Saturday, 21 February 2009

The Cheap-Arse Film Review #21- "FEAR CITY." (RIP WOOLWORTHS PT.1)


NAME: FEAR CITY

RELEASED: 1984

WRITTEN BY: NICHOLAS ST. JOHN

DIRECTED BY: ABEL FERRARA

STARRING: TOM BERENGER, JACK SCALIA, MELENIE GRIFFITH, BILLY DEE (BILLY DEE! BILLY DEE!) WILLIAMS

GENRE: URBAN THRILLER

BOUGHT FROM: WOOLWORTHS

PRICE: £1.00

(WRITER'S NOTE- AS YOU'VE PROBABLY NOTICED, THIS REVIEW IS GOING UP LATE. THREE DAYS LATE, TO BE EXACT. AS EVER, I HAVE AN EXCUSE FOR THIS. I HAVE TWO ACTUALLY, ONE GOOD, ONE... NOT SO GOOD. THE GOOD ONE FIRST- I WAS ALMOST DONE WRITING ON THE WEDNESDAY WHEN BLOGGER DECIDED TO HAVE A MASSIVE FREAK-OUT AND START SCREAMING "ERROR!" AT ME, CAUSEING ME TO HAVE TO SHUT IT DOWN, ONLY FOR ME TO DISCOVER TO MY HORROR WHEN I REOPENED IT THAT I'D LOST HALF OF WHAT I'D WRITTEN. I THINK I MAY ACTUALLY HAVE SCREAMED.

"AHA!" I HEAR YOU SAY. "AHA-AHA-AHA! WHY WERE YOU STILL WRITING ON THE WEDNESDAY, THOUGH? SHOULDN'T YOU BE DONE BY THEN?" WHICH BRINGS ME TO THE SECOND, NOT SO GOOD EXCUSE... UP UNTIL ABOUT 4:30 THAT DAY, I THOUGHT IT WAS ACTUALLY TUESDAY, AND THAT I HAD A WHOLE DAY TO FINISH OFF AND EDIT THIS THING. DON'T LOOK AT ME LIKE THAT. I AM NOT YOUR ROLE MODEL. THE REALITY IS, BECAUSE OF THAT, THIS WAS PROBABLY ALWAYS GOING TO BE LATE, JUST NOT AS LATE AS IT ENDED UP BEING, SO I SUPPOSE YOU COULD SAY THAT, WHILE I PUT MYSELF ON THE ROPES, IT WAS BLOGGER THAT DEALT THE KNOCK-OUT BLOW.

ANYWAY, IT'S UP NOW, AND THE NEXT REVIEW WILL BE UP ON WEDNESDAY, ALONG WITH POSSIBLY A BIT OF AN ANNOUNCEMENT.WE'LL HAVE TO WAIT AND SEE ON THAT ONE. UNTIL THEN, ENJOY.)

I never stole any of the penny sweets from Woolworths. I was afraid I'd get caught, even though my friends walked out of there with pocketfuls of fizzy cola bottles and sherbert bubbles without anyone noticing. There was even a theory that they let you steal up to a certain amount so that it encouraged you to go inside and make the place look busy, although I don't buy that, because they eventually did away with the Pick N'Mix, and I think even sited one of the reasons for doing so as it wasn't profitable anymore because of all the thieving bastards nicking everything. I hope you're all proud of yourselves for spoiling a good thing we could all probably still enjoy today.

After that, I never really had much of a reason to set foot in Woolworths again. I'd walk around it sometimes just to get myself out of the cold whilst waiting for a bus, and I'd go in there for a drink from time-to-time as they were forever doing two-for-one offers on bottles (not even cans, bottles) of Coke and Oasis (well, I suppose you couldn't do offers on cans there...). On the lead-up to Christmas I'd venture in to see if there was anything decent to buy, toys for my little cousins and the like, but I'd often leave empty-handed as the selection was woefully anemic, or I knew for a fact that I could pick something up cheaper than they were offering. But it was, in a strange way, comforting to know it was there if you needed it. It'd gone through dozens of makeovers throughout the years, but it was still the same place I'd stood outside trading WWF stickers with my friends. I know it's silly to have affection for a faceless corporate entity, but I had affection for Woolworths.

