Streets Of Fire – Review

film reviews | movies | features | BRWC Streets Of Fire - Review

Good lord. Sweet God almighty. Will you just look at that picture.

If a vampiric Willem Dafoe in PVC dungaroos surrounded by hellfire doesn’t affect you in some deeply personal way, then rent yourself to the army. You, my friend, are invincible.

Streets of Fire might just be the most masculine film I’ve ever seen. A quick list of some of the most overtly male things that happen in this blokesplosion:

– Bikers straight up steal women and drive off with them.

– A man hits other men over the head with a coat rack whilst wearing – successfully – a sleeveless denim shirt. With braces.

– Kissing. In the rain. Wet beards and crying women. Man-style.

– The only women are a tequila-slamming lesbian, who people repeatedly call “Butch”, and Diane Lane, a singer who opens the film by rocking a Meatloaf-equse hair ballad.

– Fire. And lots of it.

– A man punches out a woman. To protect her.

– Two dudes have a sword fight in the brooklyn streets. Only they’re not swords. They’re sledgehammers. Man-style.

After watching Streets of Fire I discovered that I’d grown a full beard. How manly is it? You just take another look at that picture of Willem Dafoe. To pull that off, your masculinity needs to be measurable in balls cubed. Willem Dafoe is 1,000 balls3.

Notice how I haven’t said that all this hyperthuggery is a good thing. It isn’t. In fact, Streets of Fire is a muscle-headed, hopelessly outdated, greasy fist of a film. It’s a deformed curio on a doctor’s shelf.

It describes itself as a taking place in ‘Another Time, Another Place…’ and it’s true. It’s hermetically sealed in a hybrid era, half 50s and half 80s. The huge hair, the leather clothes, the bizarre fusion of 50s diners and 80s scum bars, of 50s flannel shirts, and 80s neon. Everything is grimy, smoky or covered with John Travolta hair.

You punch what you can’t drink, shoot what you can’t punch and everything else is motorbikes. This is a film that has MEN in it, understand? They even cast Rick Moranis, the 80s go-to-guy for nebbish, just to stand next to the hero and emphasis exactly what a man isn’t.

The plot is the thinnest I’ve ever seen in a film, and that is no hyperbole. Diana Lane is kidnapped by Willem Dafoe and his fabulous band of biker tuffs. Diane’s ex, a marble block carved to look like Michael Paré, is called in to get her back. Explosions. He succeeds. Willem, annoyed challenges him to fight with hammers. Then they fight with hammers.

That’s it. Oh sure, people say mean things, punch out police officers and there are some tits at some point, but that’s all just window dressing. It’s short, it’s shallow, and entirely weightless. The dialogue’s so arch and the characters are so one-note it’s impossible for anything to matter.

Streets of Fire also has an ugly attitude towards women. If you’re not a damsel, a tough-as-nails lesbian or a stripper, you ain’t gettin’ screentime. This attitude strips away a lot of the film’s charm, turning cool into mean-spirited and badass into cruel.

The music’s great at least. From rock and roll tunes from an all-black harmony group that look like they’ve just finished playing the Enchantment Under The Sea Dance, tracks like “One Bad Stud” from bikers doing their best Big Joe Turner, all the way to Diane Lane’s Steinman-penned anthems, the soundtrack rocks and rocks hard.

Streets of Fire is a ridiculous, time-stamped pile of retro-tosh, but you might enjoy it from an archeologist’s perspective, or if you’re the sort of fellow who enjoys fighting naked. Either way, listen to your heart. 

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