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1986's much-troubled Heat is pretty much the moment Burt Reynolds
stopped being a star. Despite making barely a handful of decent movies,
for much of the 70s he was the biggest star in America (but not in the
world due to his reluctance to fly abroad to promote his movies), but
by the 80s a combination of too many bad choices and too much bad
publicity not least the rumors he was dying of AIDs after his severe
weight loss after a jaw injury on City Heat had him edging closer and
closer to the straight-to-video bin. On paper a William Goldman script
directed by Robert Altman seemed a good idea. It didn't work out that
way. Altman managed to get out of his contract before shooting after
vicious arguments with producer Elliot Kastner only for Reynolds and
replacement director Dick Richards to come to blows literally, with
Reynolds knocking him unconscious. Not an uncommon event on Richards'
sets, allegedly, and such was the director's popularity with the crew
that they drew a chalk outline around his unconscious body, but the
star hit him a little TOO hard, damaging his eyesight and leading to
costly legal action. The film ended up being completed by Jerry
Jameson, no stranger to jumping on sinking ships after taking over
Raise the Titanic after Stanley Kramer walked. The film opened first in
France several months before a disastrous US release with a happier
ending, while overseas distributors Cannon released the film to video.
Ever since it's been particularly difficult to find.
It has to be said that it's no great shakes, though by Reynolds' standards it's not bad. The plot's fairly simple: bodyguard and gambling addict Nick Escalante dreams of leaving Las Vegas only to fall foul of the heir apparent to an out-of-town mob when he helps a girl he brutally beat up take her revenge on him. Yet there's a lot less action than you might expect from the synopsis only three scenes, in fact, and only one where he gets to display his mastery of the improvised Edged Weapons that gave Goldman's source novel its original title. Instead it's generally more of a character piece, with much of the running time devoted to his interaction with software millionaire Peter McNicol, who wants to learn how to be a tough guy and who gradually sees beneath Escalante's armor. There are echoes of his cop from Hustle in Reynolds' character: instead of Paris, he dreams of escaping to Venice but is too far gone with Vegas fever to leave. Even when he wins enough money to leave, he can't resist gambling it all away (it's tempting to think that this is what originally appealed to Altman: the Vegas on show here is a slightly sleazy circle of Hell where winning brings only emptiness but which no-one really wants to leave). It does go some way to stretching his range with an intriguing opening sequence where he displays such a convincingly malicious redneck side to his persona that it's a shame he never really got a proper bad guy role in a decent film, while his first verbal confrontation with the undersized mobster is strikingly well written and performed.
Overall it's hard to make much of an argument for it being a lost or overlooked classic, but it's certainly much more interesting than most of the films that ushered in the straight-to-video era of its star's career. Platinum's Region 1 DVD offers a decent fullframe transfer of the US version complete with that unconvincing happier ending but no extras.
I used to be a 21 dealer in Nevada and "Heat" is one of the best films about the gambling mentality. Very realistic. Karen Young's performance was great. Reynolds in one of his better roles and Peter MacNichol offers indications of things to come. I rate it a 7.
The beginning of this movie I thought it was a horror film, a shot following a bloody woman to the ER. This is a cheat as Roger Ebert puts it and misleads us. However that set-up with the beat up girl is incredibul...its very interesting how the director chooses to take revenge on the people who beat up the girl...HOWEVER I have seen over a million movies in my day believe me and this is by far the worst ending I have ever seen. EVER. After seeing the movie I was not mad I spent 2hrs watching it because the early action scenes were very good and showing the star with a gambling problem very unique. We all know what happens to people with gambling problems and you see in the movie. However this is a very small subplot and does not get expanded in the least...very weak. There are so many things this movie could have been. And about the HORRIBLE ending I would never give it away even thou I belive it to be the worst anti-climax ending ever it is sooooooooo uniqie I dont believe any movie ever made has done it and for good reason. A million more movies can come out in the next 20 years none will end like this come on...YOUR LEADING UP TO THE FINAL BATTLE WITH a guy who has been in vietnam and is considered to be one of the deadliest men in the world and they don't even fight...you have to see what happens...wow...I can't take it. This is the longest review I have ever written on this site and I just can't get over how good this movie could have been. A dam shame...6.8 out of 10 but a definite viewing for any gamblerholic or lover of offbeat cinema.
Even though it came out a few months earlier, this great Burt Reynold's
obscurity, "Heat," could have easily been a sequel to his other great
80s obscurity, "Malone." Once you changed a couple of small plot points
to make the films consistent, you'd still have exactly the same
character at the center of each. Burt acts the same, looks the same,
dresses the same, and his character in Heat has a very similar
background and the exact same skills as the one on "Malone." In fact,
the two films even share some of the same lines of dialog (almost). In
"Malone" the young girl tells Burt's character that he must like
violence. Burt replies that "No, I'm just good at it--there's a
difference." In "Heat" Peter McNichol asks Burt if he's a naturally
violent person. To which Burt replies "No, I'm just good at it." I
mean, really--could that be a total coincidence?
Another similarity--"Malone" was basically a old fashioned Western in the "Shane" mode. "Heat" is basically a Spaghetti Western in the revenge mode.
I love both of these flicks and wish they'd get decent DVD releases.