And then I heard all the branches across the country were closing down.

I won't say I was heartbroken, because that would be over-egging the pudding, but I was taken by surprise, and at first dismissed it as rubbish, little more than a pre-Christmas publicity stunt to pull in punters. But as the days went on and my local created a crude sign displaying how long they had left, I knew I was wrong. And I suddenly became determained to buy something there, specifically a movie to review here. I thought it'd be no problem, as they were absolutely determained to get rid of their remaining stock and were moving things on at prices that can only be described as unhinged (I have friends, not even one friend, but friends, who bought multiple complete "Rock Band" sets with the intention of selling them on and making a massive profit). I already had it planned out in my head, that I'd make a big deal of whatever movie I found and make it part of a "Goodbye Woolworths" event.

So, could I find anything?

Could I buggery.

It was amazing. People were running around with armfuls of stuff, and I couldn't find so much as one movie for a quid or less. It was like this was the one place they were trying desperately to still make something approaching a decent profit. Over two days I went to four different Woolworths, and both times came out with diddly-squat. I was disppointed, but what else could I do but shrug my shoulders and say that it obviously wasn't meant to be? So I moved on, reluctantly.

Then a couple of weeks ago something interesting happened. Over the time I've been doing this, I've picked up quite alot of movies, and since I can only do one a week most of the time, this has led to an impressive backlogue that I have stored in a box on my wardrobe. I bought them with the intention of reviewing them in the order they were picked up, but as time went on I abandoned that and now just review whatever I feel like that particular week. It's good to have in emergencies, incase I don't find anything that's really excited me whilst out on the prowl, which is exactly what brought me to look through it in the first place. That's when I found them. Two movies marked with the distinctive price sticker of Woolworths. Then it all came flooding back. I had bought DVDs there, when a friend of mine was in the bookies and I was standing around bored. I went to the Woolworths across the road from where we were to kill time, not expecting to find anything, and bought the first two I stumbled across. Then I put them in the box and forgot about them.

So this is it. The two films I'm going to be covering over the next two weeks are the last two things I bought from Woolworths. And even though I'm not going to let this fact colour or influence this review in any way, I hope I keep them. I really do.

To be honest though, things aren't looking good for this one, as it's directed by Abel Ferrara (confession time- I'd been a bit lax in my research, to the point that I hadn't even read the plot description on the back of the box until I went to watch it, and only found out he directed this when "Directed by Abel Ferrara" came up on the screen). I'm not the biggest fan of his work. I've not seen everything he's done, but I think I've seen enough to know we're not meant for each other, to me most of it either being over-the-top to the point that there should be a Loony Tunes logo shown at the beginning, or ludicrously pretentious. I've felt this way ever since I watched "Driller Killer" back in my teens, when me and my mate were briefly obsessed with Video Nasties and made it our mission to watch them all. If I'm honest, I don't remember much of this movie off the top of my head. I can only remember one kill, that being of a homeless guy with (duh) a drill. There must have been more than that. There must have been. But the two strongest memories I have are of some angry hippy ranting about somethng that seemed to go on for the entire movie, and two naked women making out, which is... great, I suppose, but it's not why I wanted to watch a movie called "Driller Killer." I was hoping to see lots of people get killed with a drill. The only film of his that I've enjoyed up to this point is "Bad Lieutenant," but even there, like with "There Will Be Blood" to a lesser degree, I'm not sure I'd even like that one were in not for Harvey Keitel giving the performance of several careers in the central role.

The opening credits role over a montage of urban city life and stippers doing their thing. I'm not going to go into too much detail about the strippers or their routines, because to be honest I've seen so much naked female flesh over the last few films that I'm sort or brested out and was hoping not to see any in this. The font used in the credit is weird, as it's made to look like red slash marks, which I would associate more with a horror flick (another confession- until I read the back of the box, for some reason I assumed this was a low-budget Sci-Fi movie. I have no decent explaination as to why). It makes more sense when you get into the meat of the plot though. The song playing over the top, "New York Doll," by Joe Delia and David Johansen, is also pretty good in a trashy eighties way, even if I think it sounds alot like a slowed down version of "Rebel Yell," by Billy Idol.

