Thursday, September 25, 2008

Killing Streets

The Action Mutant…
says when the streets run red with blood, only then will the violence end.

Killing Streets

review by Joe Burrows

Here’s a new one for ya: The Action Mutant was censored on MySpace! During my recent inducting of photos on the TAM MySpace page, I put up a photo of Lisa Eichhorn (Opposing Force). It was from a play she did (entitled The Women of Lockerbie), in which her blouse was torn open and she was splattered with blood. It wasn't as nearly as bad as it sounds & I felt it conveyed the overall attitude that I try to convey in the writings. Of course, they stated that it was offensive and that “people as young as 13 visit MySpace pages”, which is funny because the age limit for an account there is supposed to be 14 & we all know how much luck the site has had in keeping track of real ages. Anyway, I put a tamer pic up but here is the original pic for all to see. You tell me if it’s a big deal to you. Now, on to bigger issues…like twin basketball players let loose in Lebanon! Is that Golan I smell burning on the stove?

The Plot, as it was:
Michael Paré (Streets of Fire, Eddie and the Cruisers) plays Chris Brandt, an Ohio high school basketball coach that’s told his twin brother Craig (also Paré) was killed during a covert operation in Beirut. Chris isn’t buying that load of goods so he decides to go to Lebanon himself & look for answers. Chris’ arrival is met with resistance from the U.S. Embassy, namely secretary Sandra Ross (Jennifer Runyon) and head man Charlie Wolff (Lorenzo Lamas). However, Chris finds out that his bro is being held captive with other hostages by Kasmullah militant Abdel (Alon Abutbul) & his regime. Aided by a legend spouting cabbie named Gilad (Gabi Amrani), Chris goes on the warpath & will not stop until his brother (and…oh yes, the hostages) is free.

Don’t shoot me…I’m only the reviewer!:
The one fatal flaw within the Menahem Golan produced Killing Streets is that it actually tries to be serious. And if other Actioners involving twin lead characters (Double Impact, Double Trouble and Twin Dragons) have taught us anything, it’s that you can’t take them seriously. Unlike the three I just mentioned, the twins in Killing Streets are put against the backdrop of 1984 Beirut (filmed in Israel, actually), which is akin to putting The Wiggles in a Rob Zombie film (Note to self: Put in idea folder. Double Note to self: get attorney to talk to Norm MacDonald). Writers Stephen Cornwell & Andrew Deutsch try to add some messages to the fray but they usually fall along the usual jingoism of “Militants; bad. America; good. Um…USA! USA! USA!” Even when things come close to resonating (as with the subplot involving a young militant named Yahzi, played with conviction by Ishai Wureit), they don’t fully come together because they collide with the elements that make this pure escapism. The sad part is even those elements don’t inject the right amount of life into the film. Since Paré gets to play twins, he also gets to give two overly wooden performances. Flickers of earnestness permeate his actions at times but he often comes off as just too bland for an Action lead. It’s Lamas that hits parody-like levels as the CIA agent, sporting a Texan drawl that is a dead ringer for pro wrestler John Bradshaw Layfield. Seriously, watch this video of JBL and just imagine Lorenzo Lamas talking EXACTLY like that! Shudder-inducing, no? At least that train wreck provides some interest, which cannot be said for the majority of the film. Despite some goodwill in the form of Amrani providing light comic relief as the cabbie & a pretty decent car chase in the middle, Killing Streets lumbers along from one sequence to the next in fairly drab fashion. The final twenty minutes take the film from slightly ridiculous to horrendously bad, as the main resolution & finale involving a Lebanese informant (Menahem Einy) provide some laughable, head scratching moments. By the time the final credits rolled, I couldn’t help but think how entertaining this would have been if Chuck Norris was thrown in as the lead & all notices of pretension had been thrown out.

Body Count/Violence: 42. Things are actually pretty slow on the dead body front until the final third, where mucho soldiers are blown away with equally mucho bloody gunfire. Along with the car chase, fighting, explosions & stabbing, there’s actually a pretty sweet skull bashing scene that would have worked even better had Uncle Menachem handed out 3-D glasses during it.

Sexuality/Nudity: Two very brief tit shots by Runyon & Rahely Chimeyan during two very brief sexual scenes. Nothing to froth up about.

Language/Dialogue: Occasionally strong but not often.

How bad was it?:
It was nearly impossible to dig up any critical response for the film but the feedback on IMDB was not very complimentary, to say the least. Some say it was just overlong & boring, while others stated it was just very bad.

Did it make the studio’s day?:
Golan’s 21st Century Picture Corporation released Killing Streets on video in the States on 10/23/91. No budget or box office records were ever made public.

Film: *1/2/*****
Entertainment value: ***/*****

Copyright 2008 The Action Mutant.

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