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A Shock to the System (1990)

Michael Caine , Elizabeth McGovern , Jan Egleson  |  R |  DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Michael Caine, Elizabeth McGovern, Peter Riegert, Swoosie Kurtz, Will Patton
  • Directors: Jan Egleson
  • Writers: Andrew Klavan, Simon Brett
  • Producers: Alice Arlen, Leslie Morgan, Patrick McCormick
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Widescreen, NTSC, THX
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Millennium
  • DVD Release Date: May 25, 2004
  • Run Time: 88 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0001US85S
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #47,032 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "A Shock to the System" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

This DVD feature film stars Michael Caine.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
55 of 57 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Play Naughty; Win Big June 16, 2003
Format:VHS Tape
Michael Caine is marvelous when playing a happy villain. He was impossibly beautiful as a young man, but middle aged Michael with serious bags under his eyes and a slight weight problem has an air of wounded vanity, as if he can't quite understand how things went wrong.
Caine, as Graham Marshall, is a fairly successful marketing director with an expensive home, an expensive and slightly boring wife, and is desperately anticipating a promotion for his many years of diligence. He is stunned when he is passed over for a young, brash associate. Graham has an epiphany when a particularly smarmy panhandler enrages him, and Graham impulsively shoves him off the subway platform in the path of an oncoming train. No one has seen him and Graham muses on his "magical" powers. He quickly and cleverly dispatches the wife and the business rival, gets rid of his white elephant of a house in the suburbs, boards the pets and gets a tasteful apartment in Manhattan. Though homicide Lt. Laker (Will Patton with a splendid Long Island accent) is suspicious, nothing can be proved. Graham not only gets the promotion, he has his eye on taking over the company, dispatching his rivals on his upward climb.
What keeps the tension intact is the victims are not cartoon-like villains. The wife is irritating, but not evil. The youngster who beat him out for the promotion is vulgar, but it is clear he is clever and competent. We just cannot help but cheer Graham on his nefarious way. Michael Caine's glee and satisfaction are catching.
There is more than a whiff of Alec Guinness's "Kind Hearts and Coronets" in Caine's performance, but Michael Caine has a knack for villainy all his own. "Shock to the System" may be a trifle of a movie, but it is a highly enjoyable trifle. ....
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Defines black humor August 28, 2000
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
This is a witty, morbidly funny movie. It's weak in spots, andthe occult "magician" comments in Michael Caine's voice-over narration is perhaps a little misplaced. But it is an original movie, and entertaining, and as Michael Caine said when making it, "The thing is, this guy is murdering people, BUT YOU ARE ON HIS SIDE." After seeing this movie, you might find yourself looking at conniving rats in your life and thinking back to this movie! Even though Michael Caine plays an Englishman, it takes place in New York, and is a VERY American piece, in that it shows the absolute subtext of all American life is that you MUST be a success. I've seen this movie a number of times. The humor is twisted. But good...
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Michael Caine is brilliant in this black comedy. June 12, 2002
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
You're here so you're probably a Michael Caine fan. So, the crux of the issue is; Is this a performance you need to see? The answer is yes. If you're a fan of Michael Caine's you HAVE to have this film. He is absolutely brilliant in it. No other actor could have pulled this off. The wicked, sly, dark humor, the subtlety, killing people and not only making you laugh about it, but actually root for him. Caine nails it. If you're a Caine fan, you're not looking for some big obvious slap-stick comedy, you're looking for something a little more off-beat and original. You found it. Enjoy.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Punchy stinging black comedy of the workplace May 23, 2004
Here's where Michael Caine shines, as a corporate exec who gets passed over for the promotion he's so feverishly expecting he'll get in favor of a young Turk--well played by Peter Reigert--who lords it over Caine's character in subtle (and not so subtle) ways. Caine's wife, also well played by Swoosie Kurtz, one of the great unknown American stage and film actresses, is a serious [problem] to him. So he has two people in his life who are supremely annoying.
What does he do? Well, let's just say that his solution to these two problems ends in the population of the world changing, shall we?
The dialogue in this very smart blackly comic thriller is sharp as a razor; it's a lot of fun to watch Mr. Caine give us his best as a put upon exec who's more than capable of flying into a rage at the drop of a hat and of executing his very sneaky and well thought out plans for revenge. Also on hand is Elizabeth Perkins, an equally intelligent office colleague who attracts Caine in more ways than one, but does not suspect him of any wrongdoing at all. That is, until...
One of the best office comedies around, A Shock to the System is a stinging portrait of greed and selfishness in America--for my money, far better than the somewhat overblown Wall Street. This is a movie that gives you a great evening's entertainment and part of the reason for that may be to secretly exact vengeance upon those corporate bigwigs who've prevented you from getting a job for so long, given this miserable economy.
Great job. Highly recommended.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Murder mayhem in corporate America. July 10, 1999
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
Michael Caine stars in this winsome black comedy about his stagnating career and marriage, and how he uses murder to make them both more interesting (and profitable). Caine plays the anti-hero in this movie with just the right mix of cynicism and mirth to curry the favor of the audience as he plots his final moves to get "the corner office."
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pure fiction, unless you work in a Company too! October 27, 1999
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
What a great piece of film. Superb performance, as always, from Caine and we have all been in the same situation to some extent. Climbing the corporate ladder only to find it was against the wrong wall. No more Mr Nice Guy, he decides to take the law into his own hands and kill anyone who gets in his way and anyone hanging on to his shirtails. Unusual for a film to end with the 'hero' getting away with the crime (he gets caught in the book)but would we want it any other way? Buy it, rent it but enjoy it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars low-key performance as an intelligent executive who has been treated...
Ironic, Amusing and Well Done!
For all of us who have been laid off, fired, or missed a promotion, this movie will be a dark pleasure. Read more
Published 25 days ago by MountainTwilightBooks
1.0 out of 5 stars love michael caine hated this movie
aah, love michael caine hated this movie.. watched it and pitched afterwards
Published 2 months ago by William Golston
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Happy with this DVD, prompt service.
Published 2 months ago by David Alan Moody
5.0 out of 5 stars Very dark humor.... not for anyone ...
Very dark humor ....not for anyone looking for light comedy. Michael Caine is superb.
Published 2 months ago by Pearl's Mom
5.0 out of 5 stars very good
this is an off beat movie that i liked, it is not on TV any time recently but is one i wanted it came when expected and was in good shape
Published 5 months ago by GLENDA DROLLSBAUGH
5.0 out of 5 stars Bought for mom.
My mother loves this movie and it was in great shape when it arrived! It works well and mom was very happy! :)
Published 7 months ago by Leann
5.0 out of 5 stars A personal fqavorite
I love this film and watch it every few years. it's a great black comedy with Michael Caine brilliant in it.
Published 11 months ago by Bill Zolan
5.0 out of 5 stars very funny movie
this movie is very funny if you like someone getting even for being passed over at work for promotions etc.....but you have enjoyed dark humor
Published 11 months ago by nels hansen
3.0 out of 5 stars Man Goes Mad
'Shock To The System' is a film that might make many people's wishes come true. Wishes that they could never in their right minds fulfill. Read more
Published 15 months ago by prisrob
5.0 out of 5 stars Michael Caine is at his best and shows how to get to the top with a...
The fine actor Michael Caine is at his best and shows how to get to the top of the heap by using a little "magic." GREAT MOVIE!
Published 16 months ago by Samuel H.
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