HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Boys from County Hell
All Hands On Deck
Teddy
Beasts Clawing at Straws
Summer of Soul (...Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)
Windom's Way
True Don Quixote, The
Babymother
Mitchells vs. the Machines, The
Dora and the Lost City of Gold
Unholy, The
How to Deter a Robber
Antebellum
Offering, The
Enola Holmes
Big Calamity, The
Man Under Table
Freedom Fields
Settlers
Boy Behind the Door, The
Swords of the Space Ark
I Still See You
Most Beautiful Boy in the World, The
Luz: The Flower of Evil
Human Voice, The
Guns Akimbo
Being a Human Person
Giants and Toys
Millionaires Express
Bringing Up Baby
World to Come, The
Air Conditioner
Fear and Loathing in Aspen
Kandisha
Riders of Justice
Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki, The
For Those Who Think Young
Justice League: War
Fuzzy Pink Nightgown, The
Plurality
   
 
Newest Articles
Truth Kills: Blow Out on Blu-ray
A Monument to All the Bullshit in the World: 1970s Disaster Movies
Take Care with Peanuts: Interview with Melissa Menta (SVP of Marketing)
Silent is Golden: Futtocks End... and Other Short Stories on Blu-ray
Winner on Losers: West 11 on Blu-ray
Freewheelin' - Bob Dylan: Odds and Ends on Digital
Never Sleep: The Night of the Hunter on Blu-ray
Sherlock vs Ripper: Murder by Decree on Blu-ray
That Ol' Black Magic: Encounter of the Spooky Kind on Blu-ray
She's Evil! She's Brilliant! Basic Instinct on Blu-ray
Hong Kong Dreamin': World of Wong Kar Wai on Blu-ray
Buckle Your Swash: The Devil-Ship Pirates on Blu-ray
Way of the Exploding Fist: One Armed Boxer on Blu-ray
A Lot of Growing Up to Do: Fast Times at Ridgemont High on Blu-ray
Oh My Godard: Masculin Feminin on Blu-ray
Let Us Play: Play for Today Volume 2 on Blu-ray
Before The Matrix, There was Johnny Mnemonic: on Digital
More Than Mad Science: Karloff at Columbia on Blu-ray
Indian Summer: The Darjeeling Limited on Blu-ray
3 from 1950s Hollyweird: Dr. T, Mankind and Plan 9
Meiko Kaji's Girl Gangs: Stray Cat Rock on Arrow
Having a Wild Weekend: Catch Us If You Can on Blu-ray
The Drifters: Star Lucie Bourdeu Interview
Meiko Kaji Behind Bars: Female Prisoner Scorpion on Arrow
The Horror of the Soviets: Viy on Blu-ray
   
 
  Nighthawks Always count on a cross-dressing Stallone
Year: 1981
Director: Bruce Malmuth
Stars: Sylvester Stallone, Billy Dee Williams, Lindsay Wagner, Persis Khambatta, Nigel Davenport, Rutger Hauer, Hilary Thompson, Joe Spinell, Walter Matthews, E. Brian Dean, Cesar Cordova, Charles Duval, Tony Munafo, Howard Stein, Tawn Christian
Genre: Action, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 2 votes)
Review: When an international terrorist arrives in New York City, streetwise super-cop Deke DaSilva (a bearded Sylvester Stallone) and his partner Matthew Fox (Billy Dee Williams, a.k.a. space pimp Lando Calrissian) are reassigned to a counterterrorist unit. The idealistic Deke clashes with his bluff, no-nonsense new boss, Interpol terrorist expert Hartmann (Nigel Davenport), who argues a shoot first, ask questions later policy is the only way to deal with ruthless mass murderer, Wulfgar (Rutger Hauer). Sure enough, soon after Deke inadvertently lets Wulfgar slip through his fingers, the terrorist makes his presence felt by hijacking a cable car full of United Nations personnel alongside his equally murderous compatriot Shakka Holland (Persis Khambatta, formerly the slinky slaphead from Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)). However, Deke has a trick or two up his sleeve…

