Ah the 80s. Neon lights. Silly haircuts. Meatloaf-esque power ballads everywhere. Greasers fought in the streets and everybody drove cars from the 50’s. Wait. That’s not right. Welcome to the odd world of Streets of Fire.
Directed by Walter Hill of 48 hours and Last Man Standing fame, Streets of Fire is a unique vision that tanked horribly upon it’s release. Forgotten and shelved, I’ve recently re-discovered this hidden gem thanks to some cool lists on the intro-net, and bring it to you in it’s cheap glory. The film is about a pop singer, played by a very young Diane Lane who gets herself kidnapped by a band of thug greasers lead by an also young Willem Dafoe. It’s up to our hero Cody, whom comes from the Sylvester Stallone school of acting, to kick some ass and shoot some motorcycles. Oh and Rick Moranis is in it playing a dweeby rich dude who is now dating said pop star even though she’s clearly under age. Ew. Hell even Bill Paxton has a bit part it so you know it’s gotta be good.
Ok so there’s 80’s opera ballads strewn all over the film but it’s not a musical. There’s 50’s cars and wardrobe but the film doesn’t feel like a period piece. It’s a film that takes place in an alternate timeline where 80s pop and neon had sex with the 50s and it ruled. Filled with beautiful cinematography and wet streets reflecting the ubiquitous garish lights, turning the film’s look into a stained glass of a seedy urban sprawl. Interestingly, the night shots were filmed during the day with a tarp over the set because most of the actors were under age and had to adhere to child labor laws. There’s plenty of action with the film starting with a bang and finishing with a punch and lots of explosions and macho action in between.
So yeah, I liked it. A lot. After the film was over with though I wasn’t left with much. There’s little character development and the film has nothing to say that hasn’t been said somewhere else better. But that’s ok because it’s not trying to be anything but unique and fun and it accomplishes that just fine. Streets of Fire is a satisfying little action flick and an exercise in how to light a scene beautifully.