A Movie A Day #202: Broken Bars (1995, directed by Tom Neuwirth)

The streets are being flooded with lousy, synthetic heroin.  Could the source be somewhere inside of Trabuco Federal Prison?  That is what Nick Slater (Ben Maccabee) has been assigned to find out.  Nick is a tough cop but now he is going undercover, pretending to be a tough but incarcerated bank robber.  Nick  discovers that Trabuco is like no other prison out there.  For one thing, Wings Hauser is the warden.  Warden Pitt is a smirking Aryan who forces his prisoners to box for his amusement and who enforces discipline with a CIA-style torture chamber.  (Because the Warden is a boxing fanatic who likes to reward his best fighters, he also regularly brings prostitutes into the prison, which allows the film to reach its quota of B-movie nudity.)  Even worse, Warden Pitt and the head of the Aryan Brotherhood, Jigsaw (Paulo Tocha) are working together.  Only Nick can end Warden Pitt’s reign of terror but he will have to survive prison first.  Fortunately, Ben knows how to throw a punch and deliver kick and he is going to have to do a lot of both if he is going to make it out alive.

Broken Bars is a dumb but entertaining movie, with plenty of action and Wings Hauser villainy.  Ben Maccabee’s a credible 90s style action hero.  He may not be as good an actor as Dolph Lundgren or as fast as Jean-Claude Van Damme but, by the end of Broken Bars, there is no doubt that he could easily knock out Steven Seagal.  It’s no surprise that the best thing about the movie is Wings Hauser.  As anyone who ever watched late night Cinemax in the 90s knows, Wings Hauser was usually the best thing about any movie that he appeared in.  As a character, Warden Pitt is demented even by the standards of Wings Hauser and Hauser obviously had a ball screaming his lines.  B-movie stalwart Joe Estevez also shows up, playing a good guy for once.

Joe Estevez and Wings Hauser in the same movie?  Who cares if it’s any good?  Hauser and Estevez together is just another way of saying, “Must see.”

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