Following this, we meet Matt Rossi (Tom Berenger) and Nicky Parzeno (Jack Scalia), as they enter a strip club, not before they stop to say hello to one of the girls on the way out. We quickly find out alot about these two during their conversation with the club's owner inside- that they run an agency that provides the local nudey bars of New York City with girls, that Jack used to date Loretta (Melenie Griffith), the girl that's performing there tonight, and judging by the forlorn look on his face as he watches her dance, isn't what you call happy about it being over. The owner of this club is awesome, a small, bald man with a mustache who steals almost every scene he's in through a combination of cracking lines (here for example, he tells the guys he'd "give my only nut," to be able to pay them the money he owes them, before offering them a drink when they agree to extend his loan time, describing what they're about to partake in as, "milk from your mother-in-law's tit")and a voice so gravelly it may be made of pure Cancer.

On the stage, Loretta continues her routine in front of an enthusiastic audience. I've never been to a strip club, and I don't really have any interest in going to one, either. I mean, think about it- you're in a room full of beautiful, virtually naked women, all of whom are giving you the eye and making you feel like you might actually be the irresistable stud you pretend to be when you're down the pub with your mates lying about how great your lovelife is... and you can't touch any of them, not even so much as brush elbows with them, without being beaten to a bloody pulp. If you asked me to guess what the level of Hell I'm sure to be cast down into would be like, that would be pretty close. Melenie Griffith the way she is in this movie might be enough to tempt me through the doors though (to a club or to Hell). I'd forgot just how beautiful a woman she was. And no, I'm not going to be cruel and say something like, "what happened?" Because we all know what happened- she got old. And you can blame people for alot of things, but you can't blame them for getting old. Time does indeed make fools of us all. Sadly though, it was her looks that people were hiring her for, and when they went away, so did the offers. I'm trying to think who could be the Melenie Griffith of my generation. For some reason I keep coming back to Orlando Bloom.

Following her perfomance, she goes to her dressing room, where she's met by a pretty Hispanic lady who is very obviously presented to us as her girlfriend, and the person she left Rossi to be with, and I've got to say, for an Abel Ferrara movie, this is handled in a very subtle and non-sensationalistic manner. Infact, I'm tempted to say it actually swings the other way (or should that be... both ways?)(I'm so sorry...), by being needlessly coy. We never see them in bed together, nor do we see them kiss. Infact, the only instance of physical contact between them in the whole movie happens in this scene, when the woman puts her hands on Loretta's shoulders. This of course happens at the exact moment that Rossi decides to go to her dressing room to give her a Birthday present, which he decides isn't a good idea after a little spying. He then professes his desire to beat up his exes new girlfriend in the car with Nicky. Actually, the dirct quote is, "I'd like to kick her ass all the way down to (audio incomprehensible due to Berenger being so mumbly)," and as he doesn't really specify who he's talking about, he could easily be talking about Loretta. Either way, it's a classy statement to make (sarcasm, Internet). Nicky cheers him up with a few well-placed Italian jokes, and this is the first time I noticed that Tom Berenger looks angry even when he's laughing.

In between the scenes described above, we cut away briefly to see the woman Nicky said hello to outside the club being wrestled into an alley by a guy and attacked with a pair of scissors, although we don't really know what he did to her until Rossi and Nicky come to visit her the next morning, when she tearfully recalls the attack and reveals the guy had cut off two of her fingers. Again, we don't see the event itself, we see the guy go to do it, and then cut back to the hospital where she throws her arms around Nicky, revealing her heavily bandaged hands. This is, again, remarkably restrained for an Abel Ferrara movie, and you know what? It works. This scene is actually rather disturbing and affecting. I found myself feeling for this woman, because the focus is more on the effect the attack had on her more than graphic violence. I have, however, been told that I shouldn't be too quick to praise Ferrara for this, as like almost all of his movies, this one was apparently edited heavily following its showing to various ratings boards, so for all I know there's a director's cut out there where the killer picks up her fingers and sticks them up his nose.

