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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This film is another example of Mr. Walter Hill delivering the goods
with a great story, great visuals and great action. The performances
are pretty good, although our star Michael Pare is a bit one-note. It
doesn't help that Tom Cody (his character) is a bit of a jerk at times.
But the mega-jerk award must go to Rick Moranis as the slimy Billy
Fish. He's ultimately a good guy, but he is so snide and unlikeable
that I actually said 'thank you' when Willem Dafoe's number two punches
him out. That said, Moranis proves he can be good in a straight role.
Willem Dafoe himself excels as biker king Raven. He has proved time and time again that he can be the best when he plays a bad guy (but what was with those leather dungarees?). Diane Lane and Amy Madigan are great as Ellen and McCoy respectively. The whole look of the film was great. The story seems to be taking place in some 50s/80s hybrid (classic muscle cars are all around, and yet 80s rock 'n roll blares on the soundtrack and neon-lit clubs show music videos on various monitors).
The music by Ry Cooder and songs composed by Jim Steinman, Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty are excellent. I love how the film begins and ends with the two Steinman numbers. I was a bit disappointed when I read that Diane Lane only lip-synchs in the film because the two songs, Nowhere Fast and Tonight Is What It Means To Be Young, kick ass! I liked how down-on-their-luck crooners the Sorels are hired to be Ellen's opening act at the end. They perform the soundtracks' big hit single, I Can Dream About You (performed by Dan Hartman when it was released).
The action hardly ever lets up as Cody blasts at enemy vehicles with his trusty twelve-gauge and he and Raven have a climactic final duel.
I'm glad that this film has been released on DVD in the UK, but with NO extras. I really think UK DVD customers get shafted! I wish Mr. Hill would do commentaries, because I think SOF ranks up there with THE WARRIORS as one of his best. Don't miss this one! You'll regret it!
After about 25 years, I finally watched this underrated Walter Hill film that not only had several action sequences but also a few complete musical performances that just blew my breath away. I mean, seeing Diane Lane in the opening and closing numbers were some of the most awesome scenes in this movie. By the way, that's not her singing but that of Holly Sherwood. Another singer, Laurie Sargent, also dubs her in another musical segment. Her, I remember from the video "10-9-8" with her group Face to Face, who portray Lane's group The Attackers, whenever it showed on the TBS weekend late night music video compilation show "Night Tracks" during the '80s. Anyway, Michael Pare plays the antihero lead Tom Cody who agrees to rescue former flame Ellen Aim (Ms. Lane's character) from the clutches of Raven Shaddock (Willem Dafoe) for a price. Rick Moranis-as Aim's manager Billy Fish-agrees to provide the dough while Amy Madigan-as the tough-as-nails McCoy-tags along. Along the way, we meet Cody's sister Reva (Deborah Van Valkenburgh), Clyde the Bartender (Bill Paxton), Bill Gunn-the guy who reveals where Ellen and Raven are (Ed Begley, Jr.), Greer-one of the members of Shaddock's gang: The Bombers (Lee Ving), and the musical group The Sorels of which two of those members are B.J. (Mykelti Willimson) and Lester (Robert Townsend). I'll stop there and just mention that I found the whole thing awesome with the look of the picture especially when they showed those subway trains that I actually rode on when I briefly went back to my birthtown of Chicago, Ill. as a 10-year-old kid in the summer of 1977. And most of the dialogue-courtesy of Hill and Larry Gross-just cackles with atmosphere, especially when Pare, Madigan, and especially Moranis put in their two cents as their characters. In fact, this is quite a departure for the latter as he usually is more comically nerdy compared to the more straight character he plays here though he gets some point-on wisecracks. And all the songs are just so great especially when they're written by such luminaries as Lieber & Stoller, Stevie Nicks, and Jim Steinman. And what about that score by Ry Cooder with some help by Jimmy Iovine! In summation, Streets of Fire was just such a cool movie to watch so that's a high recommendation. P.S. One of those great songs was "I Can Dream About You" which The Sorels lip-synced to Winston Ford's vocals though the single release was performed by that song's writer, Dan Hartman, who was previously known for singing on The Edgar Winter Group's "Free Ride" as well as the Disco hit, "Instant Replay". The dancer on the table at Torchie's was one Marine Jahan who the previous year was revealed to be Jennifer Beals' dance double in Flashdance. Besides knowing Moranis from "SCTV" and some other movies and Ed Begley, Jr. from "St. Elsewhere", I also recognized Deborah Van Valkenburgh from "Too Close for Comfort" and Lee Ving as the lead singer of the punk band Fear when they appeared on "Saturday Night Live". And since I just mentioned that I was born in Chicago, I also feel like noting the other players that came from there: Amy Madigan-who graduated from Marquette University which is where one of my younger sisters also finished school, Robert Townsend, and Kathy Griffin who appears as a concert goer here.
