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Sharky's Machine More at IMDbPro »

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6 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Burt Reynolds; the Orson Welles of the cop movie.

Author: ianlouisiana from United Kingdom
14 December 2005

*** This review may contain 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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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

He Pulls The Chain On Him

Author: ArchAngel Michael from Sword Of The Protector
9 December 2015

Spoilers Ahead:

I love this movie but I will be honest with you; it is not without flaws. Let's get them out of the way. Despite the great cast, Burt is a great actor but not so fantastic a director. The by play with the vice crew yelling at Friscoe, Durning's worst performance, is painful. As is the great character actor Libertini also, inexplicably, shouting all the time. Whenever Friscoe is on the screen he is bellowing until you are sure he is going to fall over with a coronary. Casey and Keith are great in their little roles. Silva, the executioner, steals the movie as Death in the flesh. The two of them Victor and Silva are worth owning this movie for. The villains are the make or break point of these kind of films. You will just loathe Gassman who has one last night of fun with Dominoe before having her killed the next day. Ward gives a very good performance as a very worldly cynical prostitute. For me, Holliman's delineation of a crooked politician, in Gassman the pimp's pocket, is what gives this existential depth. Renolyds was not known for having very complex writing in his movies (The Hal Needham films) yet here he draws very deeply well written characters. Gassman's evil is quite understated; he simply uses these call girls to get his tentacles into powerful men and put the arm on them. Sharkey starts the movie in disgrace getting some civilians killed in a gun-battle with a drug dealer on a bus.

It contains one of the most intense torture scenes outside of Deliverance when Sharkey humiliates Gassman in public and says my header which is worth the purchase alone,"It feels like you're a lump of S in my toilet and I got my hand on the chain. I'm going to pull the plunger on you pal." Silva does what he perfected in The Manchurian Candidate: a murderous, icy psycho. Here he wires himself up on PCP before going out, shotgun in hand, to kill on his rich pimp brothers' orders. Gassman has nothing but contempt for him which he makes the fatal mistake of showing. This movie is not your typical Burt movie. Not brainless and full of mindless stunts like Stoker Ace or Hooper; also, not light or vapid like Smokey. This is the one of two Burt movies I own; Gator just was too corny for me. The above flaw with Durning shrieking incessantly is a very small part of this old classic. What is sad is that young people formed this image of him based upon his many bad films and will avoid this one. As he watches Dominoe, they share the time together and the loneliness of being a cop on stakeout is well delineated. The performances of Burt and Ward will surprise you along with the intensity of the movie.

The violence, once decried in 1981, is now quite mild but still intense for a typical Renolyds' movie. The film develops and moves well; the double agent in the police force is well written and you won't guess who until the very end. Gassman is just as good here in English as he is in his many Italian classics. This is what sets the movie on my shelf; yes, Burt's direction is shaky at times, Durning is just poorly written but Gassman, Silva, Keith and Casey are why you want to own this. Sharkey is written as a very closed off, violent, unpredictable cop; it is not your everyday Burt. It is also, thankfully, devoid of his usual admiring of himself as in those awful Hal Needham flicks. Renoylds is able to make us care about his character as a lonely, disgraced homicide cop sent down to vice as a demotion. There are a few quiet surveillance moments that give it unusual depth; they share their loneliness across the wire as he watches and listens to her life.

Believe me, I am not a big Burt guy. Most of his movies I cannot stand. It has flaws but it also is a very intense cop movie. His surrounding of himself with, honestly, much better actors was a very wise move on his part. The photography, music and pacing are excellent. One of his least known and best movies. This and the unknown Breaking In are the only two of his movies I own.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Don't Mess With Sharky

Author: Bolesroor from New York, NY USA
12 February 2011

*** This review may contain 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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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Never count this film out, it keeps getting up and punching

Author: darrenkoneill from United Kingdom
31 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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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

This is Sharky's city!

Author: lost-in-limbo from the Mad Hatter's tea party.
30 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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4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Oddly sluggish cop thriller with some interesting elements

Author: DrLenera
25 March 2005

*** This review may contain 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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very good police drama.

Author: wkozak221 from United States
10 September 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I like Burt Reynolds. I like Deliverance, Switching Channels,Stick, etc. . I find he can do comedy or drama. He is very good at playing a friend out for revenge or a cop. I like all the actors in here. They do a very good job in their roles. Maybe a little less yelling. The action is well paced. It does drag in spots. The scenes where you hear but don't see Domino drag. I wish they re-thought those scenes. I keep watching to cheer when the bad guys go down. I wish Reynolds did more cop films. He was very good as Dan August. I also like that he was a stunt man before becoming big. Its nice to see the star do most of his stunts in a movie.

