Angel's Dance (1999) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

I assumed this would be a typical grade B straight-to-vid mob and cops movie, in the manner of Eric Roberts, and I usually hate those things. I was wrong. I ended up being completely surprised and charmed by "Angel's Dance". Who would have guessed? It is an amoral, madly inventive, often hilarious, comedy-drama about the new modern mob, and the casting of James Belushi and Sheryl Lee was absolutely perfect. Belushi was born for this role.

The wiseguys lose their top hit man in a freak accident, so they nominate his successor. But this is the 21st century. You don't just step up and bingo, you're a hit man. They have a complete training program. Turns out that it works just like The Karate Kid. A hit man has to go through all the mind control wax-on wax-off machinations before he can be certified to kill, and the trainer is an aging California Zen master dude played by James Belushi, who knows as much about Nietzsche, vegetarian diet, and surfing as he knows about silencers and nine millimeter assault rifles.

And he recycles his used shells.

The trainee, on the other hand, is one of those guys who never takes off his suit, dark glasses, and shoulder holster, meaning of course that every person in California knows he is a visiting Chicago mobster. I'm afraid the kid is not exactly undercover material, especially in L.A., and this conflict of styles creates some opportunities for humor.

The final test for the little grasshopper was to kill an innocent person. He had to take a random name out of the phone book and ice her, because if you can kill an innocent, you can kill anyone without remorse. It proves that you're cold and heartless enough to be a hit man.

The aspiring hit man ended up choosing a mousy, bookish technician in the morgue, a lonely freak who takes pictures of the corpses and frames them on her walls. (Belushi was impressed with some of the pictures - "hey, I popped that guy")

Unfortunately for the mob boys, the intelligent little mouse deduced that these two crazy guys were stalking her, and it got to the point where she was tired of living terrified. She decided if she's going to go out, it's going to be with style, so she went to the library and researched the hell out of assassins and the counter-techniques against them, set up her defenses, bought her weapons and body armor, and got ready for battle.


Sheryl Lee's bosom is seen close up when she emerges from the water, and she is then stark naked full-frontal, albeit far from the camera.

There are two sex scenes with anonymous women, both of which feature toplessness, but no lower bodies. One of the women is named named Gisella Peters, who appears in a clear well-lit scene. The other (opening scene) is not identified in the cast

In fact, she figured out the identity of the California guy through the police, and she even took pre-emptive action against his home, then did a drive-by shooting at the two wiseguys as they ate at an outdoor restaurant. In essence, she turned herself into a Home Study Femme Nikita

The mob boss in Chicago, Uncle Vinny (how tough is he? when he doesn't knock down all the bowling pins, he shoots the remaining ones), was not happy with all these developments, because he needed to get his hit man trained in time to assassinate a stoolie accountant before he testified, so Vinny sent a team of his best mobsters to California to see what was going on. Finally, five mob guys all ended up chasing the poor woman through a mortuary and cemetery.


Don't read any more if you're planning to see it, because it has a great ending, and I'm about to tell you what it is.

The mobsters didn't take the little grasshopper along on the final hit in the mortuary. They concluded that he was too soft to be a hit man.

In the last scene, Belushi was just about to kill Sheryl Lee when the little grasshopper came in out of nowhere and shot Belushi in the shoulder, because grasshopper decided that he had fallen in love with Sheryl Lee. Belushi asks why he thinks that, and he confesses that he's finally met his soul-mate, and he doesn't care what Uncle Vinny thinks back in Chicago. Sheryl Lee listens to a bit of his heartfelt speech, then picks up her own gun and shoots the poor sap in the head.

DVD info from Amazon.

Good movie, but lame DVD. A mediocre, but satisfactory transfer, but NOT widescreen as advertised. It is an unenhanced 4:3 transfer. Cheesy bios and a trailer, that's all

Then Belushi himself is ready to be killed, when she says "let's talk".

Of course, she turns out to be cold-blooded enough to be the new hit man the mob needs, and everyone is happy.

Except Uncle Vinny's accountant.

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: I guess you have to call it two and a half. Apollo reviewed it, and gave it 63/100. Their verbal review indicated the film was better than that, but they felt guilty giving a good review to such an amoral movie.

That was the only review.

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 5.6, but Apollo users score it 83/100.
  • The film went to video after a couple airings on HBO.
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this film is a C+. A very entertaining dramedy, even though you've never heard of it.

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