One of Burt Reynold's best performances. Having said that, the movie has some definite shortcomings. Mex's dreams of Venice seem awfully thin. The part where he interacts with MacNichols is much better than the Mafia stuff that the film degenerates into. All in all, however, a much better film than you'd think. (for all its obscurity)
When Burt's run finaly ended it was with this movie. The tough guy part did not sell well. This movie had no script, believability, or good characters. In the end, Burt did not evolve with the 80's. The 70's where his decade. It was time for Sly and Arnold. One can see the same events unfold with Arnold's last movie Colaterial Damage. It was time for somthing new. 4/10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Nick "Mex" Escalante (Reynolds) is a Las Vegas-based gambler and
bodyguard that kind of just drifts through life, going from adventure
to adventure - whether it be getting revenge for the rape of his friend
Holly (Young) or teaching new acquaintance Cyrus Kinnick (MacNicol) how
to defend himself. He just wants to scrape together enough money to
move to Venice, but all of his enemies, especially his latest one,
Danny DeMarco (Barry) - want to prevent this from happening.
This was the beginning of Burt's "Not Caring" period. Probably due to circumstances in his personal life, what was probably perceived at the time as just a droll performance, is actually how Burt carried out most of his work from here on in. This movie not only has a slow pace and is talky when there should be action, it seems less like an action movie and more of a rambling drama. The fact that Robert Altman was originally slated to direct makes a lot of sense.
The few action scenes there are happen to be absolutely priceless - they're very funny. But their humor, whether intentional or not, does not match the tone of the rest of the film. In between the action bits, there are long stretches where, boringly, nothing really goes on. What a wasted opportunity. The DeMarco crime family should have sent more goons after Burt and he can dispatch them in his own inimitable way. But no, it's him and Peter MacNicol talking about life. Can't they do that on their own time? There isn't even one car chase for crying out loud.
On the positive side, there is a lot of pre-political correctness dialogue, and the soundtrack is drenched in classic sax (just like the Wings Hauser Las Vegas movie Living To Die, 1990). And, of course, Howard Hesseman is involved. And if you can't get enough of the magnetism of Burt Reynolds (not caring), Heat should satisfy that need. Keep in mind this was the BEGINNING of his Not Caring period. Compared to later outings, he still had a little bit of "care" left in him.
Heat is not exactly a must see, but in the action sequences, we actually rewound a few parts. So if you find it cheap somewhere (very cheap) get it. Otherwise, eh.
For more action insanity, please visit: comeuppancereviews.com
"Heat" is an exceptional, vigorous and agile film, that counts with an efficient cast and a brilliant and structured story in a correct way. In this world where everybody looks for pleasures without limits, Nick Escaliente (magnificently interpreted by Burt Reynolds), a veteran combatant from Vietnam, specialist in martial arts, tries to win a lot of money in the casinos of Nevada. In his side, there are two inseparable friends, a boy (Peter MacNicol, also excellent and funny) and a prostitute. When his friend is murdered, Escaliente decides to show all his ferocity and his know-how in the martial arts, and to kill the mafioso ones. Reynolds is brilliant, and at the same time frightening as a man who carries inside of him a lot of hate and he riots and he is always ready to explode!the sequences where he avenges the friends' death and he beats to the end his enemies is of a violence and explicit plasticity. The director doesn't lose the control of the plot, and it drives the intrigue with a surgical precision, showing that the distance between the exaggerated violence and the happiness is short and fragile. I affirm that "Heat" is a "current" western, because the story happens in a dangerous and lawless Las Vegas, where the smallest negligence can mean the end!and "Heat" portrays this city with fidelity and professionalism, offering a plausible, pleasant and unforgettable show!this film really needs to be seen, appreciated and applauded!Burt Reynolds respects, as always, his fans, and he offers his more common acting: the solitary man, tough, charming, cynic and extremely lethal, who is always in the limit. The film seems to have been done in the measure for the star, and it still reaches its objective, guaranteed a hallucinating, explosive and touching day in Las Vegas!rent it, and you will understand why!!!
I found this movie in a drunken stupor in the cheap movie bin at Wal Mart, and being the Burt Reynolds fan that I am, I picked it up. What that DVD case contained was one of the most ridiculous ever. Burt Reynolds break's a dude's leg by kicking him, slashes another guy's face with a credit card...and that's just the start of all the fun! AT the end of the film, he pushes a wall over on a bad guy, inpales on with a medal rod onto a circuit board, electrocuting him...then the best one of the film...he throws gasoline all over some poor shmuck, then Burt proceeds to jump 30 feet in the air, kick out a light bulb, which sets the gas-soaked man ablaze. Oh yeah, he also uses his the Force to pick up a butter knife when startled by the guy from Ghostbusters 2. COnfused yet? Hope so. This movie will make ya that way, so be prepared, young ones. I give this movie my best rating possible---5 bong hits out of 5!!!
Stoic chaperon and bodyguard Burt Reynolds (as Nick "Mex" Escalante)
wants to leave Las Vegas and retire in Venice - but he always gambles
his savings away. When he meets computer software millionaire Peter
MacNicol (as Cyrus Kinnick), Mr. Reynolds could be on his way to the
watery city. First, Reynolds has to deal with boyish gangster Neill
Barry (as Danny DeMarco). The well-connected little man roughed up
Reynolds' call-girl friend Karen Young (as Holly) during a sexual
encounter. Reynolds got even, but it doesn't end there...
The opening of "Heat" grabs your attention, but there is some unnecessary confusion because the two women look similar; it seemed like they were cross-cutting present with recent past, making Reynolds' "Mex" look like the perpetrator. Moreover, Reynolds seems uncharacteristically humorless and angry throughout this film. The aforementioned supporting cast is great, with Wendell Burton (as Osgood) and Deborah Rush (as D. D.) notable in small roles (was expecting Mr. Burton to pull off Burt's hair in return). Too bad their efforts are wasted.
***** Heat (11/12/86) Dick Richards ~ Burt Reynolds, Peter MacNicol, Neill Barry, Karen Young
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