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corruption city

Author: Lee Eisenberg ( from Portland, Oregon, USA
2 May 2016

Burt Reynolds directs himself as an Atlanta cop investigating prostitution ring tied to a political candidate. My favorite scene in "Sharky's Machine" came early on, when Reynolds's character gets demoted to the vice squad and walks down to the bottom floor, finding what the vice squad looks like (and showing how it reflects all the sleazy stuff that they have to investigate). That scene is merely an introduction to the slimy things that Sharky and his colleagues will come across over the course of the movie.

I suspect that a lot of the scenes of Rachel Ward half-dressed will interest people, but those are more peripheral to the movie's action. The environs of Atlanta set the stage for all manner of lowlife activity. And when I say lowlife, I mean that there are some INTENSE scenes. It's not any kind of great movie but I enjoyed it.

The rest of the cast includes Vittorio Gassman, Charles Durning, Bernie Casey and Brian Keith.

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Under rated cop film directed and starring Burt Reynolds

Author: dworldeater from United States
12 April 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Sharky's Machine is an exceptional police thriller in the vein of Dirty Harry, directed and starring Burt Reynolds. Sharky's Machine is a gritty, and noir influenced crime film with a dark urban ambiance amped up by its jazzy score. While it is in the same genre as Dirty Harry, I would also regard Sharky's Machine as an urban Dante's Inferno. It just has that kind of feel. Burt is Sgt. Sharky, a former narcotics cop that got demoted to vice after one of his fellow officers blew his cover resulting in a shootout in the streets where innocent people get shot. He soon finds camaraderie with his fellow officers in the vice squad (Brian Keith and Bernie Casey)as well as mutual respect for his new boss(Charles Durning). Dominoe (Rachael Ward) is a high priced call girl that is owned by ruthless mobster Victor D'Anton(Vittorio Gassman). While doing surveillance on Dominoe (who is having an affair with the governor) things go awry. Sharky and friends soon find evidence of high level corruption that gets them over their heads. When the evidence leads to crimelord Victor D'Anton the layers of high level corruption peel like a banana. Victor is not so easy to bring down when he has a psychopath, drug addict brother as his main hit-man and has crooked cops and kung fu killers at his disposal. Sharky has an instant attraction to Dominoe and in working on this case, their fondness for one another grows. Burt gives one of his best and most well rounded performances as Sgt. Sharky from his most tough and volatile, to his more vulnerable moments as well. The film is remarkable, well acted and well put together overall. Sharky's Machine is a great film that is complex, hard hitting and in my opinion, very under rated.

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Burt's well oiled machine

Author: videorama-759-859391 from adelaide, australia
18 August 2015

Sharky's Machine is one of Burt's most exciting films, and one of his best, not only that, when you consider he directed this. This glamorized piece has an exciting story, and some fantastic performances, notably from Vittorio Gassman, as a high class pimp, his psychopathic hit man brother (evil faced Henry Silva) unforgettable as is his demise in an explosive, and unforgettable finale. Burt plays Ray Sharky, who's sting operation is botched by another colleague, who provides a surprise twist of character, later on. He's demoted to vice, making friends fast with the other boys. What I really liked here was the mateship among this squad, this film one of the best examples, some deeply written characters, you really get to know, where you want to be part of it. Burt assigns them in the wake of a mob hit, involving government ties, and a high class prostitute/wannabe dancer (Ward) involved with a senator, who must be silenced. Burt bugs her place, and of course, is smitten by her. When mistaken for another pro, who buys the farm, bloodily, Burt takes Ward under his guard, and a romance blossoms, Burt first losing it with her at earlier, which was amusing. Ward's pro character, is surprisingly someone we really get to know, and is painted as a much more down to earth character, something rarely seen in pro characters, to this extent. There is some nasty 80's gore in this R rated pic, one torture scene with Burt, minus some fingers, is more implicit. SM I like for many reasons, most of all, it's the excitement factor, with a exciting story at play, where so much is going on, you kind of do feel it does lose itself. It doesn't bog itself down, with a less than more thing going on, which to it's advantage, makes this exciting film more intriguing. Durning is great as the cranky chief of the vice squad, the bleachers scene on the baseball grounds, a cool one, as is the one with Burt hatefully confronting Gassman and his stable of girls at that restaurant, where Burt's admittance of something, causing his nemesis to see red. Though the most memorable moment, is that second to last scene with Reynolds unleashing vengeance on Silva, a wonderfully shot moment, etched in your memory of this classic, where Burt really scores.

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