After this, the movie tries to add a little depth to Rossi's character by showing us through flashback the defining moment of his life, that being when he accidently killed a man in the ring during his time as a boxer. Over the course of three flashbacks we find out more and more about what happened- in the first we just see Rossi pound this poor kid into so much meat, in the second we see him telling his corner that it's obvious the other guy's done and that the ref should stop the fight, only for his corner man to tell him to shut up and not expect the referee to do his job for him, and finally in the third, after the kid hits the ground, Rossi goes after the ref, screaming, "WHY DIDN'T YOU STOP THE FIGHT?!" It's a legitimate question, because the other guy was getting totally destroyed, but it's no worse than anything you'd see in a "Rocky" movie, and the ref never stopped anything in those, either. Plus, here's an idea, if he knew he was that out of it, why didn't Rossi just stop hitting him violently in the head? Work the fucking body! You'll still win, and your chances of killing a man go down substancially. So yeah, these scenes are alright, but they're not exactly "Raging Bull," and later they're used as an excuse for Rossi (and the filmmakers) to do some truy dumb things.

Rossi then visits a club he and Nicky provide with girls to pick up that week's pay, only to be questioned, in a very harsh and confrontational manner, by Detective Al Wheeler, played by Billy Dee (BILLY DEE! BILLY DEE!) Williams, who suspects he knows more about the attack than he's letting on. Now, I don't want to risk bringing down the wrath of the "Star Wars" fanboys upon me by saying this, and God bless Billy Dee (BILLY DEE! BILLY DEE!) Williams, but... he's not very good in this movie. At all. And he's at his absolute worst in this scene, all stilted delivery and shouting for the sake of it. It could easily be the fault of the director he's working with, since I doubt Ferrara has ever told an actor to turn it down a notch in his life. I'll also give him a little credit and say that he's never as bad again as he is here, but he's still not great, and it doesn't help that, as the movie goes on, you realise the character he's playing is completely ineffective and pointless. You seriously could edit out all his scenes and the movie would still make sense. I'm noticing this as a pattern with alot of the films I'm covering lately. It's also never really explained why he hates Rossi so much. He mentions something about the kind of people he associates with, which we later finds out hints to his mob ties, but Rossi himself doesn't seem to have his fingers in any illegal pies. The closest we get is a brief scene outside where Wheeler tells his partner that the main thing he hates about Rossi is that he's arrogant, which I think is supposed to be a joke, as his character is easily the most up-himself in the whole movie. Oh, and he also has a habit of throwing around Italian racial slurs, which is as obvious and transparant an attempt at being subversive and shocking as you're ever going to see. "OH MY GOD! THE BLACK MAN IS RACIST!"

Following another performance from Loretta, she returns to her dressing room to find Rossi, who had been in the crowd just a second ago, picking stuff up off her dresser and just... looking at them. Yes, that's not at all creepy and obsessive behaviour. He offers her a ride home, which she turns down as she's supposed to be picking up her girlfriend from the club she's working at that night, only to have Rossi tell her to let her find her own way home. So, your obviously-obsessed ex-boyfriend wants you to get in his car with him, and also clearly doesn't give care about any plans you've made with the person you're dating. Ladies reading this, put yourself in this situation. What would you do? Well, if you're Loretta, you'd get in his car. They make a little small-talk, Rossi asking her if she's still off "The Junk," her saying she is, that sort of thing, before they get down to it and start talking about what went wrong in their relationship. "Don't you understand," she says, "I'm afraid of going to bed wih you again. I loved you too much. You should have talked to me more." Not an unreasonable thing to say (well, other than saying you're afraid of sleeping with someone again, which just leaves the door open for all kinds of jokes), but when Rossi says he had trouble finding the words, she says, "Sometimes there aren't any." Okay, WAT? Didn't she just say she wanted him to talk more? And now she's saying she sometimes there are no words? I'm not going mad here am I, that's a totally mixed signal, isn't it? Christ, no wonder they're not together anymore, it must have been like dating The Riddler. And then she starts to cry! You brought it up!

