Newest Reviews
Old Guard, The
Disappearance at Clifton Hill
Sullivans, The
Love in the Afternoon
Black Water: Abyss
Wild Blue Yonder, The
All Hail the Popcorn King
Muriel, or the Time of Return
Great Locomotive Chase, The
American Anthem
Lion and the Horse, The
War of the Wizards
Doctor Faustus
Spite Marriage
Mask, The
Letter to Jane
Quick Millions
Dream Demon
Max Havelaar
Glastonbury Fayre
All Dogs Go to Heaven
Shoot Out
Da 5 Bloods
Kung Fu Monster
Secret Agent Super Dragon
Saint Frances
Boiling Point
Golden Stallion, The
Dragon Force
Anthropocene: The Human Epoch
Luck of Ginger Coffey, The
Junkers Come Here
Newest Articles
Divine Madness: Female Trouble on Blu-ray
Country Matters: Further Out of Town on Blu-ray
Bat-Damn: Was Joel Schumacher's Batman Really That Bad?
The Beat Goes On: Takeshi Kitano Collection on Blu-ray
Dream Treats: Scorsese Shorts on Blu-ray
It's Only Money: Laughter in Paradise on Blu-ray
A Regular Terpsichore: Dance, Girl, Dance on Blu-ray
Teenage Trauma: Baby Love on Blu-ray
The Happening: Pet Shop Boys It Couldn't Happen Here on Blu-ray
Who Watched The Watchmen?
The Golden Age of Colonic Irrigation: Monty Python Series 4 on Blu-ray
Lady of Pleasure: Lola Montes on Blu-ray
Take You to the Gay Bar: Funeral Parade of Roses on Blu-ray
Hit for Ms: Mark Cousins' Women Make Film on Blu-ray
Look Sinister: The 1000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse on Blu-ray
Star Wars Triple Threat: The Tricky Third Prequel and Sequel
I Can See for Miles: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes on Blu-ray
Too Much Pressure: The Family Way on Blu-ray
The Alan Key: Alan Klein and What a Crazy World on Blu-ray
A Japanese Ghost Story: Kwaidan on Blu-ray
The Zu Gang: Zu Warriors from the Magic Mountain on Blu-ray
Reality TV: The Year of the Sex Olympics on DVD
The Young and the Damned: They Live By Night on Blu-ray
Mind How You Go: The Best of COI on Blu-ray
Der Kommissar's in Town: Babylon Berlin Series 3 on DVD
  Time to Die, A Trust in Lords
Year: 1991
Director: Charles T. Kanganis
Stars: Traci Lords, Jeff Conaway, Richard Roundtree, Robert Miano, Bradford Bancroft, Nitchie Barrett, Gino Dentie, Daphne Cheung, Jesse Thomas, Victor Vidales, Manuel Cabral, Nick Gambella, Shaun Shimoda, Jan Flame, Nicole Picard
Genre: Sex, Action, Thriller, TrashBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Wrongfully arrested for cocaine possession, fashion photographer Jackie Swanson (Traci Lords) loses custody of her young son, Kevin (Jesse Thomas). Sentenced to serve four hundred hours of community service, Jackie is assigned to snap flattering photos of cops on the job. Which is how she catches the eye of tough police detective Frank (Jeff Conaway), after saving his life from two trigger-happy Mexican arms dealers. Although the pair become lovers Jackie proves reluctant to take their relationship a step further since her main aim remains regaining her son. One night she happens to take a photo of corrupt cop Lieutenant Eddie Martin (Robert Miano) as he murders an errant pimp (for reasons none too clear). Unfortunately, Eddie spies her too. After a botched attempt to silence Jackie claims the life of her close friend, the resourceful photographer resorts to desperate measures to protect her loved ones.

Throughout the Nineties, the PM Entertainment Group, a low-budget production outfit founded by independent director Joseph Merhi, flooded video-stores with a slew of trashy but glossy direct to video action thrillers. Often headlined by familiar but far from A-list stars such as Erik Estrada, Wings Hauser, Jeff Conaway and C. Thomas Howell, many of whom they also gave the chance to direct. Among PMEG’s most notable draws was former underage porn star Traci Lords. After retiring from the adult film industry, Lords proved she could really act with scene-stealing turns in John Waters’ cult musical Cry Baby (1990) and Marvel blockbuster Blade (1998) but between those, PMEG made a determined effort to mould her into a DTV action heroine. The first of these outings was A Time to Die, a charmingly cheesy thriller with a certain idiosyncratic appeal. TV safe visuals make this resemble an episode of Miami Vice, however writer-director Charles T. Kanganis adds the odd arresting flourish (flashy editing tricks, moody noir lighting) that coupled with some very eccentric humour (e.g. a running gag involving two squabbling lesbian wrestlers; or when Eddie sighs “This ain’t my day” upon discovering he shot the wrong woman) and neat plot twists leave this surprisingly compelling.

Admittedly the pacing is ramshackle and unfocused. The film takes around fifty minutes to establish a definitive direction while Kanganis favours bizarre conversational detours that are oddly prescient of Quentin Tarantino. While Lords avoids any overt nudity during her sex scenes, A Time to Die remains a strange combination of softcore shenanigans, neo-noir thriller and wholesome family values. The struggling single mom sub-plot, which one presumes was an attempt to “rehabilitate” Lords’ image, is soap opera silly. Slow-motion happy family flashbacks disrupt the plot flow as do Jackie’s wacky themed photo-shoots that look like something out of an early Nineties music video from C&C Music Factory. Nevertheless the sub-plot detailing the collapse of the relationship between Jackie’s ex-husband Sam (Bradford Bancroft) and his girlfriend (Nitchie Barrett), who surprisingly remains the heroine’s staunchest advocate, proves unexpectedly affecting. Once Jackie gets caught in a cat and mouse game with coke-snorting corrupt cop Eddie things grow genuinely suspenseful before climaxing with a gripping, well orchestrated finale.

Paired opposite Lords, onetime Grease (1978) star Jeff Conaway is too familiar from his stint on sitcom Taxi to fully convince as a hardboiled cop but serves his role capably. Erstwhile Shaft (1971) Richard Roundtree also cameos in the genre requisite role of short-tempered police chief. As for Traci Lords, she is undeniably lovely but more importantly, genuinely convincing and charismatic as the gutsy, sassy crime photographer who can handle herself in a rough situation. She re-teamed with Kanganis the following year, this time as a crime-busting cop in Intent to Kill (1992).

Click here for the trailer

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam


This review has been viewed 1301 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

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

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Paul Smith
Andrew Pragasam
  Mick Stewart
Enoch Sneed
  Dsfgsdfg Dsgdsgsdg
  Hannah Prosser


Last Updated: