Directed by Albert Magnoli. Starring Jeff Speakman. (1993)
REVIEWED By Louis Black, Fri., March 19, 1993
Actioners are basically revenge fantasies acted out in different narrative configurations. The genre is basically dominated by wooden leading men. Unfortunately, this has led scores of producers to star any handsome martial arts expert they can dig up, hoping to find the next Chuck Norris. The actors who work in these films (and it's an almost all-male clan: Schwarzenegger, Jean-Claude Van Damme, the dreaded Steven Seagal) usually figure out how to play a character with a limited emotional range and the ability to work through all the situations in the film. Speakman doesn't have a clue. I don't mean to rave on about Norris. It's just that if compared to Norris, Speakman can't act. Writer and director Magnoli helmed Purple Rain and for those who've always wondered if that talent was primitive art or just primitive, stylistically this argues for the former. There is a certain intelligence to Magnoli as a director if there is absolutely none to his achievements as a writer. Given no help from the script, with a vacuum as star, this silly tale about ex-cops murdering rival black and Hispanic gang members in order to start a major gang war so they can throw the city into chaos gets sucked into itself. If you give it even a casual look, there's nothing there.