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  Shakedown Law And Disorder
Year: 1988
Director: James Glickenhaus
Stars: Peter Weller, Sam Elliott, Patricia Charbonneau, Antonio Fargas, Richard Brooks, Blanche Baker, Jude Ciccolella, Larry Joshua, Thomas G. Waites, Daryl Edwards, John C. McGinley, Walter Bobbie, David Proval, Harold Perrineau, Shirley Stoler, Paul Bartel
Genre: Action, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: One night in New York City a drug dealer was standing around in the park waiting for customers and listening to a rap cassette on his ghetto blaster when a man approached him and asked for something, but what happened after that only the dealer, Michael Jones (Richard Brooks), knows for soon they are both lying on the ground, with the would-be customer now dead of a gunshot wound. Jones claims the man was an undercover cop and he was about to murder him before he managed to pull his gun first, but seeing as how the victim really was a cop, it's not looking good for the accused...

Shakedown was also known as Blue Jean Cop and the titles are interchangeable depending on what territory you were in, but the film remained much the same, a tough police thriller on the surface which grew increasingly bizarre as director James Glickenhaus, himself no stranger to heading straight over the top when it came to his action sequences, grabbed his plot by the scruff of the neck and gave it an almighty shake so that by the finale you were wondering if they were really trying to get away with what they seemed to be attempting. One thing was for sure, there weren't many action movies that ridiculous.

Well, there were, but few which appeared to be more like one of those nineteen-seventies police dramas until it all went crazy. There were two main characters presented in a manner that suggested Glickenhaus would have preferred to create one supercop-lawyer rather than a separate couple, but as it was we had Peter Weller as Roland Dalton, hotshot attorney living with rich girlfriend Gail (Blanche Baker) who takes on Jones's case, and Sam Elliott as undercover man Richie Marks, a world-weary detective who is more able than he first appears. The sound of his sob story about accidentally killing his ideal woman's dog (stolen for a British lager advert the next year) is another hint this is not a sensible movie.

Glickenhaus obviously loved New York City, with particular preference for Times Square and its grindhouses as he even has one of the theatres playing his movies, which Marks is sleeping through when we meet him (perhaps not a great endorsement). Not only that, but there was a big setpiece staged there; as with the other such scenes, the stuntwork was exemplary, but the believability angle is neglected as you can't imagine the cop getting away with this never mind the lawyer he takes along with him. With courtroom battles between Dalton and Patricia Charbonneau as D.A. Susan Cantrell, who he happens to be sleeping with behind Gail's back, Shakedown was all over the place.

Yet it didn't come across that way for much of the time, not up until the stage where, say, Elliott pursues a suspect to the top of a rollercoaster which proceeds to malfunction and the carriages fly off the rails with the bad guy inside: you didn't get business like that when Paul Newman was tackling his case in The Verdict or when Charles Laughton was trying to concentrate on Witness for the Prosecution, did you? More's the pity, some might say, but this was very silly stuff which entertained up to a point, and that point was when you started to laugh. For the grand finale, which was nothing if not memorable, Elliott found himself trying to shoot down a plane in flight while hanging onto the wheel, a situation which only grew more preposterous as it developed. Oh well, the cast was a good one even if they were playing cartoon characters, with Antonio Fargas and Larry Joshua making for an excellent pair of villains, though Weller's endorsement of Jimi Hendrix could have been more convincing. Music by Jonathan Elias.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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