Sharky's Machine (1981) Poster

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Burt Goes In For Vice
bkoganbing6 December 2007
Sharky's Machine finds Burt Reynolds as a narcotics cop who after a failed buy and bust that wasn't his fault, but that got a few people killed in it, he finds himself demoted to the vice squad in Atlanta.

The prestige is hardly as good as the narcotics beat, but it does have its fringe benefits. One night after a roundup of working girls where one of their books falls into their hands, the guys ask for surveillance on Rachel Ward's place. She's an expensive item, servicing both notorious mobster Vittorio Gassman and law and order gubernatorial candidate Earl Holliman.

Their surveillance however records a murder and the rest of the film is Sharky and his new colleagues from vice trying to solve this prestige case.

Though it's a Burt Reynolds film and those usually have some humor to them, the comedy is kept in check as the film turns as deadly serious as Dirty Harry. It was reported in fact that Clint Eastwood was offered this film.

Look for some good performances by fellow vice cops Bernie Casey and Brian Keith and by Henry Silva the coked up brother of Gassman who does the dirty work of the organization and loves his job.

It's not a bad film, a mixture of Dirty Harry and Laura. Why Laura? You'll have to see Sharky's Machine for that answer.
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Arguably Burt's best.
gridoon21 June 2001
I haven't seen every single movie that Burt Reynolds has ever made, but this one (which I've just finished watching, for the third time) may very well be his best! It suffers only from some slow stretches; Burt perhaps tried to make it more "arty" than it should have been. On the other hand, he managed to avoid many of the usual cliches in the presentation of the "tough cop" role he plays (notice, for example, the scene in which he attempts to kiss Rachel Ward for the first time, or the fear he expresses just before the final showdown with the indestructible Henry Silva). In fact, Silva and those two ninja assassins are three of the most memorable villains of cop thrillers of the 80s. The film also has some offbeat touches, a surprising amount of humor, a brutal and gripping fistfight and many well-directed shots. (***)
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Ah, you'll die all right!
lastliberal11 December 2007
I like Burt Reynolds (Boogie Nights) playing a cop, and he didn't do too bad as a director here either.

He had a great supporting cast of cops and criminals: Vittorio Gassman makes a great crime boss; Henry Silva (Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai) makes a great psychopath; Brian Keith ("Family Affair"), Charles Durning (The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas), Bernie Casey, and Richard Libertini (A Grandpa for Christmas) all make great partners; and, there is, of course, Rachel Ward ("The Thorn Birds"), who got a Golden Globe nomination out of her performance.

Lots of action, superb performances, and a great story.
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Tight story, great period soundtrack and entertaining morality play. Character actor extravaganza!
Ricktrumpetman13 October 2004
The jazz soundtrack makes this seem like a Clint Eastwood movie.

In fact the whole thing strikes me as Burt doing Clint. The story is good and the movie is full of one liners that I carry with me to this day. (Reynolds to bad guy: I'm gonna pull the chain on you pal, because you're f'n up my town. And you wanna know the worst part? You're from outta state!)

Highlights: The Technics 1500B reel to reel is nice set dressing for audiophiles!

Charles Durning coming unglued while listening to wiretap tapes of prostitutes having (sort of) phone sex. (You'd have to see it, trust me, it's hilarious.)

Brian Keith plays against type as a tough guy. (And does it well!)

Bernie Casie's preoccupation with Zen.

Rachel Ward. WOW! (Where'd she go?)

Doc Severinsen and the Tonight Show band play their rears off as usual. (Joe William's guests on vocals. Manhattan Transfer re-recorded "Route 66".) The soundtrack lends class to the whole affair.

Need I say more? It might be Reynold's best film ever.

(Yeah, he plays himself, as usual, but it works!)

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A pretty well-oiled machine.
Poseidon-329 December 2002
In a departure from his customary late '70's/early '80's fare (and sporting a new, close-cropped toupee), Reynolds directed and starred in this tough, lurid crime drama. He plays a narcotics cop who, after slightly botching a drug bust, is demoted to the vice squad. Here, he becomes involved in the surveillance of a high-priced call girl (Ward) who is linked to a gubernatorial candidate (Holliman.) This leads to all sorts of violence and intrigue as it is discovered that the call girl is but one piece in a puzzle of corruption and criminal behavior. Reynolds does a decent job, both in the director's chair and in front of the camera. He wisely surrounds himself with an array of strong character actors and gives each of them the opportunity to register with the audience. His familiar brands of charm & sarcasm are present, but in a much more toned down way. Casey gets one of his most significant big screen roles, Keith has a few amusing moments and Durning bellows and mouths off in his enjoyable, expected way. Gassman is an appropriately sleazy crime lord and Silva is a chilling (if sometimes unintentionally funny) assassin. Ward's performance is a matter of taste. Many viewers are swept away by her looks and find her acting strong. Others see her as pretty, but unspectacular as an actress. In either case, this was a major showcase for her which did not translate to a major big screen career. Drawbacks of the film include a muddled storyline in which the bad guys' motivations aren't made particularly clear. Also, the sound effects and the blaring song score are cranked up much higher than the dialogue which makes for an uncomfortable audio situation. There is some nice aerial photography, notably containing shots of Atlanta's Peach Tree Tower. The music varies from classic tunes by top talent to loud, horrific and agonizing "music" by inferior singers whose voices are almost as bad as Reynold's torture on the boat. Though the film is engrossing and stylish, just a nip and tuck along the way would have made it even better.
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One of the best (if not the best) films Reynolds ever made
tbyrne417 February 2011
Superb, brutal, hard-boiled crime drama starring Burt Reynolds as a burned-out Atlanta cop transferred to the absolute slime hole of Atlanta's vice department after a drug deal turns sour. He's assigned to watch a high-class prostitute (Rachel Ward) and eventually gets caught up in some political double-dealing.

Superb action and a serious performance by Reynolds make this one a winner. It's also a complete change from the silly, lighter stuff that Reynolds had been doing for years prior to this. His performance was waning somewhat and this was a great way for him to prove he still had it.

One of the things I love about this movie is the texture of grit and sleaze. It really feels like a brutal, hellhole world that these guys live in. At the same time, the film finds ways to interject humor at the coolest moments. Henry Silva's villain is another strong point. There is a moment near the end where you see his gasping and wheezing silhouetted form, rasping out Sharky's name. It's a hard image to shake from your mind.
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Sharky: First Name, Sergeant.
Spikeopath2 March 2012
Sharky's Machine is directed by Burt Reynolds and written by William Diehl and Gerald Di Pego. It stars Reynolds, Vittorio Gassman, Rachel Ward, Henry Silva, Carol Locatell, Brian Keith, Bernie Casey, Earl Holliman and Charles Durning. Music is by Snuff Garrett and cinematography by William A. Fraker. Plot finds Reynolds as Atlanta narcotics cop Tom Sharky, who finds himself busted down to vice squad after a drug bust goes badly wrong. If he thought it was going to be dull and routine he is very much mistaken, for soon enough Sharky finds himself in deep with a high class prostitution ring, political corruption and cold blooded murder.

The Sharky's Machine of the title is the group of cops that Tom Sharky gathers for the case he is working on. What starts out as standard surveillance at the home of beautiful hooker Domino (Ward), turns into a bloody trip into the workings of the seedy kingpins pulling the strings. But the kicker here is that as Sharky becomes an unwilling voyeur to Dominoe's life, he finds himself falling for her. He's fascinated by her, he feels from a distance her sadness of a life that she knows no better of. Tom Sharky is a tough dude, a manly man, a perfect role for Reynolds in fact, but he also needs to be loved, he likes roses and wood carving, he looks back to a childhood lost, it's this compelling characterisation that lifts Sharky's Machine above many other cop thrillers in a similar vein.

The film is, however, still violent and unflinching in its observations of this seedy part of Atlanta. Scum, violence and abuse is never far away, and Reynolds the director shows a deft hand at balancing the rough with the smooth motions of the narrative. He also shows admirable restraint for sex scenes, choosing mostly to suggest rather than titillate, while his acting performance is top notch as he neatly layers the strands of Sharky's emotional psyche. Around Reynolds is an array of engaging professional performances, notably Casey, Keith, a wonderfully maniacal Silva and Ward, the latter of which blends smouldering sexuality with an innocence that tugs the old heart strings.

