A little 80s action/adventure for this week’s double feature with these two fun 80s thrillers. We’ve already covered Shakedown, but it does make a fun pairing with the John Carpenter penned Black Moon Rising for a nostalgic good time and we haven’t taken a look at Black Moon till now. Both films have two leads who work really well together, a fair share of thrills, action, humor and are very representative of their era. Enjoy!…
Shakedown is an 80s action guilty pleasure from Exterminator director James Glickenhaus that is not only his best film, but a darn entertaining cop thriller that is one of the last to take place in NYC before the 42nd street clean up and thus presents New York in all it’s sleazy pre-90s glory. Shakedown is the story of public defender Roland Dalton (Peter Weller) who is moving on to a Wall Street law firm, run by his future father in-law, and as his last case, defends a drug dealer (Richard Brooks) accused of killing a cop. But the dealer says it was self-defense as he was defending himself in a robbery and the officer never identified himself. Dalton investigates along with lone wolf cop Richie Marks (Sam Elliot) and they discover a conspiracy of criminals and dirty cops who now want them both dead.
Aside from it’s dirty backstreet depiction of New York and some over the top action scenes, what really makes Shakedown work is that Elliot and Weller makes such a great team. They work very well together and it’s a shame the film never caught on enough to further the adventures of Marks and Dalton. The characters and the actors who portray them, really click and begged for a series. Supporting cast all perform well, too, including Antonio “Huggy Bear” Fargas as drug lord Nicky Carr and hot Patricia Charbonneau as the assistant D.A. and Dalton’s former flame. Sure some of the action is a bit overblown and the FX in the final showdown very cheesy, but Shakedown, as directed by Glickenhaus, is a down and dirty good time with a New York City bathed in neon lights, covered with empty crack vials and where sex, drugs and murder are a common occurrence. Add some 80s nostalgia to the mix and you have a whole six pack worth of Saturday night entertainment. One of my favorite 80s guilty pleasure action flicks. A fun movie.
MONSTEREZERO NJ EXTRA TRIVIA: The original title for the film and it’s title in other parts of the world was Blue Jean Cop which is a term used in the film for a cop on the take (dirty cops can afford designer jeans as opposed to Wranglers or Levis). Also, Director Glickenhaus made a few more flicks, including the campy Gary Busey action vehicle Bulletproof, before leaving show business to work at his father’s investment firm and became a successful investment professional and car collector.
3 and 1/2 bulletts!
BLACK MOON RISING (1986)
Originally written by John Carpenter, Black Moon Rising is a fun and sadly ovelooked 80s action thriller starring Tommy Lee Jones and Linda Hamilton. Jones plays professional thief Sam Quint who’s forced, when a hot pursuit gets a little too hot, to hide a stolen cassette in a protoype for a revolutionary new car “The Black Moon”. When Hamilton’s car thief Nina steals the prototype, Quint needs to get it back before his employers terminate his employment permanently. Now Quint needs the pretty car thief’s help and since Nina is not exactly happy with her own employer Ryland, (Robert Vaughn) she might just help the former CIA agent get what he wants…and it might just get them both killed.
Directed by Harley Cokeliss this is a fast paced and entertaining little movie that is so delightfully 80s at this point. It’s a combination of action and heist thriller and while it has the look of a TV movie from the time, it makes up for it in entertainment. Cokeliss takes Carpenter’s script…adapted by William Gray and Desmond Nakano…seriously, but also knows when to have a little fun and let the audience in on it. Carpenter’s influence can still be felt in the film with characters and some of the dialog bits being distinctly John Carpenter, despite his not being involved in the film’s production.
Rising has a good veteran supporting cast who all play their roles straight, including Keenan Wynn, Bubba Smith, Lee Ving as Quint’s slimy rival, Ringer and Richard Jaeckel as the Black Moon’s creator, who gets drawn into helping steal back his own car. Leads Jones and Hamilton have a nice chemistry together as the two thieves eventually join forces and there is a lot of fun watching them break into villain Robert Vaughn’s highrise fortress to steal the title vehicle back.
An entertaining little movie with a nice blend of action, suspense, romance and laughs that has sadly been forgotten, but definitely deserves to be rediscovered if not for the 80s nostalgia alone. It’s not perfect, there is some clunky dialog and it’s low budget keeps it somewhat restrained compared to some of today’s big budget caper thrillers and it’s final action set-piece could have had more impact, but it’s heart is in the right place and it tries hard. A fun flick that deserves a little more attention then it got.
…was it me…or did the latest Fast And Furious movie totally rip this off in the Abu Dhabi scene!