Walter Hill's Streets of Fire Review

When it was announced that Shout! Factory would be releasing this on blu ray recently, it renewed my interest in wanting to finally revisit it. I honestly didn't remember hardly anything about it, other than it's cast and that Walter Hill wrote (along with Larry Gross) and directed it, and I love me some old school Walter Hill. But I also came across the soundtrack on vinyl recently, and I have to admit it was pretty damn good. So I was enthusiastic and excited going in.

I enjoyed Streets of Fire, but I didn't love it. It has a lot of great production value, with Walter Hill really giving the film a fantastic 50's era look and feel, but to be honest, aside from the opening and ending, not a lot happens for large chunks in the middle. And that's really what surprised me the most, for a film that's I assumed would be a musical, really only has 2 moments in the film that would be considered musical numbers, and it's these 2 moments in the film that I loved the most. Weird! As I'm not big on musicals in general, I was pleasantly surprised that the 2 numbers in the film that bookend the film were the parts I enjoyed the most. This is largely due to the fact that the songs are really good and really strong, combined with Diane Lane's outstanding performance as the female rocker (this girl can really move and sell the fact that she's up there giving it her all) and the tight slick editing, these musical numbers are arguably the strongest and best moments in the film.

But interestingly enough, there are only a few minor moments like a fist fight inside a cafe, a sequence where Michael Pare shoots a bunch of motorcycles in an alley as they ride up and down, and the fist fight between Michael Pare and Willam Dafoe at the end, I can't say I was very entertained in the action department. Not that I was expecting this to be an action film, but I kind of feel that it was sorely missing some important elements in that area to really give it a little punch of excitement or maybe even some solid tension or thriller elements. Still, it wasn't a bad film, just not a terribly exciting or entertaining one, and I really felt that it could have been. I mean, there's an amazing variety of talent in here, from the production design, the ensemble cast and Tough Guy Cinema vibe, to it's searing soundtrack incorporating rock n' roll and R & B and Diane Lane's electrifying performance when she's on stage. There's really just so much to like in here, but I didn't feel it fully reached it's potential. I mean, Dafoe is an amazing villain in here, but he's surprisingly absent for large chunks, and it's a shame too, because he's just such an interesting looking character.

I'm glad I revisited it, but I'm also glad I didn't pull the trigger on that new blu ray, though I will admit that the picture quality would have been an amazing improvement over the old DVD. I feel Walter Hill had some amazing idea's and the right vision, but there was just something missing keeping it from being a total badass. Whatever that ingredient can be is debatable, I personally feel it needed some more tension and action and less drama and romance, but that's just my taste. Still an entertaining and slick looking film, so it's definitely worth your time should you choose to revisit this one.

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