Some of the outcome is telegraphed early, and the ending, having been a frantic and bloody last quarter, is crowned too abruptly (a shame since it contains an awesome stunt), but much like Reynolds' 1975 film Hustle, this too is badly undervalued in the neo-noir universe. 8/10
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Loud, stupid, violent but kind of fun
preppy-32 January 2001
Vice copy (Burt Reynolds) falls for a high-price call girl (Rachel Ward) who's under the thumb of an underworld lord (Gassman). The storyline is highly improbable, has a VERY slow stretch with Reynolds watching Ward through binoculars, has tons of gunfights and gallons of blood. Also, very sleazy. Still, I was never really bored. I was in the mood for a stupid, violent movie and this delivered. Reynold is OK in the lead; Charles Durning is very funny as his boss (he basically walks around yelling and cursing--and enjoying it); Gassman is appropriately slimy as the underworld leader. Best of all is Ward--she is incredible gorgeous and gives this movie a much better performance than it deserves. Worth watching, solely for her.
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Burt Reynolds; the Orson Welles of the cop movie.
ianlouisiana14 December 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This is Burt Reynolds'"Citizen Kane".Tragically nothing else he was ever involved in came close to approaching "Sharkey's Machine".It seemed to me that he put everything he had into it.It is a movie that is in love with movies.The opening sequence where Detective Sharkey single-handedly rescues a bus-load of hostages is an immensely exciting piece of cinema. Everything moves so quickly once it has started to go wrong that it appears to take on a life of its own,a brilliantly achieved effect. It looks cold,tense and dangerous on Mr Reynolds' streets. The precinct house looks dirty and tired,full of desperate people on both sides of the law,shouting,cursing out,trying to do deals or just stay alive.Into this underworld descends the recently demoted Sharkey - a reward for a bungled drugs bust(caused by a corrupt cop) - he and his team are part of the vice squad.Information they pick up concerning a crooked politician leads them into the world of high-class call girls and ruthless drug barons. Watching the apartment of one such call-girl(Rachel Ward)Sharkey falls in love with her portrait on the wall(I know,I know)and when a woman's body is found with its face shot off in one of the rooms,he thinks its her.(Well,I did say it was a movie that loved movies). The scene where she walks in on him works beautifully,even if you have seen the original. The film is full of good touches,I particularly like Charles Durning's war story,subtly acted and shot in sharp contrast to Sharkey's abduction and torture which is suitably harsh and brutal. I must mention Vittorio Gassman and Henry Silva as two disparate but equally evil brothers with absolutely no redeeming features whatsoever. They are "full on" every time they're on screen and are no loss to society when their time comes,Mr Silva's end being extra special indeed. As has been mention,this is a Clint Eastwood movie that Clint never made.The biggest compliment I can pay "Sharkey's Machine" is to point out that in my opinion Clint Eastwood couldn't have made a better job of it. The soundtrack is of an equally high standard,featuring Sarah Vaughan,Joe Williams,Julie London,Chet Baker and other top class artists. Randy Crawford's "Street Life" plays behind the title sequence,and I can never hear it without ,in my mind's eye,seeing Sharkey striding along the sidewalk. Like other correspondents I have never understood why this film was a bit of a flop.I hope it is due for a critical revision,particularly at a time when so many cop movies and shows without a quarter of its energy , freshness and sheer joie de vivre are lauded from the rooftops. If you're ever tempted to think of Burt Reynolds as a burnt - out one - trick pony,put "Sharkey's Machine" in your video machine.I promise you won't be disappointed.
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Oddly sluggish cop thriller with some interesting elements
DrLenera25 March 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Often described as 'Burt Reynolds does Dirty Harry',in reality it's a more ambitious film that somehow doesn't quite work. The elements are certainly there-Reynolds convincingly tough and serious as a cop who still manages a few Eastwood style one-liners,a good supporting cast who get good character moments,convincing villains including Henry Silva in full-on scary psycho mode,a superb and varied jazz score, lots of good things are in this film.

