steals every scene he is in as Norris' sarcastic, burnt-out colleague. However, the best element of Class of 1984 is Mark Lester's energetic direction, which brings a gritty, comic-book style to the film and adds a visceral punch to the action (especially during the bravura revenge finale, which must be seen to be believed). All in all, Class of 1984 manages to rise above the exploitation film tag thanks to its high levels of style and craftsmanship and is well worth a look to the adventurous cult movie fan.