Tag-line: Whatever you do… don’t call the cops!
Sample dialogue: “You drive, I’ll shoot!”
When George Romero’s ‘Night of the Living Dead’ was released the distributors made an error with the film print which meant (for some crazy reason) that the film wasn’t copyrighted, entered the public domain and, when the time came around, any Tom, Dick or Harry could burn a copy onto a DVD and sell it without consequence.
Now, obviously, that never happened with ‘Blue Jean Cop’ (aka ‘Shakedown’). It’s not in the public domain. But something just as catastrophic must’ve gone down behind the scenes that meant that a film this well made, with a good budget and a cast full of well-known names (not to mention possibly the greatest trailer ever cut – see it here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qXRalGmRWdk ) should end up languishing in the bottom of bargain buckets in corner shops and all-night petrol stations up and down the country.
The copy I found is double-sided, complemented by ex-American Football star John Matuszak vehicle ‘One Man Force’ in an action double bill, implying the good people at Hollywood DVD believed this is the only way anyone could be persuaded to part with £2.99 for the flick.
‘Blue Jean Cop’ deserves better than this. It’s the simple story of Roland Dalton (Peter Weller, who the DVD case informs us was in ‘Robocop’ and ‘Robocop 2’), first seen blending a milk/orange juice/coffee/egg smoothie for breakfast to the strains of Jimi Hendrix. He’s a successful defence attorney, one week away from leaving criminal litigation and joining his girlfriend’s father’s law firm. Before that, though, he has to take care of just one last case (ain’t it always the way?) in the form of Richard Brooks, a crack dealer who shot and killed a cop in Central Park. The prosecution say it was murder, but Brooks says the dead man was a ‘Blue Jean Cop’ (an officer who robs drug dealers) and he was acting in self-defence.
Sam Elliott plays a renegade detective – introduced sleeping off the night before’s brown-bag booze binge in the cinema-cum-crack den he calls home – who day-by-day is growing more uncomfortable with the corruption he sees all around him in the department.
Together the unconventional lawyer and the plays-by-his-own-rules cop find themselves teaming up to take down an alliance of drug pushers and dirty cops led by kingpin Antonio Fargas and smarmy detective Larry Joshua (who we all know is evil before he opens his mouth because of his mullet).
This is all great fun. Things explode, cars get chased, women take their clothes off and people die in a variety of entertaining ways – my particular favourites include the bondage freak being electrocuted by his own hand-cuffs and the poor guy flying into the night on a runaway roller-coaster.
Every so often we have to check back in at the court to see how the case is going and these scenes certainly slow things down (as do the scenes focusing on Weller’s hectic love life), but Weller is always fun to watch. Everyone, in fact, does a great job, and the cast is peppered with even more familiar faces including Jude Ciccolella (24), David Proval (The Sopranos) and the almost-obligatory John C McGinley (Scrubs).
It all looks great too, with director James Glickenhaus making the most of New York’s sleaziest locations, including neon-lit brothels, rain-slick shanty towns and one nightclub where nice white college kids drink, watch snuff films and prostitute themselves for cocaine, while Huggy Bear counts his money in the back room. It’s all very well put together.
That is to say… maybe 89 minutes are well put together. For some reason that I can’t hope to comprehend, it all falls apart right at the climax. Right at one of the most pivotal moments of the film, at what should be one of the best stunts, it all collapses on its arse.
I’m not kidding about this. It really needs to be seen to be believed, but there is a single effects-heavy minute right at the very end that nearly sinks the entire film in just how shockingly, appallingly shoddy it looks.
As the villains of the piece prepare to make their getaway on a private jet bound for Costa Rica, Weller and Elliott speed onto the runway in a red Porsche convertible, top down. In a sequence that deserves its place in the Hall of 80’s Action Movie Legend, the Porsche races after the jet and, just as it begins to take off, Elliott leaps out and grabs onto the landing gear. So far, everything’s shot for real, exciting as hell and looking good, good, good.
Then… BAD! BAD! BAD! And suddenly Sam Elliot is dangling from a fake wheel in a studio somewhere as New York bounces around on a rear-projector behind him. As if that weren’t bad enough, we then cut to some cut-and-paste hack job that sees the jet awkwardly winging its way towards the North Tower of the World Trade Centre and narrowly avoiding a collision – a shot now cringe-inducing thanks to certain historical events, as well as because of how lousy it looks.
And yet, as laugh-out-loud mind-bogglingly awful as those few seconds are, they are not enough to ruin this film for me and they shouldn’t be for you.
This is the film where Sam Elliott rides a motorcycle while Peter Weller fires a .45 hand-cannon from the back seat. That’s always going to be worth at least £2.99.
Good movie, bad movie or beer movie: Good movie