5.9/10
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59 user 42 critic

Kiss of Death (1995)

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2:47 | Trailer

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A reformed convict goes undercover with the help of an angry detective to ensnare a psychotic mobster.

Director:

Barbet Schroeder

Writers:

Eleazar Lipsky (story), Ben Hecht | 2 more credits »
Reviews
1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
David Caruso ... Jimmy Kilmartin
Samuel L. Jackson ... Calvin Hart
Nicolas Cage ... Little Junior Brown
Helen Hunt ... Bev Kilmartin
Kathryn Erbe ... Rosie Kilmartin
Stanley Tucci ... Frank Zioli
Michael Rapaport ... Ronnie Gannon
Ving Rhames ... Omar
Philip Baker Hall ... Big Junior Brown
Anthony Heald ... Jack Gold
Angel David ... J.J.
John Costelloe ... Cleary
Lindsay J. Wrinn Lindsay J. Wrinn ... Corinna as a Toddler
Megan L. Wrinn Megan L. Wrinn ... Corinna as a Toddler
Katie Sagona ... Corinna, 4 Years Old
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Storyline

Jimmy Kilmartin's an ex-con who's trying to go straight. But he can't say no to a quick driving job because his so called friend's life is threatened. The job is for Little Junior Brown, a violent and powerful villain. When things go wrong, Jimmy is left to do the time, and his whole life is turned upside-down, but if that wasn't enough, the cops won't leave Jimmy alone when he gets out... They want 'Little Junior' Written by Rob Hartill, corrected by Lex Gustafsson

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Little Junior Brown. He rules the streets. He owns the game. But he doesn't own all of the players.

Genres:

Action | Crime | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violence, nudity and strong language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

21 April 1995 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A halál csókja See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$40,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$14,942,422
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Nicolas Cage and David Caruso share the same birthday (January 7th). See more »

Goofs

The item of jewelry on Little Junior's wrist alternates between a gold watch and a gold chain bracelet, sometimes during the same scene. See more »

Quotes

Jimmy Kilmartin: What are you doing? What are you fuckin' doing?
Little Junior Brown: What do you wanna know about the guy for? Huh?
Jimmy Kilmartin: What guy?
Little Junior Brown: Huh?
Jimmy Kilmartin: What fucking guy?
Jimmy Kilmartin: [after being patted down by Junior] I just did 3 years for...
[pats Jimmy again]
Jimmy Kilmartin: I did 3 years for you, you paranoid motherfucker. Full time, not a day less. For you!
Little Junior Brown: What do you wanna know about the guy for?
Jimmy Kilmartin: J.J. pointed him out to me like 2 minutes before you sat down. If he's got a big fuckin' mouth, take it up with him. I was trying to make a conversation.
[...]
See more »


Soundtracks

La Copa Rota
Written by Benito De Jesus
Performed by Alci Acosta
Courtesy of Codiscos
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User Reviews

So-so thriller
31 October 2001 | by FilmFlaneurSee all my reviews

Kiss of Death

A loose remake of the classic 1947 film noir, this version boasts an impressive cast: Nicolas Cage, Samuel L. Jackson, Helen Hunt, Ving Rhames, Stanley Tucci as well as the underrated David Caruso. As Kilmartin's first wife Bev, Helen Hunt is particularly good, and one feels the film loses intensity when her character shortly disappears. Unfortunately the presence of all this talent doesn't make this film anything more than a commercially entertaining 90 minutes or so. Schroeder sacrifices many of the strengths of the original production to create a thriller with a much more contemporary impact, but average results. Whereas Hathaway's film was praised at the time for its documentary feel, Schroeder's location work remains fairly anonymous, excepting the impressive crane and tracking shot through the junkyard over which the opening credits are played out. At the heart of the film is the character of Kilmartin. Dragged back into the underworld and danger by the call of an imagined debt, his journey is a gradual one from a position of weakness and entrapment to that of strength and liberation. As he says later to Junior,"whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger" - hardly original philosophy, but his growing assertiveness confirms the truth of this inspiration. Kilmartin has to overcome in turn his injuries, his imprisonment, his wife's crash, betrayal and his own fear before he finds his feet again. His adventures become a means to recover his self-respect, to regain personal equilibrium, a result only achieved in the final scene.

While Caruso fittingly provides the most complex and understated performance in the film, the opposite is true of Cage, who plays the asthmatic and hulking Junior - a psychopathic thug with a bizarre aversion to eating with metal cutlery. Junior says that he has taken 'Balls, Attitude, Direction' as his personal acronym (a somewhat laboured plot point when it reappears later on the forehead of Kilmartin's kidnapped daughter and then his front door). BAD is too strong an assessment of Cage's uncontrolled performance, which remains entertaining and memorable, but he has been better. His casual 'press-ups' with the dancer for instance, his ritualistic slaughter of Kilmartin's cousin, or his asthma spray (which at times recalls Frank's oxygen mask tripping in Blue Velvet), remain in the mind long after the rest of the plot has been forgotten. Kilmartin's nervousness when he next meets Junior, and the edgy scenes which follow between the two, are among the better things in the film, mainly due to the psychotic traits Cage gives his character and the resulting tension.

Calvin, played here by the excellent Samuel L. Jackson, has little to do. Excluded from Kilmartin's final plans except for his timely arrival to arrest Junior, he grows increasingly redundant. The original gravitas, accompanying his character's internalised rage, evaporates through the plot's meanderings. Significantly, although present, he is largely excluded in detail from the subplot concerning the ambitious DA (Tucci). Having said that, Calvin's weeping eye is an excellent touch, its false tears reflecting his bitterness after the shooting. But still we long to see him in more extended interaction with the persecuted hero. Instead he is largely wasted, a symbol of many of this film's missed opportunities.

Those looking for a reasonably exciting thriller will enjoy this sufficiently to make it worth their while. Those wanting to see the real thing, albeit somewhat different in detail, will be advised to seek out giggling Richard Widmark and fraught Victor Mature in the atmospheric original.


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