A Tokyo businessman (Hiroshi Hada), transferred to L.A, molests a teenage girl on a train. It turns out that the girl is the daughter of a vice cop. But in one of those plot twists that can only occur in the movies, the cop is assigned to find the businessman's own daughter who has been kidnapped and forced into a teen prostitution ring.Written by
John Sacksteder <email@example.com>
It's been a couple days since I watched it, and I just had to let it sink in. Fans of the Bronson/Thompson pairing will know what to get (being no restrictions within a Cannon production), but for some particular reason it didn't hit home for me. Well not straight away. This is probably the pairs' most daring work (yeah more so than "The Evil That Men Do (1984)"), and fittingly the last they would make together in a technically well-made fable. What ruffled a lot of feathers when this came out was the exploitative topics at hand (child prostitution, repressed sexual desire and drug addiction), and the way they were handled and brought across. They are gruelling, stomach churning and sleazily downbeat, but never did it struck those cords with almighty, gut-busting force. The ugliness of these facets definitely creeps in, but the emotional drive while being there, feels quite thin with an uneasy and bitter underbelly taking hold.
Thompson's sufficiently polished direction (though a more raw edge to it would've been better) paints a rotten, grimy and scummy texture through heavy atmospheric vibes than anything visually punishing. Gideon Porath's leering cinematography streamlined the feature. For a Bronson film, action makes little head-way. Quite strange, but its slow going pace lets the basic premise evolve, with its two separate stories eventually interlocking with each other with a neat slice of irony and karma, which made the material not so predictable and largely authentic. However don't worry too much, as Bronson does gets his hands dirty, just the way we like it too. Serving out his 'own' unpleasant justice in few memorable sequences!
Some might say that Bronson in the latter end of his career (mainly through the 80s) made a living out of the same character and motivation. But an earnestly scathing script, helps give Bronson something interesting to work with (even a bit of western and eastern cross-culture differences plant themselves in early, and play a bigger part to story's progression) and makes for a weathered, but righteously hard-hitting performance of a multi-facet character. In support; Juan Hernandez's seedy pimp is a disturbingly slimy portrayal and James Pax's square Japanese businessman with an uncontrollable sexual urge effectively counter-punches Bronson and Hernandez's characters. None of these are clean characters, even though Bronson has the badge. He shows his insecurity, of the subject and uses it to make his actions justified. In the lesser co-starring roles is an exceptional Peggy Lipton as Bronson's wife. Perry Lopez is good in the loyal, but tired cop partner. An imposing Sy Richardson plays one of Hernandez's goons. Amy Hathaway shines as Bronson's on screen daughter and Kumiko Hayakawa impresses with a movingly gusty turn as the young kidnapped girl. As for Greg De Belles' funky music score, I found it sloppy and unsuited instead of sapping bleakness. I just wanted the musical pieces to get under my skin.
The dark, unsparing perverse tone doesn't make it enjoyable entertainment. However it really does linger on the mind, and holds a steady curiosity to it.
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