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Corrupt (1983) was a very good film. The movie is about a pair of
corrupt cops (Harvey Keitel is one of them) who spend their illegal
dough on an uptown New York City flat. It's unfurnished because they
didn't have anymore money to put furniture in it. John Lydon stars as a
very disturbed youngster who plays a bizarre game of cat-and-mouse with
Harvey. He convinces him that he's the notorious cop killer that has
been hunting police officers. Harvey kidnaps him and makes him his
permanent guest inside his apartment. Is John the corrupt cop killer?
Can Harvey get to the bottom of this twisted case before or will he get
caught up in some twisted and sick mind games? To find out you'll have
to get Corrupt!
A rarely seen film that is in the hands of the public. Since their is no true owner of this movie, scores of terrible copies are floating around the market place. The only legitimate copy of this film I have seen was the mid-eighties release from Thorn-E.M.I. The true title is Corrupt, any other copy is a crappy transfer (Cop Killer) and their has been no official D.V.D. release either. Any copy on this format is nearly unwatchable and horribly edited. Try and find the old eighties copy on Thorn/E.M.I. Stay away from others.
P.S. John Lydon's pop group Public Image Limited was supposed to score the soundtrack for this film. He even worked on the soundtrack with his band mate Keith Levene and Martin Atkins over the phone (long distance). The original title of the film was to be The Order of Death. The unused music appears on the semi-official release "You are Now Entering A Commerical Zone" album. Harvel Keitel plays an early proto-type of his future "Bad Lieutenant" character in this film.
'Order Of Death' (aka 'Copkiller') is one of the most interesting movies on Harvey Keitel's early resume. Along with 'Fingers' and 'Blue Collar' it's one of his most underrated performances, and a movie that every Keitel fan should seek out. His character here - a corrupt NYC cop - is almost a practice run for his magnificent 'Bad Lieutenant'. Keitel plays Fred O'Connor a dysfunctional police officer who co-owns a secret luxury bachelor pad with his partner, bought with dirty money. The city is going through a series of cop killings and paranoia is rampant, though O'Connor doesn't really seem all that concerned at first. He becomes a little jumpy when he finds himself being stalked by a mysterious weirdo (John Lydon, yes Johnny Rotten of Sex Pistols infamy), and positively freaks out when he turns up on his doorstep claiming to be the cop killer. O'Connor doesn't believe him but is panicked all the same, as his whole secret life is at risk of being revealed, so he does the logical (?) thing - he keeps him prisoner. But this is only the beginning in a film that keeps you guessing, as mind games and battles of will ensue, with some strange identity and relationship swapping, almost worthy of legendary 70s headtrip 'Performance'. This strange film, somewhere between a hard boiled genre crime movie and an art-house puzzler, is flawed but fascinating, and should appeal to fans of Abel Ferrara and Wim Wenders, especially the latters overlooked 'The American Friend'.
A cop-killer stalks the city. Two corrupt cops, Lt. O'Connor and his
colleague Bob (Harvey Keitel and Leonard Mann), share a secret
apartment bought from confiscated drug money. O'Connor faces losing
everything when Leo Smith (John Lydon) turns up at the apartment
claiming to be the cop-killer.
Faithful adaptation of a remarkable book by Hugh Fleetwood. The book is mainly Lt. O'Connor's rant against the dangers of liberalism, opening with O'Connor buying his hated New York Times hated because he considers the perceived liberal attitude of the paper to be compassionate with everything that is "weak, sick and degenerate" in society (he explains this theory to New York Times journalist and wife of Bob Lenore.) O'Connor defends his own corruption to Bob by stating that it is "the banning of drugs" that is corrupt. This isn't really expanded on in the film. In the book, O'Connor wants drugs legalised so that the aforementioned "weak, sick and degenerate" people will be willing slaves to their addictions and won't go out and "mug an old lady or kill an old man" to feed their illegal habit. The only place that Keitel can find the order he craves is in his strange, unfurnished apartment witness his annoyance at Mann not tidying up. Keitel is utterly outraged when the deranged Leo Smith corrupts his secret refuge.