There are edgy, intense thrillers and there are those that perhaps try a little too hard. A childhood viewing of Nighthawks left this writer envisioning it as the former, though seen today it’s surprising how unintentionally comical several sequences are. The film clearly wants to be a gritty and authentic urban thriller like The French Connection (1971) and in fact, was originally intended to be the second sequel to that groundbreaking cop classic with Gene Hackman back as “Popeye” Doyle and teamed with a wisecracking partner, possibly played by Richard Pryor. With Hackman reluctant to reprise his famous role, screenwriter David Shaber dutifully reworked the script into Nighthawks, with Disney hand Gary Nelson (Freaky Friday (1976), The Black Hole (1979)) the surprising original choice for director, though he was swiftly given the heave-ho in favour of newcomer Bruce Malmuth.

Malmuth went on to a largely undistinguished career, ranging from a horrendous invisible man comedy The Man Who Wasn’t There (1983) - not to be confused with the superior Coen Brothers offering of the same name - to the Steven Seagal action flick Hard to Kill (1990), though the underrated Where Are the Children? (1986) contains his best work. At the time the inexperienced Malmuth had only a segment of the portmanteau sex comedy Fore Play (1975) to his credit and was unable to reach the set in time for the first day of shooting. Stallone himself stepped in to film the cops’ pursuit of Wulfgar through a subway tunnel and onto a moving train, and actually produced the best handled, most suspenseful sequence in the whole movie.

The rest is wildly hit and miss. Cinematographer James A. Contner lends an air of urban menace, yet while Stallone is for the most part intriguingly low-key, he and his co-stars sometimes over-emote through the profanity-laden “cop talk”, straining so hard to be gritty that they’re camp. And of course there is that infamous opening sequence where a pair of knife-wielding street punks have their asses kicked by a seemingly defenceless woman, who is unmasked as - gasp! - hairy Sylvester Stallone. He then chases them down the street still wearing a skirt. This cross-dressing twist also plays a part in the finale, one of several sequences that were re-shot and mishandled by the studio. By all accounts the original version of Nighthawks was a far more complex and unsettling movie, and supposedly a lot bloodier. Stallone himself recently attacked Universal studios for mishandling the movie, though a restored cut has yet to resurface.

Making his Hollywood debut, Rutger Hauer gives a typically chilling performance, but Wulfgar is another of those politically ambiguous, all-purpose terrorists you only find in movies: a German-born, communist educated, hedonist psycho media whore. His biggest accomplishment is forcing Deke to declare “the police are cowards” in front of the hostages, which is something of a schoolboy prank by terrorist standards. In spite of Hauer’s efforts, Wulfgar’s terrorist routine comes across rather ridiculous, whether urging a plastic surgeon to “make me beautiful!” (and being transformed into movie star Rutger Hauer. Mmm…) or hanging out at a garish New York disco where he picks up naïve air stewardess Pam (Hilary Thompson) with the priceless line: “I’m an international terrorist wanted on three continents.” And yet his standoffs with Stallone’s cop crackle with genuine menace.

Former Bionic Woman Lindsay Wagner is wasted in a boring subplot about Deke trying to reconnect with his wife, though the dramatic weight behind their scenes was allegedly spoiled by studio interference. Nigel Davenport grounds a silly movie with his solid turn as the gruff Interpol expert, but his character is at the centre of a dubious right-wing message about how “hesitation must be removed from the police department” and “you need violence to combat violence.” Rather surprisingly, it is Stallone who - despite playing another Vietnam veteran with “fifty-two registered kills” - puts forward the liberal point of view and argues against being turned into a killing machine and endangering innocent people. However, his argument is weakened when that is exactly what happens. Ultimately, Nighthawks is a movie whose original intentions can only be guessed at and comes across like a hastily assembled jigsaw with false pieces forced in. Music by prog rocker Keith Emerson.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 3132 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf
   

 

Last Updated: