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Butch "Bullet" Stein is a Jewish junkie from the mean streets of Brooklyn, is paroled after eight years in prison. Butch rips off a runner for local drug dealer, Tank, and is soon right back into his old habits of snorting coke and shooting up heroin with his best friend Lester. Enraged by Butch's affront and already determined to get revenge on him for a past wrong, Tank sets about getting even with his old enemy by hiring a hulking brute, Gates to beat Butch. When the confrontation occurs, however, Gates breaks his hand on the battle-hardened Butch. Besides Lester, the only people in Butch's corner are his two brothers, the mentally-unhinged Vietnam War veteran Louis and aspiring artist Ruby, neither of whom can be counted on to help him in the inevitable showdown. Written by
This film has a feel of a home movie mixed with real actors. It's hard to explain. Nothing is hollywoodized as far as being over the top, yet the characters are "professional" as in comfortable in front of the camera. They are almost stylized.
Back to the realism. The family here is so real they feel like they could be neighbors. However there is an added component of the family being Jewish, and honestly, this is the first time I remember seeing a Jewish family being portrayed in middle-class, "street" style (if anyone has suggestions for other examples, email me).
By the time it's over you feel like you know the characters, or that you've met people exactly like them if you've ever lived in a moderate to large sized city. Mickey Rourke as Bullet is great, as usual. It's almost as if this role were made for him. I see him as a tragic, heroic figure, fighting against the demon heroin. His kid brother is Adrien Brody, a talented artist and headed down the same path as his brother if he's not careful. There's the 3rd brother, played by Ted Levine, who isn't quite right after coming back from the war. You will feel affection for this man before the end credits. There's the mom and dad, who could be anyone's mom and dad (watch it and you'll see what I mean). A real standout in the film is Bullet's sidekick, John Enos III. In 1996 when this movie was made let's just say Enos was a perfect specimen of the male form. YUM. (Mickey was, likewise, in *excellent* shape!) Not only is Enos gorgeous, but he plays the faithful buddy who is also very wrapped up in his looks role well. Tupac, as Tank, the villain, isn't the greatest actor but he does OK. His clothes and his style are noteworthy. A couple of the gang members have screen presence, including Pudgy and Bullet's old pal who is now one of the white guy gang leaders.
There's a day-to-day sort of realness in the plot. It shows probably a week in the life of the characters. Some disturbing images of abandoned buildings-turned-heroin houses (not sure if they are called that, but if you know what a crackhouse is like, it's the same thing but with heroin. who knows maybe heroin houses are the forerunners to crackhouses and I just don't know it.) Lots of sad junkies doing their various things (shooting up, giving blowjobs for drugs, buying, selling, ODing.) Weaknesses in the film have less to do with the plot and the actors as it does with what seems to be sh*tty editing. That's a shame too, as Bullet (1996) has many elements that could have turned it into a classic.
I decided to watch Bullet for 2 reasons: 1) Mickey Rourke; and 2) it was going to be on HBO at a time when I was looking for a movie to watch. I was glad I watched it. I'll watch it again too. Give it a chance and see what you think of it.
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