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*** 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.
Streets Of Fire is an excellent,stylish underrated film that combines
Action,Rock N'Roll,Humor,and Adventure. Although the film wasn't a box
office hit,Streets Of Fire has become a Cult Favorite over the years
and is one of Walter Hill's best films and is also one of my favorite
Set in Another Time and Another Place,Streets Of Fire tells the story of a rock star named Ellen Aim(Diane Lane)who returns to her home town the Richmond to perform a concert. While there,a gang named the bombers led by Raven Shaddock(Willem Dafoe) kidnap Ellen Aim and have captured. Ellen's ex-boyfriend and soldier Tom Cody(Michael Pare) returns to the Richmond and is hired to get Ellen back. With the help of Ellen's boyfriend/manager Billy Fish(Rick Moranis) and tough as nails McCoy(Amy Madigan),the three head into a world where Rock N'Roll is king and the only law is a loaded gun.
Streets Of Fire is a movie that's great and works so well because of the setting,characters and where style wins over substance. The setting and time period of Streets Of Fire is unique because the film gives us a timeless world mixing the 50s,60s and 80s where Rock N'Roll is dominant and all over the place,a world where your not sure what year it's in. Is it the future? Is it the past? A combination of both? Or is it somewhere in between the past and the future. That's one of the great things that makes this movie work is because we'll never know the answer to those questions. The characters in the film are well-drawn and memorable because of the dialog. The dialog is stylized,over the top and spoken with the in a tough and aggressive way that wouldn't fit in the modern world,but in the world of the 30s,40s and 50s and would also fit in the very strange,weird and surreal world that SOF sets up and shows. The Humor works well in the film because most of the dialog or lines are not always spoken in complete sentences,but with one-liners,insults and reactions. The situations and style of the film build up the humor,where you don't always see the characters smile or tell or joke,but you know in the back of the characters minds and your mind that the laughs work as the film goes along. While the film is more about style than character development,you get to know a little bit about the characters Tom Cody,Ellen Aim and McCoy,who they are,why they do the things they do and their motivations in some of the events of the film. The three characters are stylized but also human and likable. The Action and fight scenes are well done and fit in with the film's bigger than life,over the top style with thrilling gunfights,explosions and fist fights. Hill knows and breathes Action. Walter Hill has always said that every film he's made is a Western and it's evident in this film. SOF is almost a retelling of the John Ford/John Wayne classic The Searchers in which a young girl is kidnapped by Indians and the John Wayne character searches for her. The Western influence is still here with the character Tom Cody being a Clint Eastwood/John Wayne cowboy in the big city and the Bombers as Indians and Ellen Aim as the kidnapped girl. SOF doesn't have dust,dirt,horses or large stagecoaches that are often associated with the great Western genre,but you'll notice the influence with repeated viewings. The is beautiful and visually stunning to look with the neon colors,production designs and photography that just comes off the screen and hits you in the eye. The film is like a comic book coming to life and the movie brings into it's own world and makes you feel like you're in the film. Maybe the only film that I can compare with in terms of visuals,style and timelessness is the movie Sin City,but Streets Of Fire is a unique,visually stunning film on it's own and one of the reasons why I love the film so much. The ending is excellent and stylish and is filled with great Rock N'Roll brilliance that will have viewers cheering and smiling. An amazing music-packed ending.
The cast does a wonderful job in their roles. Michael Pare does a excellent job as Tom Cody,a tough guy who fights,shoots and asks questions later. Diane Lane is amazing as Ellen Aim and has great scenes with Pare. Rick Moranis is fantastic as Billy Fish,Ellen's jerk boyfriend and manager. Amy Madigan is brilliant as Tom's tough female sidekick McCoy,with Madigan saying great one-liners and not taking any crap. Willam Dafoe is terrific as villain Raven Shaddocks,leader of The Bombers. Richard Lawson does a great job as officer Ed Price,a local cop. Elizabeth Daily is wonderful in her small role as Baby Doll,a girl that's a fan of Ellen Aim. Deborah Van Valkenberg(Reva Cody),Stoney Jackson(Bird,The Sorels),Lee Ving(Greer)and Rick Rossovich(Officer Cooley)give good performances as well. Also,lookout for early roles with Bill Paxton(Clyde),Robert Townsend(Lester,The Sorels),Mikelti Williamson(B.J.,The Sorels),Grand L. Bush(Reggie,The Sorels)and Ed Begley Jr.(Ben Gunn)
The direction by Walter Hill is brilliant and stylish,with Hill always moving the camera giving the film a wonderful pace and bringing a unique visual style to the film and also does a great job with the Action and fight scenes. Amazing direction,Hill.
