I remember this coming out, way back in 1988, and the thing I remember the most about it was the title song by Ice-T, a catchy song.

Back in the day this was a controversial film because of the subject matter. It is of course about gang violence and the cops trying to stop it. These days it seems quite tame as there are no extreme violence scenes where peoples heads are exploded by gunshots, or innocent bystanders are wasted by a psycho-drugged-up Crip or Blood gang member. It was more about the story back then, and great acting.

And the acting is probably the best thing about this film, both Robert Duvall and Sean Penn are both great. The supporting cast including Don Cheadle, María Conchita Alonso, and a one-scene one-line appearance by Jack Nance, are good but not as great (except Nance of course).

The producer hired actual gang members during filming to act as guardians, and two were apparently shot.

Dennis Hopper directed, his first film as director since Easy Rider. He shot many scenes in actual Blood or Crip areas using either Bloods or Crips as extras depending on where he was filming.

Sean Penn got a bit miffed at an extra taking photos of him without permission and gave him a good punching…33 days in prison for him.

The guy on the right in this image amused me. Not only did he look out of place in a Chicano gang, but he also basically took on this pose in almost every scene. A later scene kind of explained later on why he looked like this (he was drugged out of his mind), but it was weird nonetheless.

This is described as a “police procedural” on Wikipedia which it is I suppose, but not as procedural as those of the 1950’s. The story was pretty standard stuff actually. It followed Duvall and Penn who grudgingly become buddies, and together they set about finding out who blew a gang member away in a drive-by shooting (Don Cheadle did it!). It had all of the usual police, gang, love-interest, and car-chase tropes we expect from a police/gang story. But, I guess it portrayed the gang culture of the time well, but I wouldn’t really know.

I would not say this is an essential watch, not these days anyway, and if it wasn’t for Duvall’s and Penn’s acting skills, and Ice-T ‘s nice song, it would not rate as well.

Date watched: February 3rd
Score: 7.5/10
Film count 2018: 9

My Science Project

I thought it was time to watch something in colour again, and made at least in the 1980’s, so I chose this 1985 film on YouTube.

The story involved a high school student (played by a 24 year old) about to flunk his science class and thus not be able to graduate. His teacher (played by Dennis Hopper) told him he needed to make a good science project to pass. So, he goes off to an old air force base to rustle up something to use as a science project. He comes across an alien device that was part of an alien ship that crashed in a flashback at the start of the film. It turns out this device is a time-warp gizmo, which causes all kinds of trouble.

Unfortunately, this was a bit of a jumbled mess with some scenes not making sense. The writers and director didn’t spend much time on making a coherent story, and instead tried to focus on thrills and lame jokes. Some of the jokes were very un-PC by today’s standards, especially those involving the main characters’s wise-cracking best friend.

The acting was acceptable, very 1980’s. Poor Dennis Hopper was typecast as an ex-hippy science teacher who has a strong dislike for the cops. He was doing his best though. The rest of the cast are relative unknowns, although Fisher Stevens is a familiar face.

This isn’t worth watching at all really. I wouldn’t say it is a complete disaster, but you would be better off watching Back to the Future or Weird Science (both came out in 1985 also).

The song over the end credits is probably the highlight of the film, really eighties.

Date watched: December 14th
Score: 3/10
Film count 2016: 195