However,Reynolds seems uncertain what kind of film he is making, and fails to smooth out the shifts in tone. The film is far too slow moving for a cop thriller,some of the character stuff is unnecessary and causes the movie to almost grind to a halt. Much of the first half is full of lighthearted banter alternating with some very effective moments showing Reynolds falling in love with Rachel Ward as the high class hooker he is surveilling,Reynolds very good in these scenes. After this the film uses an important plot twist stolen from a certain classic film noir{won't say which one as I like to keep my reviews spoiler free!} and let's the love story move to the fore. Very unconvincingly,Reynolds and Wards go from fighting each other to loving each other in about three minutes. After this,we at last get to see some of the violent action that we have been expecting,including some brutal scenes involving two ninja assassins and a well staged and suspenseful shoot out in a high building.

Not really enough attention was paid to the plot of this film,leaving questions like- why are the villains killing off policemen? Why does Reynolds confront the main villain and then leave,thereby causing more of his team to be killed? In the final shootout where are all the other cops that are supposedly in the building? Sharky's Machine is overall a bit of a mess,but it does have it's interesting elements and effective moments. Just don't expect non stop action.
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Wild, Entertaining Action Film But Marred By Excessive Profanity
ccthemovieman-117 May 2007
There are some tremendous action scenes in here, some of them really wild, and the film is interesting all the way. The only complaint I would have is that it is overly profane. You don't need profanity in almost every sentence. Give me a break.

That overdone language is especially not warranted when you a good story to start with, and an interesting cast. In this film, we have Burt Reynolds, Vitoorio Gassman, Rachel Ward, Brian Keith and Charles Durning.....and none of them are boring, believe me.

I enjoyed this a lot more when it came out 25 years ago. Now that I'm getting older and mellowing a bit, the overdone profanity in here ruined my enjoyment of it. I last saw this five years ago and never finished it which was disappointing since I bought the film instead of renting it.
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Victor's Perspective
WillDaBeeste12 August 2005
Meester Sharky, you look so ... normal. You would never get a table in this fancy cocktail restaurant/bistro. I, on the other 'and eat grapes and pate 'ere every day. You like my fur coat with all the fine trimming? My enormous golden rings of gold? Or maybe you like these blonde, 'ow you say?, bombshells, who are all qualified in aerobics and naked petanques, who decorate my long, maroon velvety sofa like so many soft boiled larks on a plate of pan fried foie gras and figs. You like? You can't have! Zey are all mine.

You will never possess 'er as I possessed 'er. Domino was the best, apart from Maman. You do not understand the art of lovemaking. Just look at your inferior moustache. It is almost funny to me, non, to think of that ludicrous protuberance on your silly face, as you snuffle around Domino's love hillock like the piggy seeking the truffle in the forest, the forest heaving and swaying in the hot winds of desire! You lose again Sharky.

When I make love to the women zey know, Sharky, zey know. Zey learn, zey learn until zey become the teacher. Not nano-maths, the arts of love. Domino was the seedling which I watered. I watered her so very often. Everywhere Sharky. Her scented petals, her proud stalk, everywhere. She will wither under your ridiculous hose, like the soufflé removed from the oven five minute too soon.

I must go now Sharky, you bore me so with your disgraceful behaviour. It is you who will be flushed down le pissoir like the smelly thing.

Bon chance!
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Re-edited down to 90 minutes this would be a far superior film .....
merklekranz30 July 2012
"Sharky's Machine" is a very frustrating film to watch. On one hand you have a compelling storyline, good acting by an intriguing cast, and tough action. Unfortunately the bursts of violence are strung together by some of the most tedious sequences ever. The surveillance of Rachael Ward goes on and on until it becomes nothing but a damn annoyance, and there are numerous other scenes that could have been trimmed or eliminated. If "Sharky's Machine" were re-edited down to 90 minutes it would be a far superior film. I realize this is never going to happen, so I suggest living with the fast forward button and doing your own re-editing. - MERK
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Burts last big movie and I can see why?
mm-397 May 2003
Warning: Spoilers
The beginning of this movie is great, and the last quarter that starts with the part where Sharky gets his thumb cut off is exciting. The middle is awful. Could it be script or director problem, I can not answer this. The film is destroyed with the middle, too slow for what should be a fast movie. It should have been one big build up until the climax with the office tower. This had the potential to be a classic. This project must of hurt the studio, along with the Canion Ball run, because Burt never got an A movie after these two. Watchable, but ruined 5 or 6 out of 10.
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There's a great movie in here somewhere
mickeyshamrock19 January 2010
I think the most important thing to keep in mind while watching SHARKY'S MACHINE is that Burt Reynolds directed it... that sunk in yet? OK good. I'm not knocking Reynolds' ability behind the camera, I actually think he does a commendable job (p.s. I'm a big Reynolds fan), I just always think it's important to note when an actor directs and stars in their own movie. Sure, it's dated and fairly rough around the edges, but there's a great movie in here that continually peeks through the cracks. Unfortunately it just never seems to peek through long enough to win over most viewers. However the movie features some good old fashioned cop stuff, some good old fashioned violence, and a great, good old fashioned bad guy (the lost art of the great bad guy) played by the always stellar Henry Silva. It also features an awesome stunt by stunt legend (whatever happened to stunt legends?) and Reynolds' STICK co-star, Dar Robinson. As usual, Reynolds is great in the title roll of Sharky - I've just always wondered if a more experienced director (perhaps John Frankenheimer) had helmed this film, and STICK for that matter, would that have elevated this film to action classic status? It's very possible...
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This is Sharky's city!
mylimbo30 August 2009
This was one of those films I would always come across (be it on TV or cheap DVD), but never struck me to give it a shot as I thought I wasn't missing out on much. It was on one night and I thought oh well… why not. A good decision too, as I would kick myself for taking so long to get around to it. For me it left me impressed, as it's up there with Burt Reynold's best features ('Deliverance', 'White Lightning' and 'Boogie Nights') and streams back to those 70s/80s gritty, hardboiled urban crime thrillers that weren't afraid to be forebodingly obscure and go out of their way to set-up characters, pack-it with realistically brutal force and effectively incorporate the local locations (Atlanta being the case here) to the fold with grounded photography. In certain shades it kind of reminded me of 'Dirty Harry', but that's loosely. However it's saucily honed blues score with its simmering kicks, funky shifts and unhinged sounds, very much had me thinking of Lalo Schifrin's pulsating score he orchestrated for 'Dirty Harry'. The music soundtrack on the other hand is hit or miss.

Sgt. Tom Sharky was an Atlantic narcotic agent before a slip-out during a bust saw him demoted to vice work. Along with his new squad they come across a prostitution ring, which catches their interest due to fact it's owned by one hard-to-track and to convict crime lord. What they dig up involves a prominent government figure and a call-girl which can give them some important names, but they must get to her before she's made a target.

Burt Reynold's acts, but also directs in an unyieldingly firm and muscular fashion which would suit his laconically hard-nosed performance and Gerald Di Pego's thematically hard-bitten and taut screenplay (that was adapted from William Diehl's novel). Well he does show some sort of heart/insightful thoughts amongst that armor within the scenes involving the fetchingly able British actress Rachel Ward, be it the stake-out scenes when he's watching her from another building (and slowly becoming infatuated by her) to when they finally come together, but these latter interactions mid-way through do slow up the momentum but give it noir like strokes. The performances are fairly spot on with Reynold's formulating a great rapport with exceptional actors Charles Durning, Earl Holliman, Brian Keith, Richard Libertini and Bernie Casey. The scathing profanity and witty dialogues between these guys were a blast. As for the corrupt villains, Vittorio Gassman builds imposing strength and power, but it's Henry Silva (who seems born for these roles) icily cunning and unstoppable turn that makes the show. Where his appearance seems to outline things to come and help them fall into place. Plus his adrenaline-filled and violent cat and mouse climax with Sharky and his team is brilliantly done.

The exciting action passages might be quick and dry, but remain lethally violent like an immensely teeth-grinding interrogation sequence. Some handy, old fashion filming techniques add to the suspense. The intriguing material keeps it quite tactical being character derived, but when we think its smooth sailing it offers up a blunt surprise or two along with some intensely brunt confrontations.
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Don't Mess With Sharky
Bolesroor12 February 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Frm the opening strains of Randy Crawford's spunky "Street Life" to the final shot, "Sharky's Machine" is a lean, mean 80's-cop action extravaganza.