Lydon is perfectly cast, at least as regards his public image (to coin a phrase) insidious, sickly and un-American looking, "strange kind of a guy." In the book, his character is even sicker; his initial appearance is particularly disquieting as he apparently eggs Keitel on to kill him as part of a weird quasi-sexual game. In reality, Lydon was really a decent chap quitting the Sex Pistols because he refused to make a record with Ronnie Biggs (Lydon felt uncomfortable that Biggs had heisted working class money and coshed a railway employee for good measure); his morality contrasting sharply with the media's portrayal of him, at the time, as public enemy number 1. In reality, it was the British tabloid press, and particularly the Sun, who were out of step with decency the Sun, a newspaper read by the working class, which appeared to hate working class people, being, in the 80s at least, a right wing and sporadically racist paper (it's hatred of its very readership culminated in its shocking coverage of the Hillsborough football disaster).
Of course, Lydon isn't an actor and he isn't quite as good as Keitel here. The mind games they enter into (once Keitel imprisons Lydon in the apartment) are pretty interesting stuff though at turns sinister, camp and affecting a real head to head battle of wills, reminiscent of Performance. (It's peculiarly touching to see a crying, whimpering Lydon at one point.) There's a few moody shots of early 80s New York but mainly the action takes place in the apartment it's the focal point for the whole film. Here Smith acts out his obsession with the police. He's apparently read a book (written, O'Connor later finds out, by Bob's wife Lenore) which argues that the police are the real enemy of order, in that they inspire us to commit crimes so that we may be punished for them. (Lenore is played by the European Nicole Garcia, who's decidedly un-American views O'Connor finds flabbergasting.)
Also of note here is the soundtrack by Ennio Morricone. Recurring throughout is a country song based on a Tchaikovsky melody. O'Connor puts the song on his record player at the start of the film (it's an album but we never get to hear the rest of the songs) and its lyrics "It's been so long since I last felt this way" equate to scenes of O'Connor smoking expensive cigars and relaxing. We next hear the song when Bob tells him that he wants to quit the apartment ("You bought it so that you'd have something to feel guilty about"). After that, it's playing when O'Connor tortures Smith with a lit cigar and so on. It's the same song but each time it's used with progressively more desperate images. What starts out as innocuous becomes more and more sinister with O'Connor incapable of understanding what's happening to him before it's all too late.
This gritty and powerful police thriller is a classic stand-alone independent film. With good performances from Harvey Keitel (Reservoir Dogs, Bad Lieutenant) and John Lydon (former Sex Pistols frontman), Corrupt really is a one-off. As the film progresses, Leo Smith (Lydon) and Lieutenant Fred O'Connor (Keitel) engage in a vicious and engrossing psychological battle of wills in a sadistic game where they are both dependent on each other. As for the Director, Faezna's direction seems as good as any of the excellent Italian films of the day, effortlessly moving from smooth exterior compositions to the angular perfection of the prison-like apartment. BAFTA award winning Ennio Morricone reinforces this precision with an excellent score full of mechanical percussion mixed with a whispy guitar lead which underscores the foreign presence of Lydon. Music plays a very important role in Corrupt, especially the strange country music track "Tchaikovsky's Destruction" which is played throughout the entire film to emphasise the changes occurring to the characters.
'Cop Killer' (aka) 'Corrupt is a truly gritty and intense poliziotto
with the singular pairing of Harvey Keitel and the preternaturally
irritating Lydon, whose bilious persona is put to good use as amorally
bankrupt killer. This terse, claustrophobic oddity is enlivened
considerably by another quality theme by Ennio Morricone, and the
preternaturally brooding Keitel is always worth a watch.
