Big-Ups Development Movie reviews The Precinct

What is The Precinct? — part three: a treasury of cop movie reviews

Lately I’ve been spending my Christmas holiday time (a.k.a. “sparse employment”, a.k.a. “between contracts”, a.k.a. “freelancing”) working on personal projects such as The Precinct and watching inspirational films/TV. Aside from having bought season one of Columbo and The Shield on DVD, I’ve also bought up thirty or forty cop movies for a dollar each from a local store having an ex-rental sale.

These have so far ranged from student-film quality with no redeeming features to, actually, really good. Watching them helps solidify ideas and a general direction for The Precinct, as well as providing excellent cliches and signifiers to steal. And I enjoy seeing how a pile of films, each with essentially the same plot, characters and look, can vary widely in quality according to the competence of the director, cinematographer, scriptwriter and actors (yes, “duh”).

Some notables:

  • Most Wanted — 1976 TV movie directed by Walter Grauman (later to direct many Murder, She Wrotes). Picked it up for its enticing box art featuring stars Robert Stack and Tom Selleck. Stack delivers his trademark Elliot Ness-isms in an otherwise tepid TV-quality murder mystery. Selleck stands around looking pretty.
  • The Super Cops — 1974 adaptation of the story of real-life NYC cops David Greenberg and Robert Hantz, directed by Gordon Parks (Shaft). This is good! Maybe better than Shaft (not the music, no).
  • SnakeEater — 1989 semi-exploitation silliness starring Lorenzo Lamas as “Soldier”, an ex-Marine cop whose sister is kidnapped by crazed, overacting hillbillies. Lamas conveys charm and intelligence at the outset but the idiocy that follows dampens his natural charisma. Reasonably amusing, but too long. Redeems itself somewhat with a fantastically shitty “love theme” over the end credits which suggests Soldier’s dark path ahead is lit only by the fire in his eyes.
  • Reasonable marks also to the French My New Partner (Le Ripoux, 1984), Police Story  (movie-length pilot episode of the ’70s cop series, starring Vic Morrow) and Cop Land, Sylvester Stallone’s worthwhile mid-’90s bid for a bit of acting challenge.
  • Perhaps best not to discuss such “attempting-to-be-funny” star vehicles as Cops And Robbersons and Loose Cannons. I’ve so far avoided the movie version of Dragnet and plan to continue doing so for now.

Running Scared (1986, Billy Crystal & Gregory Hines), Downtown (1990, Anthony Edwards & Forest Whitaker) and Collision Course (1989, Pat Morita & Jay Leno)are the picks of the bunch as far as Precinct-style action.

Downtown in particular alternates between wit, silliness and actual, honest drama (thanks to the acting of its sensitive stars, and smart editing decisions) in an entertaining and instructional way. Crystal and Hines share what they call actual, real “chemistry” in Running Scared to great effect. And Collision Course is a predictable but fun “East meets West” romp which beats Rush Hour at its own game through the use of lovable Pat “Mr. Miyagi” Morita and Jay “amazingly, much less irritating than Chris Tucker” Leno.

All three deserve a place alongside Tango & Cash, Lethal Weapon, Action Jackson, Beverly Hills Cop and Turner & Hooch in the annals of “buddy cop” movies.

Anybody got any suggestions for ’80s cop action to check out?

5 thoughts on “What is The Precinct? — part three: a treasury of cop movie reviews”

  1. Unless I missed them: The Hard Way, although that was 1991, Robocop, Assault on Precinct 13 (1976 though), Death Wish – although there’s no cops it involves goodies and baddies, and Hill Street Blues. Die Hard?

  2. The Hard Way: excellent suggestion. Haven’t seen that in a long time. Robocop is a beauty; the best B movie ever. Any movie that’s got Kurtwood Smith (the dad off “That ’70s Show”), Miguel Ferrer and Paul McCrane is an instant winner. Plus I think they all die horribly? Die Hard is of course a masterpiece.

    Haven’t seen Precinct 13 but will try to. I like the soundtrack. Hill Street Blues I haven’t seen since it was on TV. Death Wish I will look into, although if there are no superiors yelling at Charles Bronson to hand in his badge it may not exactly qualify.

  3. Dirty Harry is sticking in my craw, like fishbone. We should sit down and watch the rest. Apparently, Clint did another one soon after Dead Pool called “The Rookie”, in which he plays a Callahan-esque cop whose partners keep dying on him, so he gets Charlie Sheen as a replacement (because Charlie Don’t Die). It’s a spoof, I hear. Why haven’t I heard of this? I heart Sheen.

    Assault on Precinct 13 is no great thing, but I guess you should check it out. The recent remake is not marvelous.

    Was there ever a follow up to “No Holds Barred”?

    Your link to myspace does not work. omg lolz.

  4. I saw The Rookie when it came out. I don’t remember much except the big action setpiece where they jump a car through a building (is that The Rookie?). But Clint + Sheen = winner.

    Yes, the follow-up to No Holds Barred, greatest Hulk Hogan movie ever, was Suburban Commando, in which Rip discovers he’s a superpowered alien and becomes a bounty hunter who then comes back to Earth to help Christopher Lloyd become a better father.

    “RIP ‘EM!”

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