Once Loretta is dropped of, we cut to her girlfriend doing her routine at a club. Se had previously stated that this place caters totally to Hispanic guys, and that's a perfect description of the crowd watching her... except for one lone, blonde white guy, watching her with what can only be described as a murderous smirk on his face. You don't stick out at all, do you sunshine? He's the killer, obviously, and the girl finds herself attacked whilst waiting for a train in a scene that's the polar opposite of the first one. There's blood everywhere, and the camera lingers on it in all it's detail. There's also the first hint of what is later told to us, that the killer knows martial arts. Sadly this hint comes in the form of him waving his arms around slowly like I used to when I'd play "Karate Kid," with my friends growing up. He leaves her to die on the platform, and then we cut back to his apartment/training facility, to see him writing in a book (which is later revealed to have the words "Fear City" professionally stenciled on the front in a font similar to that of the opening credits. I would have loved to have seen a scene of him going into a stationers and askng for that), and hearing what he's writing in voiceover. His motives are never completely revealed, which I don't have too big a problem with. However, what I do have a problem with is that the ones that are hinted at are just so stock and cliche- generic indignant religious rage and a desire to purify the world through violence. This has just been so run into the ground by now that it's what wriers come up with when they don't really feel like trying, and I'd imagine it was at least getting that way by 1984.

After being harassed (and there's really no other word for it) by Wheeler and his partner again, Nicky and Rossi return to the club from the beginning of the movie, where Loretta, obviously cut up (no pun intended) by what happened to her girlfriend, can't bring herself to perform. And, if I'm honest, I think she should feel at least a little bit guilty, because what happened is at least partially her fault. And thinking about it... why would she need a lift from Rossi if she was going to pick up her girlfriend? This isn't me making a mistake, she didn't say she'd "meet" her or anything like that, she said she'd "pick her up," which implies to me that she has her own car. So what happened to that? Did she just leave it at the club? This is literally just this second dawning on me. Anyway, Rossi goes to see her and says they'll get another girl there and give her the night off, which she initially says isn't nesessary, only to break down again when she goes to get changed. The whole time this was happening, I couldn't get that Bloodhound Gang song out of my head. You know the one, "A Lapdance is Always Better when the Stripper is Crying." I'm a terrible, terrible person. Nicky writes off the debt the club's owner owes them (what happened to the other girl?), and once back at their office, he pulls out a gun and says they should find the guy and deal with him themselves. Rossi makes no bones about the fact that he doesn't think that's a good idea, which causes Nicky to question whether or not he has it in him anymore and Rossi to have a spasm. Nicky apologises, Rossi accepts, saying they've been friends too long, and that seems to be the end of that. A little more backstory is given to Rossi when we later see Nicky lying on the floor of his bathroom looking through a scrapbook of Rossi's old fight clippings, revealing that the kid he killed fell into a coma first, which doesn't make much sense to me, because in one of the flashbacks it looks like the doctor proclaims the kid dead on the spot. This movie has real trouble keeping it's stories straight.

Rossi meets up with one of his mob contacts (who looks alot like Robert Duvall's slightly pudgier brother), and is told that they suspect the attacks are being carried out at the request of Goldstein, Rossi and Nicky's competition when it comes to providing clubs with dancing girls. Rossi outright asks if his people are looking to put out a hit on Goldstein, to which the guy replies, "You're not afraid of the sight of blod are you?" Jesus Christ, this poor guy, having his masculinity questioned twice in what I can only assume is a matter of hours because he'd rather not kill anybody ever again. Obviously thinking, "Fuck this," Rossi goes back to the office, finds Nicky's gun, and confronts Goldstein, who protests his innocence in a convincing enough way for Rossi to let him go, even though he backs away with his hand in his pocket as though holding a gun before doing so. I love stuff like this, it's movie logic that makes people act in ways that no real person ever would. "Eh, I think he's telling the truth, but I'm gonna make him think I'm gonna shoot him for a little bit longer." He then throws the gun into the river. Congratulations, you've just left yourself defenseless in the face of a madman who's killing your friends and is very likely to have you on his agenda at some point. I also don't think it was his to throw away.

