On the surface this film looks like a fairly typical TV exploitation movie, with low production values and a predictable story line (man loses loved one, becomes vigilante for revenge reasons, feels conflicted over his role as vigilante due to morally minded girlfriend ... I won't spoil the ending), but Ferrara makes it so much more. The scenes which set up the relationship between the main character and his brother are touching where you'd expect them to be saccharine; the girlfriend (the excellent Nancy Allen) actually has a brain and a point to make, rather than just needlessly objecting to the hero's blatant need to do what he's gotta do (which seems to be the girlfriend's main job in American films), and the hero himself has a genuine presence on screen that makes you believe in him and care about him in a way that you would never expect from a film with this kind of plot. I'm not entirely sure what it is that lifts this movie up, but I suspect that Ferrara's deeply serious approach to the material is chiefly responsible. Most directors would have seen this as a hack-job, something to be got out of the way, and as a result it would have been utterly forgettable. But Ferrara's deep moral sense and ability to create an atmosphere imbue the film with a spirit and character that make it worthy of repeated viewings. Credit must also go to the actors, particularly Ken Wahl and Nancy Allen, for creating believable and engaging performances that convince you you're watching real human beings for once, and not just a puppet show for over-grown children.