Streets of Fire is directed by Walter Hill who also co-writes the
screenplay with Larry Gross. It stars Michael Paré, Diane Lane, Rick
Moranis, Amy Madigan and Willem Dafoe. Music is scored by Ry Cooder and
cinematography is by Andrew Laszlo.
When the lead singer of Ellen Aim and the Attackers is kidnapped by biker gang The Bombers, her ex-soldier of fortune boyfriend is contacted and hired to go get her back...
There were a couple of movies released in 1984 by maverick directors that were frowned upon at the time, but are now significantly held in high regard and define the saying "cult movie". One was Alex Cox's Repo Man, the other was Walter Hill's Streets of Fire.
Streets of Fire is a bastard hybrid of ideas and influences. In part a rock opera set to the backdrop of blink blink blinkity blink neonvillle, an unnamed place that lives and breathes between 50s angst and 80s futurism, in others it's a straight forward road/mission movie headed up by an anti-hero taking notes from Snake Plissken whilst jostling for cool space with Kyle Reese. It's a film, that by Hill's own admission, is unashamedly a collage of things he finds cool in cinema. Yet this is not a detriment to the pic, the narrative is straightforward as can be and Hill throws everything he can into the mix, and it works.
In essence it's a live action comic book, it knows it's just a film and has no pretencions to seem remotely real life. The look is wonderfully flamboyant and campy, where the hero and villain wear braces and PVC overalls respectively. The girls are a mixture of a teenage diva babe and a beer swilling roughneck babe. The city itself is a vibrant mix of colours and carnage, beauty and beats, and where the streets literally are on fire. Hill weighs in with his adroit flair for action, always kinetic, while the soundtrack rocks and the dialogue bubbles with self aware glee. Cast are super, some sexy and tough, others weaselly and weak, but all pumping the pop culture blood through the veins of the movie.
With style and cool to burn, both only beaten out by the action quotient, Streets of Fire is an ode to live action fun. And watching it now you can see just how it has influenced many a film maker post its release. Streets of Fire, one bad ass bitch funky sex machine. 9/10
Enjoyable urban/modern Western combined with rock 'n roll , displaying
a satisfying and impressive directorial by Walter Hill . It is an
entertaining compendium of noisy action , rock music , a love story ,
sadistic as well as violent bikers , fights , state-of-the-art frames
and many other surprising things . A famous female rock singer called
Ellen Aim (Diane Lane) is captured by a motorcycle gang led by Raven
(Willem Dafoe) . As an embittered mercenary named Tom Cody (Michael
Pare) goes after his ex-Sweetheart who has been kidnapped by the cruel
It's a diverting action/thriller/musical with adventures , non-stop action , shootouts , breathtaking scenarios ; but also melancholy , friendship , unlovable camaraderie , emotionalism and including marvelous songs . Gorgeous scenarios set to rocking backbeat , mostly in sumptuous interiors , reflecting wonderfully the luminous spaces filled with neon lights , they are splendidly photographed by excellent cameraman Andrew Laszlo , and mainly on a soundstage . It is an enjoyable storytelling set in a mythic world that combines a futuristic feel with 1950s styles and attitudes . Impressive and evocative musical score by Ry Cooder , Hill's ordinary musician , adding catching songs . Nice acting by Michael Pare as two-fisted hero , a former boyfriend who sets out to save his ex-girlfriend , an enticing female rock star well played by Diane Lane . Stunning support cast , plenty of familiar faces such as Rick Moranis , Deborah Van Valkenburgh , Richard Lawson , Rick Rossovich , Bill Paxton , Robert Townsend , Mykelti Williamson , Elizabeth Daily , John Dennis Johnston , Stoney Jackson , Lee Ving , Peter Jason , Ed Begley Jr , among others . And special mention for Amy Madigan , a tomboy playing a tough warrior woman who helps starring to take on the nasty biker finely performed by Williem Dafoe .
