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Don Michael Paul
Brooklyn cop Gino Felino is about to go outside and play catch with his son Tony when he receives a phone call alerting him that his best friend Bobby Lupo has been shot dead in broad daylight on 18th Avenue in front of his wife Laurie Lupo and his two kids by drug kingpin Richie Madano, who has been Gino and Bobby's enemy since childhood. As Gino is hunting Madano down, Gino discovers the motive behind Bobby's murder. This is when Gino's hunt for Madano leads to the showdown of a lifetime. Written by
Todd Baldridge <email@example.com>
Good martial arts almost make up for bad plotting, dialogue, acting and delivery
Detective Gino Felino is a tough officer in the NYPD Narcotics unit he is very big on justice and finds even a $3million drugs bust is not enough to stop him taking the time to beat up a cruel pimp. When his friend and partner, Bobby, is murdered in front of his wife and daughter by a drugged up wannabe mobster Richie Madano, Gino takes on his own investigation. Given an unmarked police car and a shotgun by his Captain, Gino goes 'out for justice' in Brooklyn seeking to bring Richie in by any means necessary, even if it means putting him and many of his men in body bags to do it
Steven Seagal films have always been the same and will always be the same the only thing that seems to change is the dating of the film (music, co-stars, setting etc) and the man himself. Here we have a film that does just what many of his films do pit him against a series of bad guys as he tries to right a wrong (in this case avenge a friend). So basically, if you like Seagal then it is likely that, for all their weaknesses in terms of plotting and production values, you will enjoy his early films more than his modern ones simply because the man himself is much more impressive here than he has been for years. In terms of martial arts skill he is very lean and fast, producing action scenes that lack expensive special effects but feature bone crunching moves and solid skill from Seagal (even if the bad guys help him by coming at him one or two at a time even when there's 15 of them!).
Of course in terms of plot, character and dialogue this is mostly rubbish, but very few viewers will have come to this film expecting it to be strong in these areas. The plot is not about justice it is revenge and the film never gives this any airtime at all, focusing on bad guys being kicked instead; but when he takes a shotgun and goes out on his own the film leaves you in no doubt that he is more a vigilante with a badge than a cop who is after justice punishment and beatings are not justice! The plot is no more than a series of fights as Gino hunts down Richie and the dialogue is very little more than some sermonising, tough talk and lots of 'where's Richie' being mumbled in a pretty forced Italian/Brooklyn accent the occasional bit of bad ADR doesn't help either. It has the occasional good idea but doesn't do much with them as it is more interested in getting to the punch (literally). Production values are not low but they don't compare to his bigger budget things, but 'Brooklyn' looks OK and the film is never set-bound but the music has dated badly and it never feels like it cost very much.
The cast is surprisingly full thanks to plenty of good fortune in the process. Needless to say Seagal is poor when he isn't punching people: his forced accent is pretty poor and he can't make his character anymore than a two-dimensional 'angry cop' cliché. It's not all his fault, his character is lumbered with having to try and be a 'good cop' who just happens to be really friendly with all the local mobsters (except the ones that use drugs oh, they are the bad ones!) and creates a character that seems to change totally whenever the script demands it. A chubby Forsythe can't do anything other than overact as a villain that has to be extra-bad so that he stands out as not just being another mobster he is OK for this sort of material but if you look closely at his hands you'll see that those are not gold rings but actually pineapple rings! The support cast is a mix of well known faces in minor roles some were famous before this film but many others have become famous since, giving the film added interest. The support includes Jerry Orbach, Gina Gershon, Julianna Marguiles (ER), Dominic Chianese (Sopranos) and a very hard to spot early role for John Leguizamo (but don't worry, he gets punched and shot!).
Overall this is not a good film but it does have plenty of good action and is proof that, for all his limitations and recent failures, Seagal was once a good martial artist and he shows it here. The fights are good and almost make up the weak acting, poorly developed plot, average dialogue and low budget but, to be honest, if you're not a fan of Seagal then there isn't a great deal here for you.
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