Following a brief scene of the killer training with Nunchucks (which is fairly impressive and at least shows they're not totally chancing it by claiming this guy has some kind of training), Nicky is shown asking his girlfriend, who I presume is also a dancer, not to go to work anymore out of fear for what's happening. She knocks that talk on the head, saying it wouldn't look good if the bosses girlfriends suddenly had the right to pick and choose when she worked. "You know how much I love you, Rube?" he asks her, before kissing her. At first I thought this meant she was a total goner, but unless I wasn't paying attention, I think she makes it through to the other end of this. She does arm herself with mace though, and I suppose the main reason for this scene existing is to show how on-edge everybody has become.

Rossi and Loretta come out of the hospital from visiting Loretta's girlfriend and both spark up cigarettes (ah, the eighties...). Loretta says it looks like she's gettng better, to which Rossi says, "Sure," in a manner that sounds like he really doesn't give a fuck if she lives or dies. He then asks her if she wants to do something, and she says okay. Well, glad to see her being so distraught over the condition of her girlfriend hasn't stopped her being willing to accept the offer of a date from an ex. They walk along the river, where he finally gives her her Birthday present, a spinning necklace that says, "I love you." At least he's not being coy about his intentions. They kiss, end up back at her place (where Griffith somehow makes a Wifebeater vest one of the sexiest things I have seen any woman wear ever), and they have sex. I feel so sorry for Loretta's girlfriend, I really do.

There's another attack, and this time the killer actually manages to kill someone, which is good because I was starting to feel weird calling him "the killer," when a more accurate description of him would have been "the maimer" up until this point. He's seen watching a girl going to work in a cab, and when she returns, she hears someone behind her in her apartment block. This spooks her, and she runs to her apartment, looking through her door's peephole to see that it was, infact, an old man. She breathes a sigh of relief, and... OH SHIT HE'S IN HER APARTMENT! And Ferrara can't resist bathing this scene in red light. Yes Abel, we get it, he's about to kill her. The local press are now interested, the mob is spooked, offering Rossi two guys to help him look after his girls (which he at first turns down, because he's clearly doing such a good job on his own), Rossi has a strangely unrelated flashbach to when he was a shoeshine boy and saw two mobsters get killed (the casting of the kid in this scene is amazing, I have to point out, because he looks so much like Berenger I'm tempted to just assume it's his son or something), and Loretta shows up to visit her girlfriend just as she dies, after the doctors take all of five seconds to give up trying to revive her. And then she starts crying again! Sweetheart, you left her to walk home whilst you got a ride with Rossi (even though its been established that you must have a car), leaving her to be attacked, then you spent last night getting it on with someone whilst she lay in hospital slowly dying! You are officially the worst girlfriend ever. At least she has the decency to feel so guilty about it all that she gets straight back on "The Junk," (and I mean straight back on, the next scene is of her walking down an alley and picking some unspecified drug up off a sleazy dealer), and pretty much now disappears from the film until about the last ten minutes.

And now onto... a scene I'm not going to dignify with a recap. It involves a booing crowd, an annoyed club owner making an angry phone call, a wooden horse, and a woman being crucified for daring not to look like Melenie Griffith. It took me a while to figure out why this bothered me so much, because I'm far from a politically-correct guy and usually find humour in the cruelest things, plus I'm sure the actress knew what she was getting herself into and was just happy to have a paying gig, but I think I've figured it out. I think it's because this scene doesn't really have any baring on the plot whatsoever. It exists only for the reasons of making fun of this woman. And that's bullshit. Moving on. The killer strikes again (this time using NUNCHUCKS!), and for once the police seem to be doing something useful, like I don't know, doing proper investigating. The cops in the movie really are morons. In a previous scene, Wheeler finally realises (after two women have already been attacked), that not only do these incidents not fit the profile of anything the mob is likely to do, but the fact that Rossi and Nicky are still alive would suggest that they're not the main targets. Well done you. And their suspicions are confirmed when the girl found dead turns out to be one of Goldstein's, and as such now they decide they've got to work quickly before the mob decides to take business into its own hands.