This stylized retelling was very well directed by Walter Hill , a Western expert , such as he proved in ¨Will Bill¨ and ¨Long riders¨ . Hill's skillful direction is assured and firm and occasionally quite inspired . Director Walter Hill gets too much experience on western genre , thus : ¨The long riders¨ , ¨Will Bill¨ , ¨Geronimo¨, and "Broken Trail". Besides , he has directed modern westerns such as ¨Streets of fire¨ , ¨Extreme prejudice¨ and ¨Last man standing¨. His best Western called ¨Geronimo¨ was followed , by his biggest hit to date, ¨ 48 hours¨ and with a sequel¨ Another 48 hours¨ . Since then, his movies have not made huge amounts at the box-office, though the best of them ¨ Streets of fire¨ retains a certain primitive drive strangely to be found elsewhere . Rating : Better than average and well worth watching for the proficient film-making . It's a magnificent movie , and an unforgettable , unchallenged classic modern flick.
Co-writer / director Walter Hill's "rock 'n' roll fable" is well realized, visually stunning stuff with stylistic and thematic ties to his earlier movie "The Warriors". If nothing else, he and his crew create the perfect look for this wild update of 1950's B movies. A rising rock star named Ellen Aim (Diane Lane) is kidnapped by a motorcycle gang led by creepy Raven Shaddock (Willem Dafoe). Local diner owner Reva (Deborah Van Valkenburgh) appeals to her long lost brother Tom (Michael Pare), who used to date Ellen, to rescue her (although it's not necessarily just the girl that needs to be saved, but the neighbourhood in general), and he agrees to do so - as long as he gets paid. He and his motley collection of sidekicks, Ellen's nerdy but aggressive manager, Billy Fish (Rick Moranis) and his spunky new acquaintance, McCoy (Amy Madigan) team up to track Ellen down and get her back. A few key personnel help to make this a pleasure to both look at and listen to, and those are production designer John Vallone, cinematographer Andrew Laszlo, and composer Ry Cooder. The ambiance of the various sets seriously smokes, creating the perfect backdrop for this engaging bit of pulp story telling, the story definitely hearkening back to "The Warriors" as our unlikely group have to embark on a bit of a journey to get back to where they need to be. And, as others have said, while the movie is not without its dramatic moments, it never pretends to be truly serious about what it's doing. It's all in fun. The soundtrack (including such irresistible material as "One Bad Stud") is absolutely incredible, and may have the viewers bopping along to it without realizing they're doing so. The cast is very well chosen, with Pare displaying low key bad ass charisma and Dafoe investing his villain with plenty of swagger. Lane is of course just lovely, Moranis very good as a basically annoying character, and Madigan quite appealing. Tons of familiar faces turn up in supporting parts and bits: Richard Lawson, Rick Rossovich, Bill Paxton, Lee Ving, Grand L. Bush, Mykelti Williamson, Robert Townsend, Elizabeth Daily, Lynne Thigpen, Ed Begley Jr., John Dennis Johnston, Olivia Brown, Peter Jason, and Matthew Laurance. "Streets of Fire" may be one of those cases where the style matters more than the substance, but when the style works this well - right down to the scene transitions - it's hard to really complain. Eight out of 10.
Streets Of Fire is one of the most stylish and underrated films in the
1980's,great action,awesome music,and a great cast.The movie has a
1950's look,but a 1980's sound when it comes to music.This movie has
class.I remember when it came out in 1984.
The movie starts out as Ellen Aim,played beautifully by the beautiful Diane Lane(The Outsiders,The Cotton Club and My Dog Skip)who is a rock star,is abducted by a motorcycle gang called "The Bombers".The leader of the bombers,Raven Shaddock,played by Willem Dafoe(Platoon,Mississippi Burning,and White Sands)takes Ellen Aim from a concert she is performing at to their place in a bad district of the town called "The Battery"where they are at a bar called "Torchys".
