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Film / Wild Thing

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Wild Thing is a 1987 action film directed by Max Reid, starring Robert Knepper, Kathleen Quinlan, Robert Davi, Maury Chaykin, and Betty Buckley. John Sayles wrote the screenplay.

In 1969, a young boy watches drug dealers murder his parents. He runs away into the city and grows up near-feral on the streets. As an adult he becomes a modern-day Tarzan, defending the inhabitants of his neighborhood from Dirty Cops and drug dealers with the help of his cat sidekick and some improvised weapons. He falls in love with a social worker named Jane and sets out to take down the drug dealer who murdered his parents, who is now a powerful crime lord.

Wild Thing contains examples of:

  • Attempted Rape: Jane first meets Wild Thing when he rescues her from two men who try to rape her in a car.
  • Bound and Gagged: The villains tie Jane to a chair and tape her mouth shut.
  • Building Swing: Wild Thing does this a few times with a grappling hook made out of an umbrella.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Wild Thing sits bolt upright after dreaming about his parents' murder.
  • Ceiling Cling: Wild Thing does this after he's captured and locked up in the police station. When a photographer comes in to take his picture, Wild Thing drops down and knocks him out.
  • Childhood Home Rediscovery: As an adult, Wild Thing stumbles across his parents' old van, now dilapidated and overgrown.
  • The City Narrows: Wild Thing lives in the Zone, a neighborhood ruled by organized criminals and Dirty Cops and inhabited mostly by gang members, prostitutes, and homeless people.
  • Death by Origin Story: Wild Thing's parents.
  • Dirty Cop: Seemingly the entire police force is in the pocket of organized crime. A cop even witnessed Wild Thing's parents' murder, and tried to kill him as he ran away.
  • Finger Gun: Three-year-old Wild Thing fires one at his head when Leah asks him what happened to his parents.
  • Harmful to Minors: A three-year-old boy watching his parents get shot, then narrowly surviving a murder attempt.
  • Heroic Fire Rescue: When Safe House, where Jane works, is burned down, Wild Thing climbs in through one of the windows to rescue a teenage prostitute trapped inside. He lowers her down on a rope and escapes through another window.
  • Hippie Parents: As a young child, Wild Thing lived with his parents, a man dressed like Jesus and a woman with long, braided hair, in a painted van decorated with peace symbols.
  • Let the Past Burn: Wild Thing's Parental Substitute, Leah, tells him to burn her body and the home they live in after she dies so there will be nothing left for "the Company," as she calls the establishment.
  • Loyal Animal Companion: Wild Thing's cat follows him everywhere.
  • Man on Fire: Wild Thing is on fire when he escapes from Safe House.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: We never learn Wild Thing's real name.
  • Parental Substitute: Wild Thing is raised between the ages of three and ten by a homeless woman named Leah who gives him his nickname and teaches him how to survive on the streets.
  • Shrouded in Myth: The Wild Thing is a local legend. Most of the people who have seen him are winos, so some people think he doesn't exist, while others think he can magically turn into a cat.
  • Soft Water: Twice. At the beginning of the movie, three-year-old Wild Thing jumps from a bridge into a river to escape from the shooters, and at the end, he jumps from a tower into the same river to escape from dozens of cops.
  • The Straight and Arrow Path: Wild Thing fights crime with a bow and arrow.
  • Super Window Jump: Wild Thing escapes from Safe House by smashing out through a first-story window.
  • Titled After the Song: "Wild Thing" by The Troggs, which is played a few times during the movie.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Wild Thing wears an open vest with no shirt. During the second half of the movie, he wears nothing but cut-offs.
  • Wicked Cultured: At one point two villains are shown playing chess while listening to classical music.