OH GOD HE'S DOING KUNG-FU IN THE NUDE! MUMMY MAKE IT STOP!

...

...

... Ahem... Goldstein and the guys work out a deal to make sure their people are looked after, and then set about trying to find the killer. They think they've hit paydirt when Nicky sees a knife in the inside jacket pocket of a huge guy, and has one of his girls coax him into the kitchen, where he's set upon by three men including Rossi, who goes all Incredible Hulk on him and keeps smashing the shit out of him until they discover plane tickets in his pocket the say he's only flown in that morning, and also that he's an arcitect. An arcitect? This guy has be be the largest arcitect I've ever seen. What is he on the weekends, a wrestler? Anyway, during this, another girl is killed, this time with a samurai sword. I know I've gone on about how I find Ferrara's cartoonish violence to be tedious, but in this case I would've liked to have seen more for no other reason than I suspect there would have been a beheading. And beheadings are always awesome.

So one man would appear to have brought New York's topless scene to its knees (in a manner it's not used to, at least)- clubs are empty, girls are refusing to work, the agency is on the verge of going out of business. On top of all that, wheeler decides that now would be the perfect time to keep his little vendetta against Rossi alive by arresting him for assaulting the arcitect. Okay, so assault is a terrible crime, especially when one of the men involved usd to be a boxer and is destroying a man with his bare hands, but with the city gripped by a serial killer, you really would think this wouldn't be as big of a concern. But nope, Wheeler hates Rossi, so he arrests him and beats the shit out of him whilst he's tied to a chair. Who's the bad guy in this film again?

Hilariously, whilst this is going on, the killer strikes again, this time going after Ruby, who fights back and manages to get away just as Nicky shows up to pick her up, and take a pounding and be put in the hospital. There two things here I'm going to mention- 1) has anybody else noticed that the killer really isn't very good at hiding what he's about to do? I mean, yes, the first time he attacked someone, he took them to an alley, and another killing took place in someone's apartment, but other than that all the killing have taken place completely out in the open, and he's not tried to blend into the scenery. I mean, didn't somebody notice a guy walking around hlding a fucking sword in one of the previous scenes. And 2) after he's fought off Nicky, he runs away, and the way he runs is... words can't do it justice. I rewound the DVD three times, and each time I watched it, I laughed harder. It's the funniest thing in the film, and it's made all the funnier by the fact that the actor playing this role is taking the part deathly seriously, so I suspect it was a concious decision on his part to run like that. God I wish I could find pictures or footage of this to show to you. You'll just have to take my word for it.