Ellen Aim's former boyfriend,Tom Cody,a former soldier,played awesome by Michael Pare(The Greatest American Hero,Eddie and The Cruisers 1 and 2,and The Philadelphia Experiment)gets a letter from his sister Reva,played by Deborah Van Valenburgh(The Warriors and Too Close For Comfort),telling Tom about Ellen being kidnapped.Tom comes to town to see Reva,she explains what has happened.Tom goes to the bar to have a drink and meets McCoy,played superbly by Amy Madigan(Love Child and The Alamo Bay),she is a former soldier too.McCoy is having a drink at the bar,the bartender,Clyde,played great by Bill Paxton(Weird Science,One False Move,and Twister)gives McCoy a hard time,she punches him out.Tom meets McCoy and they talk with one another,McCoy needs a place to stay,so Tom Cody offers her a place to stay at his sister's place where he is staying.Tom tells his sister he will rescue Ellen Aim.In the morning at the restaurant,Tom meets up with Billy Fish,a very arrogant,selfish jerk,played great by Rick Moranis(Ghostbusters 1 and 2,Honey I Shunk The Kids movies and Spaceballs),Billy Fish is Ellen Aim's manager and new boyfriend.Tom want to rescue her,for $10,000,he needs Billy Fish to show him through "The Battery".McCoy wants to come along to help since she was a soldier.They all go to "The Battery" and get Ellen out of their but have to ditch the car.A fan of Ellen Aim's,played by Elizabeth Daily(Rugrats,Pee Wee's Big Adventure,and Better Off Dead)comes along.
They get new transportation on a bus with the singing group called"The Sorels".Bird,played by Stoney Jackson,Reggie,played by Grand L. Bush(Lethal Weapon 1 and 2,and Colors),Lester,played by Robert Townsend(Hollywood Shuffle),B.J.,played by Mikelti Williamson(Con Air,Species II,and Midnight Caller)are the members of "The Sorels".They all driving and run into a road block of Ardmore cops,the one Cop,Harry,played by Peter Jason(48 hours,Alien Nation and They Live)is a dirty cop,wants a payoff,but is realizing that they found what they are looking for.Tom deals with the cops,blows up their cars and gets away.Ellen gets back into town,but is mad to find out that Tom is getting money to rescue her.Tom acts like a jerk,but realizes he still loves her and Ellen loves him too.
Raven Shaddock wants Tom Cody,Tom and Raven end up fighting it out.Tom defeats Raven,"The Bombers"all leave and things are better between Tom and Ellen,even Billy Fish is a better person at the end.
I give this movie 10/10 stars and 2 thumbs up.Walter Hill did a great job at directing this movie,like he did with "The Warriors","48 Hours","Another 48 Hours",and "Red Heat".
The supporting cast is also awesome,Richard Lawson(V The Mini Series,and Poltergeist)as Officer Ed Price,Rick Rossovich(The Terminator,Top Gun,and Pacific Blue)as Officer Cooley,the late Lynne Thigpen(The District,The Warriors,and Lean On Me)as the train engineer.Lee Ving as Greer.Olivia Brown(48 Hours,Miami Vice,and Dear John)as Addie,a waitress who works with Reva at the cafe.
The songs in the film are so cool,"I Can Dream About You",by the late Dan Hartman,"Deeper and Deeper" by The Fixx,and the songs that Ellen Aim sang in the movie,the band at "Torchys"is also awesome.
This movie...it's as if the 50's and the 80's had a love child, and it
that child was William Defoe, channeling Kiefer Sutherland's David from
the Lost Boys plus Edward Cullen...and then they gave him crack. If you
thought the man was creepy before, there's a particular scene with
latex overalls and fire that just cranks it up to 11.
Great movie if you love the 80's. The visuals are awesome, a combination of 50's scenery and cars mixed with tons of neon and 80's punk dress/music. Plot is so-so the concept is straightforward but halfway through the movie it turns into a live action series of TV Tropes (which are fun, don't get me wrong, but send the plot all over the place). There are numerous scenes where the actors are clearly reading rather than performing their lines, and there's no chemistry between the male lead and his damsel in distress. But seeing Rick Moranis hamming it up as a sniveling business manager, Bill Paxton in a bit part as a wimpy barkey, Amy Madigan as a surprisingly interesting Action Girl and a young William Defoe being a creepy creeper of all creeps is more than worth it.
If you want a movie that will trigger 80's nostalgia and is a good romp to watch with a beer, this is it. If you're looking for art, you probably want something else. But this movie is what gave us the 80's hit song 'I Can Dream About You', and for that alone I give it top marks.
