City of Industry (1997) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)
|There is a pretty solid market out there for ultrahip, ultraviolent noir films about psychotic gangsters who rip each other off and do nasty things to each other in dark places with saxophone solos in the solemn moments, and heavy metal music in the background for the action scenes.|
|This particular one sets up the confrontation mano-a-mano. Four guys commit a jewel robbery together, one of them betrays the others, but fails to kill all three of them. The betrayer and the betrayed hunt each other down for the rest of the movie. We are to sympathize with the betrayed (Keitel), who lost his brother in the process, and who is alone against all the forces the betrayer can muster. Since the betrayer has the money, he can afford to hire plenty of muscle to help him hit Keitel, while ol' Harve is pretty much on his own.||
betrayer hires a black gang to help him get get inside an
Asian gang that he needs for two things (1) fence the
jewels (2) get rid of Keitel. These guys turn out to be
incompetent at both:
(1) at one point, the betrayer (let me call him Skip) is sitting and waiting for the fence to get him his money. Keitel gets into the fence's office and says "I want the money you're holding for Skip". Then we see the Asian fence calling Skip to say Keitel has the money. Skip (or the screenwriter) is too dumb to ask the proper follow-up question - "hey, wait a minute - the money doesn't exist - I'm WAITING for it, remember? If you were able to give some money physically to Keitel, why weren't you able to give it to me?" Oops! But he doesn't say that ... instead he finds out where Harve is and hires the same Asian guy to make a hit on the room. Yup, he just hired the same guy who was able to give Keitel the money, but not him. I guess he proved to be trustworthy.
(2) At one point, upon instructions from their leader to fix the Keitel situation permanently, the Asian guys do get Keitel, work him over and leave him for dead. Note that I said "FOR dead". These are apparently not the kind of Asian guys who score 1600 on their SAT's, because they can't even figure out the meaning of the word "permanent". So it turns out to be the old James Bond thing where they leave him to die, and he manages to get himself back into the game.
You can see that the script isn't very tight. The direction is even looser. Some examples:
|Y'know, the movie had
some potential, but the pacing is so-o-o-o slow and the
detail work is so sloppy that even Keitel's realistic
performance couldn't really solidify it. Critics hated it
for many reasons. Critics tend to focus on the script and
direction errors that any film student would have
avoided, but the general population doesn't always notice
or care about these things, and apparently does include a
fairly enthusiastic audience for this movie. The average
score at IMDb is a respectable 6.2. (None of the major
critics gave it more than two stars). I guess genre buffs
focused in on (1) the Keitel performance, and (2) the
strong musical score, which gave the film some
credibility and atmosphere, respectively.
I couldn't rate it below the "C" range. I differ a bit from the critics in the sense that the film obviously plays well with a lot of genre buffs. The continuity errors and script holes are distracting, but the film still has a certain murky power to it. I don't think you can say it's a good movie, but I don't think you can deny its genre appeal. If you don't like ultraviolent crime-betrayal-revenge films, however, you will hate it because it has none of the positives that might save it for you, while possessing all of the elements that you hate.
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