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  Judgment Night Urban JungleBuy this film here.
Year: 1993
Director: Stephen Hopkins
Stars: Emilio Estevez, Cuba Gooding Jr, Denis Leary, Stephen Dorff, Jeremy Piven, Peter Greene, Erik Schrody, Michael Wiseman, Michael DeLorenzo, Relioues Webb, Will Zahrn, Eugene Williams, Christine Harnos, Galyn Görg, Angela Alvarado, Lauren Robinson
Genre: Action, Thriller
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Frank Wyatt (Emilio Estevez) has planned a night out with his friends, but his wife (Christine Harnos) is less than pleased to be left with the baby while he is out enjoying himself, and accuses them of being immature and womanising, which she is worried will rub off on her husband. They reach a kind of truce by the time Ray (Jeremy Piven) drives up in an R.V. he has hired for the evening, with Mike (Cuba Gooding Jr) jumping out to greet Frank and welcome him aboard. One thing, however: their other friend cannot make it, so Frank's brother John (Stephen Dorff) had stepped in...

This is set up to be a bad thing, as John has a hotheaded reputation that Frank has left behind now he's married, and sure enough on the way to the boxing match he does get into an argument with another driver. Yet with a lot of plot points in Judgment Night that promise something, that whole bad tempered John goes absolutely nowhere, and the narrative settled all too easily into empty action sequences and tons of swearing to leave us certain we had seen a grown-up movie and not a Hollywood actor's equivalent of an adventure playground.

This was really one of those plentiuful urban nightmare flicks, which could either be black comedies such as the original Out of Towners or After Hours, or go the more serious route like Falling Down did (that was supposed to be serious, wasn't it?). Whichever way they chose, the moral was the same: stray from your usual territory, be it smalltown or quiet suburb, and you'll be in deep trouble in those inner cities, although quite what you were meant to think if you already lived in a troubled inner city area and watched this was unclear. Unless it was get out while you can, because according to this you're living in a hellhole, not especially helpful.

Still, the name of the game here was more entertainment than social conscience, and we were landed in yet another update of The Most Dangerous Game where the prey was man, or these specimens of such that you got here. But who was the hunter? Well, after they decide to take a shortcut to avoid the traffic jam that has stalled their good time, the four chaps end up witnessing a gang killing and have to spend the rest of the film running away from deeply unreasonable, weapon-wielding thugs. They are led by Fallon, not the character from Dynasty but a wily criminal played by top Bill Hicks impersonator Denis Leary, evidently relishing the opportunity to act the badass.

Being the family man means Frank must now take the role of the father to this brood of unruly "kids", so it's up to him to make sure that everyone gets out alive, having lost their transport to an accident and their money to a group of down-and-outs they were bribing to keep quiet (so much for that idea). In spite of director Stephen Hopkins doing his best to keep this interesting, it remained fairly repetitive as our heroes escape, are nearly caught, and then escape again, repeated until the credits rolled. The character marked out as most likely to die will surprise nobody, that Fallon murders one of his own henchmen in a fit of pique to show how mean he is likewise, but for what it was it proceeded with fair efficiency while never rising above the material or what we'd come to expect from efforts like this. It did drag on for far too long, but it was forgettable, functional entertainment. Music by Alan Silvestri.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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