The score by Ry Cooder is amazing,with Cooder's score bringing Rock N'Roll,excitement and grit. Great score by Cooder. The film has a fantastic soundtrack with songs by Fire Inc.(Nowhere Fast,Tonight Is What It Mean To Be Young),Laurie Sargent(Sorcerer),The Blasters(One Bad Stud,Blue Shadows)Winston Ford(I can dream about you,Countdown To Love)and The Fixx(Deeper And Deeper). A fantastic and memorable soundtrack.
In final word,if you love Walter Hill,Action films,Musicals,Cult Films or Cult films like Big Trouble In Little China,Repo Man and The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai,I Highly suggest you check out Streets Of Fire an excellent,underrated film that you can watch again and again and is one of Walter Hill's best films. Highly Recommended. 10/10.
This great film is a fantasy that mixes all the enjoyable elements from
rock-n-roll and the old west. It is a veritable pastiche of Americana
motifs. It uses an urban setting to support it's farrago of 50s costumes and
cars, 60s and 70s motorcycles and beautiful anachronistic music. The best
was taken of disparate decades in pop culture and put together in a good
old-fashioned rescue story.
As the opening words proclaim, this is a `rock and roll fable' taking place in `another time and another place'. This is a rock fantasy in every sense of the word! Cool music, sexy girls, lawlessness, and self-destructive behavior. The story is played out in a world that while not anarchy is at least nihilistic. It is not so much a dystopia as it is a futuristic anomie. There are no elders shown in this dimension and apparently no central authority. In fact the only administration shown are glimpses of (often-corrupt) cops who function mainly as factional representatives with limited power. They are analogous to the old west lawmen trying to keep peace among rowdy outlaws. The filmmakers were adroit in not trying to explain this strange world. And it is better for viewers to simply accept it, and enjoy it.
The casting was brilliant for this film as Michael Pere is perfect as the reluctant hero Tom Cody and William Defoe is equally adept as the perverse Raven. Rick Moranis was made for his role as the indignant, offensive music-manager Fish. He also has the pleasure of delivering one of the flick's best lines as he unwillingly pays off a hobo for information, `Go buy some soap!'
By the way I think it is no coincidence that Jim Steinman (songwriter for Meatlaof) penned the opening and ending tunes. He has always espoused his love for the character Peter Pan because he stays eternally young. That is the type of thinking that obviously inspired such a movie as this.
"Lyin in the bed on a Saturday night you're sweating buckets and it's not even hot..." I catch myself so many time singing the songs from this movie in the shower. It is a low budget piece but as an aspiring film maker it is a classic story. I love it. Should so be remade. (By me!!LOL!) Diane Lane was so cute as the "rockstar" kidnapped by a vicious motorcycle gang.I loved that my idol (Robert Townsend) was in it.It wasn't Oscar material but it is an oldie but goo-die with me. A classic hero story with an amazing sound track.I think it should be in every aspiring movie maker's collection.I love it it is a great picture with great music!
This is a great example of what happens when you mix good music, a few
great stage performances, a couple of wicked fight scenes, a little
romance and a plausible gang-oriented story from the 50's. I should
know about the 50's - I was there! Shows what you can do without
resorting to excessive gore, swearing and sleaze.
Michael Pare and Wilhem Dafoe were just starting their careers and a lot was expected from them. They delivered solid performances and showed a lot of promise in this story; but, at least in Pare's case, the potential did not pan out.
Excellent supporting performances by Ric Morannis (wimp & music manager), Dianne Lane (great stage scenes)and Amy Madigan (as a young army vet, no less!) To show you how good the movie was - its main song has been re-released and is going great guns.
There are movies that are part of your life. I'm 34 years old, but when
I see this movie, I Know that the Kid in me will never leave.