Okay, it's not "Citizen Kane." I don't think it was intended to be. But we have some very nice things going on here. First, Burt Reynolds (who I otherwise despise) is actually very good in his role as a weary, frustrated cop. And maybe this wasn't all acting- this film was made at about the same time Burt Reynolds' star power was beginning to fade, and he looks suitably humbled and remorseful. Whether he's acting or not his demeanor is perfect for the character- the cackling, smarmy Burt that we're used to would have ruined the role.

Next, we have our All-Star Team of Character Actors: Charles Durning, Bernie Casey, Brian Keith, Richard Libertini and horror-face himself Henry Silva. With a supporting cast like this you can't possibly go wrong. These guys make every forgettable scene substantial and give the movie an organic, timeless look. The highlights are Bernie Casey waxing zen about his near-death experience and Charles Durning's comedic frustration with his offbeat police staff. The movie is subtle but very funny.

Finally, there is Rachel Ward. Gorgeous, sexy, and engaging… she is as good here as she was in "Against All Odds." (And is it me or does it seem like every male character goes crazy for her?) You can see why... she just has the right amount of mystery and sexuality that keeps you hanging on her every word. She brings the movie up a whole letter grade.

So is "Sharky's Machine" a classic? An all-timer? No, not really. But if you like good, fun, violent, fast-moving urban action cop flicks this is a must-see. Enjoy!

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Never count this film out, it keeps getting up and punching
darrenkoneill31 August 2009
I have always been a huge Burt Reynolds fan, I've always admired his humility and his way of engaging with the audience be it as actor or Director.

The film opens to the enchanting tones of Randy Crawford signing Street life, incidentally the film ends on a duet to what closely must resemble the sound of the emasculation of two cats with a blunt knife.

Anyway Sharky is demoted to Vice when 'he' messed up a drug bust. Down in Vice is where we meet the gang who all add wonderful dimensions to this film and each shines in his role, Charles Durning is hilarious he screams with such intensity you really become concerned for his blood pressure.

Just when it looks like Vice might be boring a whole can of worms opens up when they begin to stake out some 'High class' call girls (the stake out is a little long almost in real time), the plot involves a puppet politician and the puppet master played amazingly by the one and only Vittorio Gassman.

Sharky starts to fall for 'Dominoe' (gorgeous but she's gotta give up the cigarettes she sounds like the Bouvier sisters from the Simpsons) one of the 'High Class' call girls, incidentally Burt Fell for another 'High Class' call girl in 'Hustle'.

Burt was very generous with the script he gave some of the best stuff to the supporting cast, in actual fact sometimes through the movie in his quest to build Sharky as the strong silent type the lack of script for himself turned Sharky into the strong boring type. This was very apparent when he was finally with Dominoe at his pad, he was pining around like a 13 year old. He couldn't string two words together he just looked bashful so bashful he almost looked mentally challenged, he did everything bar kicking his heels looking at the floor and saying "Gee golly I ain't never done kissed no girl be fower hu hulk".

In all it's a very entertaining film, it drags a bit here and there, but it always comes back to life and the last 30 minutes are a roller-coaster, watch out for Henry Silva who plays a whacked out hit man, my favorite scene is when he points his gun at Arch and…..
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What's he auditing for, a job at Benihana's?
sol121821 September 2005
***SPOIERS*** Atlanta crime auctioneer with Burt Reynolds,Sgt. Sharky, and his tough and well oiled "Sharky's Machine" Let. Frisco, Charles Durning, and officers Papa & Arch, Brian Keith & Berney Casey, breaking up the Atlanta crime Syndicate who's on the verge of putting "Their Man" in the Geroria Governor's State House.

Busted after messing up a major drug police sting operation, with the drug dealer and a number of innocent pedestrians shot and killed, Sgt. Sharky was transfered into vice. Busting hookers johns and perverts Sgt. Sharky finds a list of call girls in the wallet of a top Atlanta pimp and after bugging one of the call girls apartment it turns out that she's having Don Hotchkins, Earl Holliman, a candidate for governor as a regular costumer.

As Sharky starts to investigate this strange arraignment he finds out that the good family man, married with five children, Hotchkins is also on the payroll of Vittorio "Victor" Gassman the mob "Godfather" of Atlanta.The high-price call-girl Dominoe, Rachel Ward,who's involved with Hotchkins is tired of being a hooker and want's to leave Victor's stable of call-girls and live with Hotchkins as his live-in mistress after he gets elected governor of Georgia, which is already a forgone conclusion, but their's only one slight hitch; will Victor let go of her.

