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**SPOILERS** After spending a rainy Christmas Eve with the old lady,
whom he's separated from, and the kids private eye Michael Brenner,
O.J. Simpson,on his way home to his apartment in San Francisco stops at
this lonely roadside café for a cup of coffee.
After being razzed by one of the costumers Joey Crawford, John Spencer, with cheap and off-color jokes, at his expense, nice guy Brenner gives the abusive Joey a ride back home where, after taking even more BS from Joey, he slips him his business card. A week later Brenner get's this letter and a message from his answering service from Joey about finding his missing girlfriend Dani Anatole, Irena Frris. There's also a $1,000.00 bill, a Grover Cleveland, in it as a retainer For Brenner to find Dani. It turns out that Joey was killed the night before in an "car accident" on purpose and Brenner ,even though he realizes that he's new client Joey is no longer alive, takes the case anyway.
O.J tries hard to be a tough as nails PI in the mold of a Humphery Bogart but come across just too unconvincing. Even when he's belted around in the film by a Chinese cocaine gang all O.J has to show for it is a small band-aid on his right cheek that actually makes him look cute instead of hard boiled.
Brenner tracks down Dani, though a pad of food stamps mailed to her at her sister Catherine's, Cindy Pickett, mansion in the ultra rich Pacific Heights section of San Francisco. Brenner finds out that not only is she gone but that Dani is a cocaine junkie,with Joey as her supplier, as well as being involved together with Joey with the San Francisco Chinese mob.
Going to see her cousin Riki Anatole, Cliff Gorman, the president of the very successful Anatole Fish Corp. Brenner senses that Riki had some relationship with Dani that he's keeping from him and that his wife Lilian, Maureen Anderman, knows about and is very upset by it. Brenner goes even deeper into this swamp of secretly that involves the powerful and well connected Anatole family by seeing the clans patriarch old man Orestes Anatole, Leonardo Cimino. It's Old Man Anatole who built up the Anatole fish empire back during probation in the 1920's and 30's.
It tuned that Old Man Anatole made his millions by shipping booze, instead of fish, using the fish company as a front for his illegal operations and that his grandson Niki just stepped into his shoes. Niki instead of shipping booze in the San Francisco Bay area is shipping boatloads of illegal cocaine. Dani and Joey got hooked up with the dangerous Tan Ng gang which was moving in on Niki's drug operations and that lead to Joye's, and possibly Dani's, murder. Now that Banner was getting too close to what's happening, between the Anatole and Tan Ng drug gangs, his life is in extreme danger of getting snuffed out by either one of them.
Cliff Goreman gives by far the best acting performance in the movie as the intense and moody Niki Anatole who even when he dies at the end of the movie put more life into his role then O.J does in his, as PI Michael Brenner, fully alive and kicking. The biggest surprise in the film has to be Niki's sarcastic and loud mouth wife Lilian who really knows all about her husbands infidelity and in the end did everything what she had to do to put a stop to it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I've never heard nor read about anyone who is particularly fond of this
movie, but for some reason or another, I still like chugging it into
the VCR from time to time to relax and enjoy a fun crime/detective
Even though O.J. is not particularly well known for his histrionic adeptness, he still comes across as an entertaining P.I. On occasion, some silly race badgering goes back and forth between O.J. and the other characters, but most of it is for humor's sake, poking fun at ridiculous racial stereotypes, etc. His relationship with his "ex" and his estranged son also has a few entertaining flash points of humor.
For the story line itself, it presents a fairly nicely developed plot segue from murder victim to possible dope/mob connections and inevitably to some nefarious tie-ins to a highly regarded upper-echelon San Francisco family. Nothing really earth-shaking from a standpoint of screenplay originality, but nonetheless entertaining. I very much enjoyed the narrative O.J. presents throughout the picture: laid-back, yet informative.
So, for a fun film romp back to the days prior to Judge Ito, check this out sometime!
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