While 'Copkiller' is somewhat flawed, it nonetheless remains a worthy entry in the by-then waning poliziotto cycle; and the sweaty interrogation sequences between Keitel and Lydon still make for compulsive viewing. With modest expectations 'Copkiller' is unlikely to disappoint, and should rate highly with obsessive euro crime fanatics.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Harvey Keitel and John Lydon go head-to-head as cop and prole in a film-long mutual torture session, and ooooh, they aren't really so different after all. It's an ancient shtick, and the production (filmed in NYC) is Italian cheese, and the jaunty c & w theme song with the sliding cadence is not only totally incongruous, it won't get out of my OR Siue's damned head two weeks later. But you know you want to see Keitel and Lydon going at it; I've already forgotten all about the love interest shenanigans and the chase scenes and Keitel murdering his partner, but I will never forget those two geniuses sneering off in that empty apartment. And Sylvia Sidney plays Lydon's grandma! These people know their audience.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
WARNING: POSSIBLE SPOILERS CONTAINED HEREIN. A nice little giallo, not a classic, but an enjoyable watch. Here we have the ultimate odd couple with Keitel and Lydon. Their interactions are very enjoyable to watch. Lydon is defiant and smiling in the face of Keitel's daddy-like abuse. I got the feeling that Keitel really hated Lydon and I can't help but wonder what went on behind the scenes of this movie. I can easily imagine Keitel getting irritated at Lydon, a non-actor, acting like a primadonna behind the scenes. This is just my fantasy, but I feel it's highly probable. The plot is pretty standard, save for the homoerotic S&M elements. It's definitely worth seeing, but don't expect much and you won't be disappointed.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Sociopathic wealthy homicidal nutcase John Lydon, who's single-handedly killing dirty narcotics officers, infiltrates the swanky townhouse of brutal, crooked New York detective Harvey Keitel and engages in twisted mindgames with him. "Corrupt" has a few things going for it: the truly inspired nihilistic pairing of the redoubtable Keitel and the infamous Lydon (a.k.a. Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols notoriety), a novel and compelling central premise, a throbbing, powerhouse score by Ennio Morricone (complete with twangy acoustic guitar riff and pulsating bass, although I could have done without that annoyingly dippy, joyous country and western song that's played incessantly on the soundtrack), and Sylvia Sidney has a nice cameo as Lydon's kindly, concerned grandmother. Unfortunately, the movie gets bogged down in a glum, talky, ponderous quagmire of murky moralizing and pretentious, pseudo-intellectual psychology. The strange, tense homo-erotic/sadomasochistic relationship between our two twisted main characters could have produced some amazing heart-racing fireworks, but Roberto Faenza's slack direction, a dry, dialogue-heavy script, and the numbingly languid pacing sink this flick (it gets off to a ripping start, but promptly runs out of gas and stalls at the thirty minute mark). However, neither Keitel nor Lydon are to blame for the film's failure to realize its potential. Keitel gives a typically potent and on-target fiery portrayal of a gritty streetwise cop: forceful, vivid, brooding and commanding, Keitel's part here neatly foretells his even more overwhelming work as the titular filthy pig in the much better "Bad Lieutenant." Although he's too puny, slightly built and baby-faced to be a totally believable psycho, Lydon nonetheless still gives a solid, earnest and fairly creepy performance. A well-meaning and not entirely worthless misfire, this half-admirable and half-aggravating effort overall qualifies as a frustratingly uneven missed opportunity.
This is a great subtext movie. There's the surface thriller elements and then there's Harvey Keitel's rough-play with John Lydon aka Johnny Rotten. The pair play out the master/slave dynamic with nasty commitment. Its not merely S&M however, its positively psychopathic in a nasty but sickly playful sense. Its a dark little vision of police power abused and quite probably all too real for some viewers and protestors out there who realise the strong arm of the law isn't disembodied from the bodies of individual policeman despite political rhetoric to the contrary. But hey, this isn't all that serious a movie. Keitel is great, Lydon is a vicious victim and it all goes by relatively quickly. John Lydon is worth the price of admission/rental/purchase alone. Enjoyably twisted.
Encouraged by the positive comments about this film on here I was
looking forward to watching this film. Bad mistake. I've seen 950+
films and this is truly one of the worst of them - it's awful in almost
every way: editing, pacing, storyline, 'acting,' soundtrack (the film's
only song - a lame country tune - is played no less than four times).
The film looks cheap and nasty and is boring in the extreme. Rarely
have I been so happy to see the end credits of a film.
The only thing that prevents me giving this a 1-score is Harvey Keitel - while this is far from his best performance he at least seems to be making a bit of an effort. One for Keitel obsessives only.
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