Tangling with the Gassman Syndicate the corrupt Atlanta police and city officials, as well as the local Chinese mob, Sgt. Sharky ends up losing most of his men, including two of his fingers, as he brings down the Gassman Mafia in a final shoot-out with the his Mobsters at the famous Atlanta Peachtree Plaza Hotel's.

Statueques and beautiful Rachel Ward as Dominoe is thought to have been murdered by Gassman's drugged-out hit-man Billy Score,Henry Silva,who blew her face off with a shot gun but in reality it turned out that he really killed Dominoe's call-girl room-mate Tiffany, Aarika Wells, with Dominoe away in the country.

Sharky, who was in love with Dominoe from afar, found out the truth about her being alive and to the surprise and shock of mob kingpin Victor Gassman is going to use her, by getting Dominoe to testify against him, to put Gassman and his mob away for good but the cunning and vicious Victor wasn't going to go willingly and let Sharky know it sooner then he thought.

Blood spattering shootout at the Peachtree Plaza Hotel in the films final sequence with Shark'y Machine having it out with the almost indestructible junkie hit-man Billy Score. Shooting it out on the hotel stairway both Billy Score and Sharky's machine member Arch come face to face with Billy's drug induced invincibility clashing with Arch's Zen reality alerting philosophy in what can best be said to be a battle of two cultures: West and East.
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Overlooked modern noir
JimFK30 June 1999
An intense, dark action drama with unusually rich support from Casey, Keith, et. al, many of whom get the best roles of their careers and run with it. The film is oddly shaped -- often the action slows down just to let the characters get caught up in odd but well-done seemingly improved dialogues -- during the stakeouts, almost all of the "Machine" get caught up in perfectly delivered humorous monologues -- and Reynolds the director deserves mucho credit for having Reynolds the star step back and give them room. And unlike most action films, you really get to like the characters, which makes the 2nd half, when their various destinies good and bad unfold, unusually affecting. The combination of character development, brutal violence, a jazzy soundtrack (Tarantino must be a fan -- watch this & then "Jackie Brown" and you'll see what I'm talking about)make this occasionally flawed film (The bad guys are a bit melodramatic) one of the better modern cop films, and in my mind superior to many of the overrated modern noirs such as "Body Heat" & such.
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Minor classic - top notch noir thriller
dust-730 August 2000
Warning: Spoilers

One of Reynolds' best, up there with Deliverance (easy to forget this guy gave the world some good films, and some good performances). One of my favorites. And Reynolds directed, as well - heck of a job! It's a tale of dueling 'machines', with a few more good guys left standing, at the end, than bad guys (Sharkey claims 4 in his group, at one point - but it's more). It starts: Sharkey, the cop, gets demoted to - yes - the basement, and the vice division, along with the other 'losers'. They pick up a self-sure hooker at Holliman's rally. But when they get her back to the crowded basement lock-up, she overreacts when accidentally mentioning, in a bitter little screed, the $1000 a night "thoroughbred" of a pimp just being released from custody - and thus begins the grisly tale.

It's a great supporting cast. That's a good deal of the movie, right there. Bernie Casey - "Better get some WINGS!" Earl Holliman as a heavy, a crooked politico on Gassman's 'payroll'. Rat packer Henry Silva, quintessential psycho heavy from back in the 1950s. Brian Keith. Gassman. Durning as part of the 'Reynolds stable', perhaps (pretty much the comic relief, really). Rachel Ward, in one of her most memorable roles. Need one go on? Great cast - maybe THE best Reynolds ever worked with. You can't do a film, like this, without a cast like this. It makes all the difference.

It's been said that Clint Eastwood remarked that while he was making his 'monkey movies' (which aren't so bad on second viewing, perhaps - years later), he saw Reynolds was making an 'Eastwood' movie. You had the cool jazz/RnB opening - just great music; can't hear Street Life, now, without flashing on the opening scene from the chopper down to the train tracks. You had the violence, the raised volume on the gunshots (like Spielberg with Drew's scream in the early video releases of ET). Rachel prob. wasn't quite as edgy, maybe a little rounder in more ways than one than say, a Sondra Locke. But you could see this film with Eastwood - with more of an edge, little less 'smirky', a little less soft and reflective even, beyond the level of personal lament, maybe.

