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  Streets of Fire Another Time, Another Place....
Year: 1984
Director: Walter Hill
Stars: Michael Paré, Diane Lane, Rick Moranis, Amy Madigan, Willem Dafoe, Deborah Van Valkenburgh, Richard Lawson, Rick Rossovich, Bill Paxton, Lee Ving, Mykelti Williamson, Robert Townsend, E.G. Daily, Lynne Thigpen, Ed Begley Jr
Genre: Musical, ActionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 3 votes)
Review: Streets Of Fire is a rare thing indeed. It has some of the best music ever to grace the big screen. It is full to the brim of guns, bikes, explosions, fast cars, tough women, and even tougher men. It has a hero that you'd love to hate, and a bad guy who you'd want to take home to Mom. And most surprisingly, it coaxes a good performance from Rick Moranis. Now don't get me wrong, I'm sure he's a lovely guy (and you can tell his libel lawyers that if you meet them) but 10 minutes of Honey I Shrank My Brain is about a quarter hour too much for me. But in this, he's not too bad.

Anyhoo, back to the movie.

Kids of all ages are streaming into the local Theater for the return performance of Ellen Aim, the local girl who hit the big time with her band, The Attackers. The place is stomping. and the first song in the set is huge. In the wings, Ellen's manager / boyfriend Billy Fish is cursing his decision to come back to this 'two-bit neighborhood'. And his fears are proved right. There's a surge from the rear of the hall, and The Bombers, a biker gang of immense numbers, storm the stage and carry off Ellen. It seems that Raven, the leader of the Bombers, has taken a shine to Ellen and this is the ideal opportunity, as he says, to 'have you love me for a week or two'. The Bombers trash the hall and beat up anyone who tries to resist them, before riding off into the night.

Reva, the owner of a local coffee shop, is the only one who seems to know what to do - call for Tom Cody. Her brother Tom and Ellen were an item for years, until her career took her away. Reva figures he's the only one who would get her back. And so he arrives back in town, and almost immediately gets into a fight with some young punks who turn up after the excitement has ended looking for some action of their own. Tom gives them a good kicking, and they run off, leaving their car behind. Tom 'appropriates' the car, and sets off for a drink. In the bar, he meets McCoy, an ex-soldier who ran out of wars. She's looking for a way to make some cash and a bed for the night. Tom provides both, when he agrees to go get Ellen back for Billy Fish, in return for $10,000.

But getting her back isn't that easy, as they need to break into the Bomber's clubhouse, deep in The Battery, a dark, industrial complex full of mad bikers with guns. Cue many more explosions, much more great music, and some of the best one-liners ever quoted in a movie. Just as they are about to leave, Tom and Raven eyeball each other, and they know that whilst it doesn't end here, it will end soon. Then Tom walks off, and their escape from The Battery is almost as eventful as their journey in, involving a meeting with the local police, a close-harmony group called The Sorels who were on route to a gig, and some kind of weird 1980's neon scene where everyone is dressed in garish parodies of fifties clothing. Bizarre.

But eventually they get back. And cue the only real poor bit of the movie, when Tom refuses to take Billy Fish's money, and prompts a reunion with Ellen. But this moment of predictable sloppiness is cut short when the Bombers reappear, and the showdown begins. As the police chief says when his small force is faced down by around two hundred Bombers with guns: "Well Tom Cody, my plan went to shit. Lets see how you do. Kick his ass!". The showdown involves a baying crowd, two real hard men, and ice-picks.

Nice.

The performances in the movie are superb, from Michael Paré (Tom Cody) and Willem Defoe (Raven) in particular, but also from Diane Lane and Amy Madigan as Ellen Aim and McCoy. There are some great minor roles for established stars such as Rick Rossovich, Bill Paxton and Ed Begley Jr., but it's Rick Moranis that's the revelation. Like I said, he's actually good in this. And I can't say that about many of his movies - Little Shop Of Horrors and My Blue Heaven are the only others I can stand to watch.

But this movie isn't about stars. It's about the music, the moment, the action, and the feel. Catch it whenever you can.

UPDATE SEPTEMBER 2004: This item whch has been deleted in the UK for many years, has just been released on R2 DVD, and should be available from all stockists, including sendit.com (use the link on the right of the screen)
Reviewer: Paul Shrimpton

 

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Walter Hill  (1942 - )

American director, writer and producer who specialises in action and Westerns. Entered the industry in 1967 as an assistant director on The Thomas Crown Affair, and in 1972 adapted Jim Thompson's novel The Getaway for Sam Peckinpah. Hill made his directing debut in 1975 with the Charles Bronson actioner Hard Times, but it was The Driver that introduced his hard, stylish approach to the genre. The Warriors has become a campy cult favourite, while The Long Riders was his first foray into Westerns, with Geronimo, Wild Bill and the recent TV show Deadwood following in later years.

During the eighties and nineties, Hill directed a number of mainstream hits, including 48 Hours and its sequel, comedy Brewsters Millions and Schwarzenegger vehicle Red Heat, as well as smaller, more interesting pictures like Southern Comfort, Streets of Fire and Trespass. Hill was also producer on Alien and its three sequels, contributing to the story of the middle two parts.

 
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