Diane,you will always be in the imaginary of my generation as one of the most beautiful and sexiest women int he silver screen. This movie is a Rock story. It has all the ingredients to be a success, a simple and nice story, a hero, a terrible villain and a beautiful princess that needs rescue. Many of the actors are here in the beginning of their careers, but that doesn't affects their quality. To finish this review,i think that there aren't many movies you could say that they were seen and remembered with a smile and a warm feeling of happiness by an entire generation. I am very sorry if my written English is not very good but as you can easily see i'm not an English native speaker.
Saw this flick when I was a baby in the '80s. I dug it. I mean, I really,
REALLY dug it. So much so that I would take the time to actually plan on
watching it if I saw a commercial for it. Unfortunately, I've only seen it
on TV, with the commercials, and everybody knows commercials can kill a
movie like this. Movies like this one depends on its brisk pacing to keep it
alive, and commercials, well, just kills pacing, no matter what you're
watching. The only thing commercials doesn't kill, I think, are episodic
I've since seen this movie on cable and without commercials, and it rocks. I mean, I didn't think it could be better than it was with commercials, but damn, I was so wrong, and I've never been happier to be so wrong.
The movie itself is a fantasy. People commenting on this board keeps trying to guess it's time period. Why? Do you try to guess time periods of Star Wars? Or fantasy dungeons and dragon movies? Remember, it's a FANTASY MOVIE, and even the folks behind it says so. So why would you bother to try to date it?
It's a fun and lively movie. The music is pretty good, and actually stands up to the test of time. At least to me. The acting is not spectacular, but one has to remember that aside from Defoe, most of the cast were still newcomers. Pare, Lane, that nerd from the Honey I Shrunk movies, and a young Bill Paxton, once again doing the cowardly/annoying bit (hilarious!).
I plan on getting this movie on DVD. If it's cable life is better than it's TV life, then it's DVD life has GOTTA be even better. Can't wait.
I really shouldn't love this movie as much as I do. There's just not
much to it. It's a very simple film. It doesn't have much to it. Then
again, man, this is how an action should be. This film has the kind of
fight scenes I like with the hero and bad guy beating each other
senseless, not the you know the hero is going to win, not gritty at
all, hard to fallow, Matrix trash of today. Also, this is how a musical
should be done. Makes you want to get up and sing and dance. And what
can I say, it's got style.
The plot may be just, let's go save the old flame from the bad guys, but buddy that's all it needs.
I love it and will always love it. 10!
Hill has created a complete world here. The story takes place in a city
that is so huge a wanderer (such as Amy Madigan's or Michael Pare's
characters) can pass through a "district" the way an old west drifter
would pass through a town (not the only similarity to westerns this
movie has). One can drive all night, passing through several of these
districts, each with their own distinctive character, without finding
the end of it. There is a run-down residential area, a nightlife strip,
a spooky industrial area, even a southern style district with racist
cops! The character of these districts is expressed everywhere, from
the production design to the music to the costumes, so you can really
catch the flavor of it. I felt that the costumes especially should be
commended (hello, academy), not only because they were well produced
and looked good, but also each costume expressed the character of the
people wearing them and the district they resided in.
The main action of the movie follows the pattern of a less serious version of "The Warriors": our heroes must find their way home against great odds. They must take trains, steal cars, fight cops, and hide from their pursuers. Instead of the run-down griminess of a city on the edge of collapse, however, there is the sense of urgent vibrancy of a thriving culture.
The music was phenomenal! It's one of my favorite soundtracks of all time due to it's great range of different styles and time periods of various genres that work incredibly well together (musical cohesiveness?). You have the Broadway-esque Steinem production of Nowhere Fast and Tonight Is What It Means To Be Young. The country pop-rock flavored ballad tune It'll Never Be You. The late Dan Hartman's sadly enough only huge pop/R&B/Motown-like hit I Can Dream About You. The lyrics are astoundingly evocative and hyperbolic...yet identifiable. If you have the opportunity, I highly recommend that you pick up this album. If the two Fire, Inc. songs had been written for a stronger movie or even a play, I guarantee they would have taken off.
Overall rating: 8 out of 10.
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