Extreme Prejudice (film)

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Extreme Prejudice
Theatrical film poster
Directed by Walter Hill
Produced by Buzz Feitshans
Mario Kassar
Written by John Milius
Fred Rexer
Deric Washburn
Harry Kleiner
Starring Nick Nolte
Powers Boothe
María Conchita Alonso
Music by Jerry Goldsmith
Cinematography Matthew F. Leonetti
Edited by Freeman A. Davies
David Holden
Billy Weber
Distributed by TriStar Pictures
Release dates
  • April 24, 1987 (1987-04-24)
Running time
104 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $22 million[1]
Box office $11,307,844
90,307 admissions (France)[2]

Extreme Prejudice is a 1987 American action western film starring Nick Nolte and Powers Boothe.

The film was directed by Walter Hill; it was written by John Milius, Fred Rexer and Deric Washburn (the latter collaborated with Michael Cimino on Silent Running and The Deer Hunter).

Extreme Prejudice is an homage, of sorts, to The Wild Bunch, a western directed by Sam Peckinpah, with whom Hill worked on The Getaway. Both films end with a massive gunfight in a Mexican border town.

The title originates from "terminate with extreme prejudice," a phrase popularized by Apocalypse Now, also written by John Milius.

The character of Jack Benteen was loosely based on Joaquin Jackson, now a retired Texas Ranger. Nolte spent three weeks in Texas with Jackson learning the day-to-day activities of a Ranger. Nolte took what he learned and incorporated it into his character; the mannerisms and dress.


A teletype message flashes across the screen...

Master Sergeant Larry McRose, U.S. Army, Frankfurt, West Germany
Report to Zombie Unit, El Paso, Texas

At the El Paso airport, five U.S. Army sergeants meet up with Major Paul Hackett (Ironside), the leader of the Zombie Unit. The unit is composed of soldiers reported to be killed, and are on temporary assignment under Hackett for this mission.

Jack Benteen (Nolte) is a tough Texas Ranger. His best friend from high school is Cash Bailey (Boothe), an American and former police informer who has crossed into Mexico and become a major drug trafficker. Bailey tries to bribe Benteen to look the other way while sending major drug shipments to the U.S. Benteen refuses, and is left with a warning by Bailey: Look the other way, or die trying.

Later, Benteen and his friend, Sheriff Hank Pearson, end up getting in a shootout with Bailey's men at a gas station outside of town, resulting in Pearson's death. Benteen knows that Bailey set them up. Two of Bailey's men try to escape, but Hackett has them killed by not leaving any witnesses, and after they tried to steal his vehicle.

A D.E.A. agent and several soldiers from the clandestine U.S. Army unit show up in town, all tracking Bailey. When the soldiers rob a local bank to get Bailey's money and a cash deposit box that contains accounts on the drug money he's deposited there, one of the soldiers is killed and two others are captured by Benteen and placed in the town jail. At the station, they discover that the two men are soldiers who faked their deaths, and decided to take down Bailey to prevent any drug shipments from entering the United States.

Benteen is confronted by the D.E.A agent, who turns out to be their commanding officer and reveals their true mission to him to obtain his men's release. Now knowing the full story, Benteen joins with the soldiers and crosses the border into Mexico to track down Bailey and end his drug running. At Bailey's hacienda, Benteen's girlfriend Sarita (Alonso), who was once Bailey's woman, has crossed into Mexico to join him after arguing with Benteen.

At a huge Independence Day festival, Benteen confronts Bailey while the soldiers attack Bailey's private army. Hackett is witnessed shooting Bailey's accountant and, at the same time, revealing himself to be Bailey's partner, who tells one of his men there was no mission, and that they were assigned to die. The town erupts into a gunfight, which few but Benteen and Sarita survive. Hackett and his men get killed in the process. Benteen and Bailey end up in an old west-style showdown, which results in Bailey getting shot to death, rather than surrender. Bailey's right-hand man, Lupo, takes over the drug business and tells Benteen he'll do him a favor some day, while Benteen and Sarita walk away towards an uncertain future.



The film was first announced for production in 1976 with Milius to direct from his own script. "It's very complicated," said Milius. "I've never been able to put what the movie's about in a few words. All I can say is it's a modern-day story about subversion and espionage." It was to be made in October 1976 in Texas, but Milius instead decided to make Big Wednesday.[3]

The project was revived in the 1980s, when Walter Hill hired Harry Kleiner to rewrite it. Hill had known Kleiner from the film Bullitt, on which Hill was an assistant director and Kleiner the writer; Hill was impressed by Kleiner's talent for writing and rewriting on the set daily, which he needed for this film.[4]

Hill had worked with Sam Peckinpah in the early 1970s on The Getaway and said he "tipped my hat to Sam a couple of times" in the film.[5]


Tri Star announced the film as their Christmas release for the year which upset the filmmakers as they had planned to finish it by April.[1]


The movie received generally positive reviews. It currently holds a 71% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 7 reviews with an average rating of 6.4/10.[6][7][8]

Hill later said "I don't think it was understood how much genre parodying was involved in that picture. It rather mystified a lot of American critics but it has its defenders."[5]

Box office[edit]

Extreme Prejudice debuted with $3.5 million at 1,071 screens its first weekend.[9]


The film was released on videocassette in the United States in 1987 by International Video Entertainment and again in 1989 by the same company. In 1991, it was re-released on VHS by Avid Home Entertainment, but in the EP (low quality) Mode. In 2001, Artisan Entertainment finally released the DVD, but in pan-and-scan and without bonus features. A DVD in the United Kingdom shows the film in widescreen and also contains the theatrical trailer as well as the teaser trailer and a 1987 5 minute documentary .

The U.S. DVD has been criticized for its low quality transfer and lack of features. In Scandinavia a Blu-ray is available, but only in 1080i50 and a compressed English Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. In Japan a region free 1080p Blu-ray is available with English Dolby TrueHD 2.0 track.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b EXTREME CONFUSION Modderno, Craig Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File); Sep 14, 1986; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: Los Angeles Times (1881-1990) pg. T22
  2. ^ Box office figures for Walter Hill films in France at Box Office Story
  3. ^ FILM CLIPS: 'TELEFON' TO LINK BRONSON, SIEGEL Kilday, Gregg. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 30 Aug 1976: f7.
  4. ^ "Son Of 'Bullitt' " OUTTAKES May 10, 1987|Pat H. Broeske LA Times accessed 2 May 2013
  5. ^ a b Action man with an eye for character Dwyer, Michael. The Irish Times (1921-Current File) [Dublin, Ireland] 13 Jan 1989: 14.
  6. ^ "Movie Review : Stylish Exploitation In 'Extreme Prejudice'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-06-02. 
  7. ^ "FILM: 'EXTREME PREJUDICE'". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-06-02. 
  8. ^ "Extreme Prejudice". Chicago Sun Times. Retrieved 2012-06-02. 
  9. ^ "Weekend Box Office". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-06-02. 

External links[edit]