Bullet Points: Street Crimes
From the moment I popped Street Crimes into my VCR (yes I said VCR), I had a feeling that the movie was going to be different than some of the other PM Entertainment produced movies I have watched and reviewed for the site.
Maybe it was because Dennis Farina received top billing. If Farina is the star he’s not going to be entering into any sort of kickboxing competition (either sanctioned or underground). No, if they were smart, they’d make Farina a cop (and they did). I will go on record and say that Dennis Farina is among the Top 5 Actors to have believably portrayed a cop in the movies and/or television. And that is because Dennis Farina at one point was actually a cop so he instantly brought a believability factor all the method actors in the world could not bring. The movie did feature kickboxing (a PM Entertainment staple) and that portion of the movie was carried expertly by one of my personal favorites, Michael Worth.
- If You Ever: …wanted to watch Michael Worth shop for a new vehicle, then this is the movie for you. Yes, that vibe that Street Crimes was going to be different was strong as I watched a salesman trying his hardest to get rookie police detective Tony (Michael Worth) to drive home in a new car in the movie’s opening scene. I can’t recall any other action movie starting off this way, but this was still an action movie, it couldn’t possibly start off with something so mundane as shopping for a new car. And that’s when the armed robbers show up. There were three in total and while Tony was able to use his martial arts prowess to take out two of the three, the third guy managed to get away in the very car that Tony was about to buy, by driving it through the showroom window. Did I mention that both of the salesman who were on duty were killed in cold blood? That seemed a little extreme to me. I can only assume that writer/director Steven Smoke had an awful car buying experience prior to the filming of this movie and incorporated the death of the car salesemen to exorcise his car buying demons.
- Ball Busters: As you might imagine the rookie detective gets a lot of flack from his more experienced co-workers including partner Brian (Dennis Farina of Code of Silence fame), Happy (Joe Banks of Toy Soldiers fame) and Flannigan (Max Gail of D.C. Cab fame). The trio of veteran detectives even go so far as to set up young Tony with a transvestite, a fact he apparently finds out the hard way after he agrees to drive her home from the bar. But nobody is safe from the ball busting in this circle of cops. They make Happy sad when they crack wise about his wife leaving him. And they are more than happy to spread the gossip that Flannigan’s wife is having an extramarital affair with a vacuum cleaner salesman. These moments of the movie definitely made the film and the characters seem more real.
- Love is Blind: Brian isn’t always tough on his rookie partner, in fact he invites him over for dinner one evening. It is there that Tony meets Brian’s daughter Susan. Susan has been blind since she was a teenager after an automobile accident. That accident also took her mother’s life. While Brian is not 100% supportive of the budding romance between his daughter and his partner, he does like the program that Tony more or less fell into. It is a program where a neighborhood youth center is re-opened and where kids, who would otherwise be gang banging or getting high on the streets, can play basketball or even step into the ring with members of the police force. Yes… Street Crimes suggests that the tension between the police and the disenfranchised youth of the nation can be solved through kickboxing. God bless the 1990’s.
- Past, Present and Future: The community at large is very supportive of the revitalized youth center and while it isn’t solving all of the inner city woes, it is starting to make a difference. The youth center goes from a dank, cob webbed filled room, to a freshly painted well lit gymnasium in no time. The fights are attracting a lot of attention both from the community and from the newspapers and some unwanted attention from drug kingpin, Gerardo (James T. Morris). Gerardo’s business is starting to take a hit, with so many members of the community now spending time doing something meaningful with their lives and not wasting it smoking crack. Tony and Gerardo are no strangers to one another, back in the day they used to be running buddies, but they grew apart as each chose a different path in life. When Gerardo realizes that Tony’s youth center program is not just some passing fad, he starts doing some pretty nefarious things in order to get Tony to leave that neighborhood. The future of the neighborhood is now relying on the outcome of the inevitable Tony vs. Gerardo final showdown.
If I had to pick one thing that set Street Crimes apart from the other PM Entertainment movies I have seen, I would say that one thing was heart. The relationship between Brian and his daughter, Tony’s courage to do what was right and the way that the community reacted to what he was doing… it all gave Street Crimes a layer of emotion you don’t often see in the action world. The increased emphasis on story meant Street Crimes was not as action packed as some of the other PM offerings, but there was still plenty of kickboxing excitement and even a little police action thrown in too. The important thing to me was that the action that was in there all fit within the context of the story. None of the action was just thrown in to meet some sort of kicking quota.
And again I’d like to point out how the inclusion of the late Dennis Farina really gave the movie a different vibe. I can only imagine what a young Michael Worth was thinking when he was working with a veteran and pro like Farina on what was only Worth’s second starring role in a feature film.
- Worst Cover Ever: The Street Crimes DVD cover above may be one of the worst covers ever. First of all it contains a major spoiler. Look how beat up Gerardo is. There’s no way he’s winning if he looks like that. It appears like they took a horizontal shot of Gerardo and re-positioned it to be vertical for a classic face to face cover. Second, of all the times to not give Michael Worth second billing. This is the worst Michael Worth movie cover I’ve ever seen and that includes the African hand painted To Be the Best one Michael Worth himself alerted me to. #NameDrop
- Reunited: As I mentioned earlier, Stephen Smoke was the director of Street Crimes. Smoke also directed Worth’s other 1992 release, Final Impact. Street Crimes and Final Impact were also the ONLY films Stephen Smoke ever directed.
- If You Ever: …wanted to see Dennis Farina defenestrate a pedophile, then this is the movie for you.