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  Gleaming the Cube It's Great To SkateBuy this film here.
Year: 1989
Director: Graeme Clifford
Stars: Christian Slater, Steven Bauer, Richard Herd, Le Tuan, Min Luong, Art Chudabala, Ed Lauter, Micole Mercurio, Peter Kwong, Charles Cyphers, Max Perlich, Tony Hawk, Tommy Guerrero, Christian Jacobs, Joe Gosha, Andy Nguyen, Arsenio 'Sonny' Trinidad
Genre: Action, Thriller
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: Brian Kelly (Christian Slater) is a teenage kid whose main passion in life is skateboarding, and today he persuades a pilot friend of his to take him and his fellow skaters up in his light aircraft to survey the local area. While they are up in the sky, they spot an empty swimming pool large enough for their purposes, and head over there for an afternoon's fun. Not so much fun when one of them bangs his head on the bottom, leaving a bloodstain and raising the ire of the owner, but these are the hazards Brian lives with - though life is about to get a lot more dangerous...

Gleaming the Cube starts off with a song that goes "Gleee-min! The Cu-hu-hube!" which should alert you to the fact this is the eighties we're dealing with, and in the tradition of youthsploitation movies from the fifties to the present it was created to cash in on a craze, much like Rock Around the Clock had done thirty years before. Or indeed like the Leif Garrett vehicle Skateboard had done ten years before, only this had pretentions to be both a thriller and a grownups just don't understand-style teen problem pic with Slater doing his best early Jack Nicholson.

For skateboarders, this film is notable for featuring a young Tony Hawk in front of the camera as one of Brian's gang, and Stacy Peralta behind it taking care of the action scenes with Slater's stunt doubles taking care of making him look like a champion simply by being filmed with the sun behind them so you can't make out their faces properly. Yes, it's stunningly convincing. For movie buffs, this is interesting for having Michael Tolkin on script duties before he won some considerable goodwill by writing The Player for Robert Altman and in an even cultier move, taking God to task in The Rapture, but don't be fooled, for this is lightweight in almost every respect.

The thriller part comes into the plot when Brian's adopted brother Vinh (Art Chudabala) notices that there is a large discrepancy on the books at the medical supplier he works at, which leads him to being accidentally killed when threatened by the bad guys. They make it look like a suicide, but Brian and police detective Steven Bauer are not so sure, although Brian's rebellious streak prevents them from seeing eye to eye. So in a storyline that The Red Hand Gang might have rejected for being too hackneyed, it's up to Brian to stop the villains in their tracks.

Needless to say, this is incredibly boring in the bits where nobody is zooming about on a skateboard, and even makes the error of having Brian reform halfway through so he doesn't skate anymore, all so he can get closer to Vinh's girlfriend Tina (Min Luong) whose father disapproves of him. Rest assured he gets back on his board eventually, and there are the odd scenes of him witnessing a murder or being chased by blokes on motorbikes to wake you up a bit. But really, it's the action sequences that are the film's best aspect, and they are too few and far between meaning too much of Slater emoting for anybody's patience. It does end with an unintentionally hilarious chase, with Brian clinging onto a sports car at high speeds (why didn't he just get in?) and performing a bout of skate-fu on the chief villain, but it's too little too late for most of us.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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