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Film / The Butcher

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The Butcher is a 2009 action film directed by Jesse V. Johnson, starring Eric Roberts as the titular character, a mob enforcer and hitman, and Robert Davi as the Butcher's superior in the mob.

Merle "The Butcher" Hench (Roberts) has been working under Murdoch (Davi) for twenty years until he's tricked into taking a fall for his boss. Betrayed and barely surviving an ambush meant to kill him, Merle decides to get even, John Woo style.


This film contains examples of:

  • Artistic License – Gun Safety: Merle’s rampage with the Gatling gun, cool as it looks, is absolutely ridiculous when you realize he’s holding the tip of the gun from its barrel. note 
  • Bling-Bling-BANG!: Merle’s weapon is a pair of Gold-plated Beretta pistols.
  • Cool Old Guy: Merle, being played by Eric Roberts in his fifties but still capable of kicking ass, certainly counts.
  • Falling-in-Love Montage: Between Merle and Jacky, culminating with the two of them making out in Merle’s suite, him undressing her before removing his shirt. To the tune of Keane Simmons’ Brilliant Blue.
  • Gatling Good: After killing Carmichael, Merle hears several of Carmichael’s mooks coming to investigate the gunshots. At which point he grabs a loaded Gatling gun randomly mounted on a wall (Why? Rule of Cool, that’s why.) and mows down half a dozen incoming mooks with it.
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  • Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: Merle and Murdoch smokes plenty of times throughout the movie, them respectively being The Hero and the Big Bad.
  • Gorn: Plenty throughout the movie, from Pink Mist in shootouts, to a man’s head exploding, to characters being graphically beaten to death with copious amount of red syrup everywhere…
  • Guns Akimbo: Merle in the final shootout, with the aforementioned awesome Golden Berettas.
  • Long-Lasting Last Words: Merle and Murdoch, at the end of the film, despite shooting each other simultaneously, somehow managed to have a five-minute long conversation with each other before they expire. Murdoch bleeds out first, while Merle somehow managed to stagger out to where Jacky is waiting for him outside, give a Dying Declaration of Love, and spend at least five more minutes with her with an Agonizing Stomach Wound that eventually kills him.
  • Match Cut: One scene had Merle chomping on a huge cigar, which he blows smoke towards the camera (and audience). As the smoke clears, the scene quickly cuts to Murdoch, smoking a similar cigar.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Subverted, the titular Butcher is actually a really friendly Hitman with a Heart and Cool Old Guy.
  • No Range Like Point-Blank Range: Merle’s first onscreen kill, of one of the masked thugs raiding the strip club, where he draws his pistol on the thug’s temple and pulls the trigger from point-blank range.
  • One-Man Army: Merle against Murdoch's goons in the final shootout.
  • Pistol-Whipping: Shotgun Whipping. One of Merle’s kills is an unfortunate mook which have his brains bludgeoned by the butt of a shotgun held by Merle.
  • Protagonist Title: Merle ‘The Butcher’ Hench.
  • Retired Badass: Merle, as the movie puts it:
    "Merle was a one-time gunman, one-time prize fighter. A man who now preferred a drink over a fight."
  • Retirony: Merle's vendetta on Murdoch for double-crossing him is supposed to be his last hit, before his permanent retirement from the mob. Take a guess whether Merle survives the movie.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better:
    • In the street shootout, when the hitmen after Merle tries taking for cover after Merle guns down most of their ranks, he then grabs his trusty shotgun and blasts away, hitting concealed mooks behind their cover as he does so.
    • Later in the finale, Merle finds a shotgun behind a bar, and uses it to take names with deadly accuracy.
  • Silver Fox: Merle Hench, played by the 53-year-old Eric Roberts, but still looking absolutely suave and completely badass.
  • Someone to Remember Him By: Some Place to Remember Him by. In the Epilogue depicting how Jacky eventually made it big and becomes a diner owner, she named her business "Merle’s Diner" – after the hitman and assassin she loves.
  • Tempting Fate: This line that comes late in the film:
    Merle: (to Jacky) "I think today is my luckiest day!" ( dies in a shootout less than 12 hours later)
  • Tomboyish Name: The film’s female lead is named Jacky. Could be short for Jacklyn, but nobody calls her that.
  • Two Shots from Behind the Bar: Invoked. In the final shootout, Merle dives for cover from Murdock’s goons shooting at him behind an empty bar, and finds a loaded shotgun conveniently behind the counter, which he then uses to take names.
  • Your Head Asplode: One of Murdoch’s henchman have his head blown up when Merle shoves his shotgun into said henchman’s face and pulls the trigger.