It is a total mystery how 'Streets of Fire' had been declared as a box office disaster at the time of its initial release. However, it is the music and action sequences from this film which keep viewers glued to their screens. This film is a complete entertainer which doesn't hesitate at all in disassociating itself from being a "mere rock and roll fable". "Streets of Fire" launched the career of débutant actor Michael Paré who is remarkable is his role as a man who would not hesitate in liberating his ex-flame from the clutches of an evil man. Hollywood director Walter Hill has made some of the best films in the realm of American cinema. They have made great deal of money and have also enabled viewers to have a nice time by watching them. Most astute viewers know about some of his best box office successes. One can easily cite the names of profitable films namely "48 hours" and "Brewster's Millions". Lastly, "Streets of Fire" needs to be seen by all viewers who would like to see a balanced yet interesting melange of action, music and songs.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Trashed by the critics, failed at the box office and hailed by a young
generation of MTV addicted fans!
It's a typical or - in retrospect - a state-of-the art film of the mid 1980s; violent, superficial and excessively stylish with something less than a minimalistic plot:
START POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT
celebrated rock singer Ellen Aim get kidnapped by gang, ex boyfriend/cynical lone wolf/paid gunslinger character going off to gangland to fight them and try to break her free.
END POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT
The film is set in a slight futuristic but yet quite familiar surrounding with a breath of a West Side Story kind of atmosphere, a time and place where law and order seems to be corrupt, broken down or absent.
"Grease" had overturned the box office charts a little less than a decade earlier, and the Happy Days 1950 nostalgia were on a re-run. The air of the 50s is quite obvious with the cars, the diners and the gangs and all.
But never the less; everything seems blown out of its proportions and somewhat out of time and place. The key here is the tag line: "A Rock & Roll Fable", suggesting equivalence with a fantasy or a fairy tale, but in hard core rock'n roll style.
If you asked me in what time it takes place, I would say about 15 minutes into the future...
According to the film critics there were too much violence and it was too nicely choreographed. Neither did they care very much for the surreal and anachronistic settings, nor the compressed (i.e. lack of) plot.
But the final nail in the coffin seems to have been the rather daring and for the genré very unusual musical concept with music video inspired segments breaking up the action, and the film critics of that time just didn't seem to get it.
The film failed horribly at the box office of course, but for the very same reasons it all worked out extremely well with the MTV generation. All that self-indulgent irony (irony => see PS at the end) suddenly fell into place, and soon enough it became a cult film in the true sense; hard to get to see but very much appreciated by a solid core of MTV addicted fans.
Some of the music is nothing less than fantastic, and the Fire Inc. speed-in-blood performance of "Nowhere Fast" with the distinctive beat/heavy baseline and build up to climax is an all time classic. In fact, it was recited in a scene in Black Cat, White Cat by Balkan/Serbian filmmaker Emir Kusturica.
Streets of Fire is one of those movies really capturing, or rather defining, the excessive and polished mannerisms of the 1980s, and it is a very good place to start if you want to explore that era.
If you like it and want more, there are some other movies you might want to check out (indifferent order):
Blade Runner - Ridley Scott
Subway - Luke Besson
Escape From New York - John Carpenter
Manhunter - Michael Mann
The Lost Boys - Joel Schumacher
Quote from A Dictionary of Modern English Usage by Henry Watson Fowler:
"Irony is a form of utterance that postulates a double audience, consisting of one party that hearing shall hear & shall not understand, & another party that, when more is meant than meets the ear, is aware both of that more & of the outsiders' incomprehension"
The plot: After his girlfriend is kidnapped, a soldier goes off to
rescue her, reluctantly assisted by one of her ex-boyfriends.
Streets of Fire is a surreal movie focused on blending together opposites: 1950s and 1980s pop culture, retro and modern style, comic books and Westerns, musicals and action movies, parody and homage, twerpy nerds and cocky soldiers. Whether it works or not is a bit of a contentious issue among audiences, but I thought it was great. If nothing else, it's creative and stylistic. If you were expecting a straightforward movie, I can understand how you might be disappointed by the kind of unfocused, manic creativity. The movie intentionally refuses to settle down on a single tone or genre. It amazes me that some people take it incredibly seriously, saying that it's unintentionally funny or that it's not a comedy. I can't even comprehend how you could think that.
If you like surreal, comic bookish movies, such as The Warriors, Buckaroo Banzai, and Big Trouble in Little China, I highly recommend you try Streets of Fire. It's definitely not for everyone, but it's deserving of its cult status, in my opinion.
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