Retro Review: Streets of Fire (1984)
Style over substance in this lost 80’s classic (sorta) as it’s story, basic in nature but spun in a wondrous way pays homage to many genres and tropes in many different mediums. There’s really nothing original in this film plot wise but it truly thrives in film maker Walter Hill’s visual style and imagination. The plot goes as such; The big bad leader (Willem Defoe) of the most fearful gang in the land kidnaps the queen of pop and toast of the town Ellen Aim. (Diane Lane) This motivates the broken down, bad ass solider Tom Cody (Micheal Pare) to get his gun and go get her back. It’s like a rock and roll Western taking place in the universe that hosts “The Warriors”
Walter Hill crafts an interesting environment to play out this story and it feels like all your favorite side scrolling beat em up video games comes to life. Hot cars, coffee shops, saloon bars, theater marquees, smart ass rock and roll managers, a metropolitan city cut up into districts, costume coordinated gangs, old classic muscle cars, steam and smoke pouring out of every corner of every frame. That seems to be the main concern with the writers, world building, even at the expensive of dialog which at one point the characters are just having conversations in one-liners.
As cliche and overly 80’s guilty pleasure as the music is I actually enjoyed the soundtrack to this film, something that I admit is strong armed onto the audience but that’s really the point of this flick. Given the amount of contrived and awful 3D musical flicks and unimaginative actions flicks polluting the theaters currently, you will cringe if you picture what this movie would be like were ever remade. (Just don’t) The film is book ended with two concert sequences that I found quite good, enhanced by how hot Diane Lane is in this movie.
Bottom line; I can see why people didn’t really enjoy this movie when it first hit theaters in 1984 and I can imagine people reading my review and watching the movie and telling me I’m full of shit. It’s not well written, the acting isn’t anything worth writing about, there’s a decent amount of cheesy 80’s schlock and over indulgence, but that’s really the charm and point of the film. Your enjoyment will really derive from nostalgia and visual candy. Streets of Fire has a distinct mood and look that only exsists in our imagination or a video game and that was enough for me.