Streets of Fire (1984)

Streets of Fire (1984)

“It looks like I finally found someone who likes to play as rough as I do.”

When rock star Ellen Aim (Diane Lane) is kidnapped by the ruthless leader (Willem Dafoe) of a motorcycle gang, her ex-boyfriend (Michael Pare) and a female soldier (Amy Madigan) are hired to rescue her.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Diane Lane Films
  • Gangs
  • Kidnapping
  • Motorcyclists
  • Rock ‘n Roll
  • Singers
  • Walter Hill Films

Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary is accurate but overly generous in his review of Walter Hill’s stylized rock-n-roll thriller-cum-western, which he argues is “a bit better than its reputation”. He notes that the film’s “unique look” (“part futuristic, part fiftyish, part Hollywood soundstage”), “exciting action sequences”, and “pounding rock score” (by Ry Cooder and others) compensate somewhat for its “familiar plot and intentionally skimpy dialogue” — but the film as a whole becomes increasingly tiresome after the initial excitement of its opening kidnapping sequence. Action-star Michael Pare couldn’t be more uncharismatic in the lead role, and Diane Lane — who does little more than “lip synch her songs” — is sadly miscast; one could care less about the cliched “romance” between them, complete with dramatic professions of love in a downpour. Meanwhile, creepy Dafoe — reminiscent of his later role as Max Schreck in Shadow of the Vampire (2000) — is the most compelling character in the film, but is given far too little screentime or narrative complexity. It’s no surprise this one became a “financial and critical bomb”.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Slick, colorful cinematography and art direction
  • Willem Dafoe as Raven
  • Ry Cooder et al.’s score

Must See?
No; despite its small cult following, this one can easily be skipped.


One thought on “Streets of Fire (1984)

  1. Not must-see, though it’s understandable why it would have some kind of cult following.

    ~understandable in the sense that cult status can grow in unlikely places…and sometimes just around a film as flimsy as this one. It’s all a little silly, really, and seems designed to those who like bikers and rock ‘n’ roll.

    Even on that score, however, the film comes up short. The bikers all seem to be doing little more than an homage to biker movies, and the film’s score is not all that good.

    That is, aside from the opening and closing numbers – ‘Nowhere Fast’ and ‘Tonight Is What It Means To Be Young’ – both written by Jim Steinman. The first serves well as an opening number. But it’s the second that is the best thing about the entire movie. Not only is it a great song, but it’s choreographed / shot / edited for maximum effect and it sends the film off with a bang.

    But that’s still not a reason to see the film. You can see the clip on YouTube.

    btw: Poor Amy Madigan. She tries to do what she can.

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