But with the almost film noir/torch song jazz score, and Reynolds, in fact it's more a throwback to the hard detective pot boilers, at least in various scenes, than the fed-up near-assassin of Dirty Harry. It reads, at times, like one of those old crime novels. The early running through the tapes - who does that sound like to you? - views like something some novelists would have written; like a play translated to the big screen. And, throughout, you almost get the sense a few chapters have been dropped, for sake of screen time, as well. You get the same sense of a novel as they peep Rachel from across the street, and Bernie runs on about zen - an anticipation of the bad guy, as we see in the climax of the movie, it turns out. You just 'pull your antenna in'. It's 'metaphysical'.

The killer, the hired 'muscle', of course, is essential. A weak heavy makes for a weak film. And the brother, the dead-eyed Silva is, again, almost the stereotypically believable heavy. He looks utterly - evil, crazy and diabolical, and far too good at what he does; consider his breakdown and murderous reaction to the dismissal by the brother Gassman, before the climax, the insanity of it all, the desperation it suggests for the final scene. Smiley, as the weasel, is believable as that. He's dangerous, and annoying as heck. It's difficult to know why he was in the garage in the opening scene, which ultimately triggered Sharkey's demotion. But that's the chapter that got lost, again, maybe. The 'kung fu' guys, admittedly, do seem a little weak. They hit, and they bounce, and they kick and bump. And nobody goes down until just the last. But it's a minor complaint.

Rachel is little stiff, at times. But we might believe that as part of maintaining her delusions, as borne of money; little rich girl with expensive collectables, a woman of refined 'taste and breeding', it would seem on the surface. And the character likes to hear herself talk, basically. Domino thinks she's just great. And Ward turns in a fine performance. Again, with the noir music behind her crying into the mirror as the whore revealed for the moment, to the outburst and the famous screaming denial to Sharkey who only wants information. It's an interesting, and tragic, character. And she's part of the happy ending.

Overall, it's a good film, with great music, top flight actors turning in some good work. The editing is crisp. The bad team is really bad. The good guys are really in danger, and some don't survive, and some end up permanently maimed. The story moves along with one or two gaps from the book, you just sense. There's some cliche, particularly that the movie gave rise to (as did 48 Hours). The final shootout is a little forced - as in why weren't the stairs crawling with men in blue? But the gunfight between Silva and Casey is remarkable, at that, as is the final suicide an image that stays with you. That is, you can sort of believe the characters, and find yourself in the story. It's a good effort, that way. The only real moral, if there is one, is that for all the flaws of the good guys, Sharkey's tenacity, in various contexts and various scenes, pays off. The bad guys lose their lives or the wicked dreams they'd planned so carefully. And it wasn't even so much due to the machine, as to the one man - as we fade into some lounge jazz, with the neon lights outside the window (or something like that, instead of the playground swing).
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"Dirty Harry" of the East Coast!
Brian T. Whitlock (GOWBTW)22 November 2005
Great just great! The West Coast got "Dirty" Harry Callahan, the East Coast got Sharky. Burt Reynolds plays Sharky in "Sharky's Machine" and I enjoyed every minute of it. Playing a maverick narcotics cop in Atlanta, GA is just what everyone wants. Instead of suspension, he's sent to vice squad. Like in the Dirty Harry movies or any other cop movies, the captain is always going to be the jerk. When I was a kid, I was curious what that movie meant "Sharky's Machine". Well I knew who played Sharky, I wonder what his machine was. It was his GROUP of fellow cops. After uncovering the murder, he goes all out to find the perp. When it turns out to be a big time mob boss, Sharky doesn't play around. When he gets the other prostitute into safety, Sharky fights back hard and good despite losing a finger to the thug. And I also like the part where the bad gets blown out of the building through a plate glass window. That was the BOMB! Randy Crawford's "Street Life" really put the movie in the right mood, and the movie itself is really a great hit to me, ALWAYS! Rating 4 out of 5 stars.
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