So now, Rossi has finally had enough. After a brief pep-talk from a gangster, and visiting a church, he makes the decision that he's going to find this guy and deal with him once and for all. He goes back to his place and... starts boxing in front of a mirror? And then we cut back to the killer doing his Martial Arts training? Oh my God, this is a sports training montage. They're playing this up like it's boxing vs. martial arts, east vs. west (with two white guys, obviously). This is either going to rule, or it's going to totally suck. One thing I do quite like about this is that they make it obvious that Rossi doesn't find him that night, but rather it takes several weeks, asshots of him walking the streets dring both the day and night are intercut with shots of Nicky recovering in hospital and Loretta becoming more and more baked. After the motage, Rossi calls Loretta to tell her he loves her, which leads to her wanting more Junk. She gets beaten up by her dealer for not having any money, then manages to talk one of her stripper friends into lending her the money as long as she'll use it to go straight home, which she says she will. Because you can always trust an addict with your money, can't you folks? Griffith, it's worth mentioning, comes across as far too bright-eyes and clear-headed to be believable as a strung-out junkie. She goes back to her dealer, only to find him hanging from a noose, then is attacked by the killer herself. She gets away for a second using Mace (HIS ONE WEAKNESS!), but quickly finds herself in trouble again and it looks brief, until... HERE COMES ROSSI! Siloetted by the light behind him as though he were some kind of superhero, I should add. And now, here comes what the entire film has been building towards, the titanic tussle between good and evil, and... it totally sucks. It's so slow and unexciting. Rossi eventually wins the day, killing another man with his bare hands (um... yay?), then the police show up, including Wheeler. He looks at Rossi all stern and asks him if he's some kind of hero, Rossi says no, which causes Wheeler to smile and say, "You just might be." OH FUCKING COME ON! You dragged him across the coals for beating up a guy not too long ago, and now there's an actual corpse lying on the ground, suddenly you're his friend? Fuck off. Thank God this is over. At least we get to hear that cool song from the beginning again.

There were some things that I liked about this. The acting, while not awad winning, mostly isn't bad, with the obvious exceptions of Griffith and Billy Dee (BILLY DEE! BILLY DEE!)(SOMEBODY HELP ME! I CAN'T STOP!) Williams. I also managed to watch it almost totally in one sitting, which may not sound like that big a compliment, but the fact is, some of the films I watch are so bad, I have to pause them and go do something else just so I can mentally prepare myself for watching any more. I've had 90 minute films it's taken me over four hours to watch in the past. So the fact that I watched this pretty much from beginning to end must mean I found it at the very least watchable. But in the end, this movie is just too silly. And I don't have a problem with silly, but this is the bad kind of silly, the kind of silly that thinks it's being really serious. I get the feeling Ferrara thought this movie was a gritty expose of the seedy underbelly of New York, when the reality is, it's a film about a kung-fu serial killer knocking off a bunch of strippers. It's at best generic and at worst completely unoriginal and uninspiring. It's the kind of film you'd find on at five in the moring whilst drunk, and decide to keep flicking on the off chance of finding something better on.

FINAL VERDICT

BINNED!
Well, there's one of the two remaining remnants of my childhood cast aside. Lets hope the film next week fairs better. Maybe it will. Maybe.

Until next week, I'm The Cheap-Arse Film Critic, and I don't need no stripper telling me how to live!

4 comments:

jeffrey said...

I didn't know you smoked cigars? Btw, Cohibas and Cognac... delicious combo.

Also, I've never been caught stealing at Woolworth's either (when it existed). My Mom actually caught me, after the fact, when I was four years old. In the car, on the way home from Woolworth's, I brought out, from my pocket, one of those small packs (I think they were a nickel each, $0.05 USD) of Danish Butter Cookies and was about to open it when my Mom's spidey senses kicked in. "Where'd you get that?" She asked me. The rest was a blur. She drove me back to the store, made me admit what I had done to a store clerk, apologize, then return it. The ride home was moistened by tears of shame. And when my Mom told my Dad what happened... tears of pain... When Woolworth's closed its doors... I must admit... I felt a little bit vindicated.

I faintly remember this movie. Probably saw it on cable (it sounds vaguely familiar). Probably because of Lando. Mr. Williams is a smooth mother. Even when he yells... I somehow always expect him to break out in a lounge version of a Lou Rawls or Barry White song...

The Cheap-Arse Film Critic said...

I indulge in cigar from time-to-time, though not that regularly, partly due to cash constraints, and partly because alot of my friends would just rather I didn't smoke them.

I think that might be Williams' big problem in this movie- he's TOO smoothe. He doesn't have the rough edges to play a tough guy, and when he tries to, it comes ascross as silly and, well... camp.

jeffrey said...

Is Woolworths still around in the UK? I wrote "when it existed" in my first post of this review because Woolworths in Hawai'i and most of the US (if not all) has closed...

The Cheap-Arse Film Critic said...

Woolworthd died in the UK as of January 2009.