Avenging Angelo (2002) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Tuna

Warning: mega-spoilers

Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger, the three great action heroes of the past two decades, have all arrived at a career crossroad. The action path is coming to an end, and the shirtless days are all but over. Which path should they follow now?

  • Schwarzenegger hasn't had a solid box office smash since 1994 (True Lies), but he can postpone the decision for a while because he is busy making sequels to his old hits.
  • Willis has had no problem at all. He has a certain look and intelligence that allows him to play military types or ex-astronauts, and he can also range from tough to compassionate to funny when he needs to. While Shakespeare isn't in the cards, and he can't do accents, he's nonetheless an underrated actor who can speak English articulately within his mainstream mid-American accent, so he can be plugged into almost any kind of role, and he continues to headline hit movies of various types.
  • Stallone, on the other hand, seems lost at the moment. His latest movie, Avenging Angelo, is a straight-to-vid, and he hasn't had a theatrical success in a long time. His most recent theatrical film, D-Tox, was made for $55 million, and was almost a complete write-off. I can't even remember the last time Stallone was in a movie I liked, but it's been a long time since Rocky II and The Lords of Flatbush and First Blood. A sad indication of his current status is that I can name an Eric Roberts movie I liked in the last decade, but I can't seem to come up with one for Stallone. The chart below says it all:

Eric Roberts - films of the decade 1994-2003 rated 5.5 or higher at IMDb:

  1. (6.58) - It's My Party (1996)
  2. (6.32) - La Cucaracha (1998) (This was the one I liked)
  3. (6.30) - Spawn 3: Ultimate Battle (1999) (V)
  4. (5.98) - Cecil B. DeMented (2000)
  5. (5.93) - Spun (2002)
  6. (5.78) - Immortals, The (1995)
  7. (5.77) - Wildflowers (1999)
  8. (5.60) - Grave, The (1996)
  9. (5.50) - Cable Guy, The (1996)

Sylvester Stallone - films of the decade 1994-2003 rated 5.5 or higher at IMDb:

  1. (6.69) - Cop Land (1997)
  2. (6.29) - CyberWorld (2000)
  3. (5.70) - Assassins (1995)


The Avenging Angelo role wasn't bad for Sly. He's on the right track when it comes to finding a correct fit for his abilities. He plays the dedicated bodyguard of a kindly old mob boss (Zorba the Godfather, in his last movie). Zorba is assassinated on Rocky Balboa's watch, so the Rock knows that he now has to protect Zorba's daughter (Madeleine Stowe). Unfortunately, Zorba's daughter is a bored suburban trophy wife, doesn't know that she is the daughter of a mob boss, and doesn't take Rock's protection offer very seriously until she is the victim of an attempted assassination while shopping in a ritzy mall.

Did I mention that it's a romantic comedy? Well, a dramedy would be more accurate, I guess.

Yeah, I know. It sounds like it sucks as a comedy premise, and if the movie doesn't actually suck, it does at least inhale very deeply, but not really because of the premise. I think that the premise was actually reasonable as a Stallone vehicle, and Stallone himself did OK in the role, but the script is just a weak and inappropriate mixture of menace and comedy.


  • Carin Moffat showed her breasts, and there was also a distant look at her lower body.
  • Madeleine Stowe appeared in sexy underwear.

Stowe looks absolutely magnificent. I have never seen a 45 year old woman look so good (right).

Unfortunately she has no chemistry with any of her male co-stars, and the comedy falls flat.

The drama falls even flatter. The plot requires the audience to accept one of the most ludicrous coincidences in screen history. An author whose work Stowe loves, a sexy Italian man whose books she has virtually memorized, is actually the hit man of the rival mob family which is trying to kill her. Being the world's most beloved author is just his cover!

Well, it is an effective cover. Stowe feels completely comfortable being alone with him since she's been reading his books and listening to his lectures for a decade.

Would you expect J.D. Salinger to be a mafia hit man?

It's an effective cover, but kind of unlikely, to say the least. If you tell me that some obscure writer like Howard Hunt is really a spy or a mob boss, OK, that could be. But if you tell me that Thomas Pynchon or Umberto Eco or Tom Clancy is really a hit man, I'd have to think you were only talking to me temporarily, until the white coat guys get you in their butterfly nets. Hello, Chuck Barris! The best part of it is that the author-slash-hitman didn't make any attempt to contact Stowe. It was she that initiated their relationship by inviting him to speak at her Ladies' Club. 

Assume you are a hit man assigned to kill Woman X. Here is your plan. You find out what kind of books she likes. You spend two or three decades writing that kind of book, then you wait for her to contact you! When you get alone with her, you strike! Now THAT'S deep cover.  And after all that planning, it didn't even work. Rocky Balboa figured it out, and was there to save her.

DVD info from Amazon

  • Widescreen anamorphic 1.85

  • "making of" featurette

  • full-length director's commentary

The writer's explanation at the end of the film? He became a writer and just wrote some shit books to maintain his cover. He got them published through his mob connections.

Their success was a complete surprise to him.


Avenging Angelo (2002) is supposed to be a light hearted crime/comedy featuring Rambo as a laid back mob body guard. His Don has had him protect his daughter, Madeleine Stowe, for years, even though he had a couple adopt her to protect her life. When the Don (Anthony Quin in his final role) is whacked, Stallone now has to tell Stowe about her real father, and protect her. She dumps her cheater husband early in the film, when she finds him screwing her friend (Carin Moffat) in her own swimming pool. It is obvious from the beginning that Rambo has the hots for Stowe, and why not? She does look great in this film.

Stallone either does a great job of portraying a low key hit man, or they had him on valium the entire shoot. The humor fell flat, the action was not exciting, and there was no chemistry between Stowe and any of the men she played opposite in this film.

The Critics Vote

  • no major reviews on line

The People Vote ...

  • Since parts of it were filmed in Sicily, the movie had a theatrical release in Italy. Straight-to-vid in the USA.
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. 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 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 film is a C-. It is OK for what it is, a premise-laden comedy-drama which went straight to video. Stallone did fine, Stowe looks gorgeous, and it is Anthony Quinn's last film. Tuna says, "I did enjoy the lighthearted score, and nothing was especially wrong with this film, but neither was anything especially good about it. C-."

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