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Streets Of Fire Review

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When singer Ellen Aim is kidnapped by Raven, leader of the Bombers, her ex-boyfriend, soldier of fortune Tom Cody crosses town to rescue her.

★★★★★

Sub-titled ‘a rock ‘n’ roll fable’, Walter Hill’s retro action movie musical goes beyond even the stylisation of his earlier youth gang fantasy The Warriors by combining the look of the 1950s with the sounds of the 1980s and creating an enclosed, urban fantasy playground for his usual macho games.

Too much of the music dated instantly, though Ry Cooder, Stevie Nicks and Jim Steinman contribute some fine sounds, augmented by a vintage Leiber & Stoller track in ‘One Bad Stud’. However, it’s a movie that’s easy to like, with its comic book stylings (its world was an influence on Tim Burton’s Gotham City) and strutting, iconic personalities. Michael Paré has diluted his image with too many straight-to-video pictures, but he has a Shane-like presence here, striding in a trenchcoat and clenching his jaw manfully, surrounded by live wires like Rick Moranis as the heroine’s bespectacled, check-jacketed hustler manager, Amy Madigan (in a standout role) as the beer-drinking, tough-talking army chick who tags along and Willem Dafoe in PVC overalls as the shark-mouthed lunatic who leads the worst gang in the city.

Also down there in the cast are Bill Paxton as a bartender, punk rocker Lee Ving as a gang-banger, Robert Townsend (director of Hollywood Shuffle) and Mykelti Williamson as quiffed doo-woppers, early ‘80s squeaky-cutie Elizabeth Daily (later a Rugrat and a Powerpuff Girl) as ‘Baby Doll’ and Ed Begley Jr as Ben Gunn (a character tipped in from Treasure Island). In 1984, it was too way out to connect with audiences, but a few years later – with MTV in the ascendant – other films were lining up to imitate its attitudes.

Very of its time but enjoyable for all that.