|Duel of the fates.|
I hesitate to call Streets of Fire "so bad it's good". It's bombastic, paratactic, melodramatic, utterly unnecessary, totally unrealistic, terrifyingly random and brain-squishingly stupid. But it's not bad. Quite the contrary. How? Why? A, because the mise-en-scene is gorgeous. B, because every performer gives 150% in this movie. This is something that can be hilarious in B-movies where the combined cast is as talented as a high school football mascot, but several of Streets of Fire's actors are exceptional talents who went on to fame and/or fortune. Van Valkenburgh, with her haunted-eyed, autumnal beauty, could have done Chekhov; and here she is doing Streets of Fire instead! C, because the script makes room for four major female characters, three of whom are not even interested in boinking our hero. Passes the Bechtel Test and then some. D, because the soundtrack, holy fuck the soundtrack. You didn't even know this movie existed, but you already have several of the songs it popularized irreversibly seared into your memory. "I can dream about you, if I can't hold you tonight...." yeah, that's Streets of Fire. (Jim Steinman composed most of Ellen Aim's music; if you don't know who that is, here's a reference).
As for the script, well, it's not particularly polished. The characters are needlessly at each others' throats; no one ever says "yes" or "no" where a "fine, dickhead" or "fuck you!" can be substituted. Also, situations escalate into physical violence with a clockwork regularity that is both stupid and transcendentally beautiful. I will say, though, that despite the schoolyard trash-talk and the hair-trigger tempers, a weird grace eventually surfaces in the relationship between Tom and Ellen. When he bids Ellen goodbye with a smile and tells McCoy, "we were just going in different directions, it's nobody's fault", it's a moment of refreshing emotional maturity in the midst of so much 80s action schlock. (This line does come mere minutes after Tom socks Ellen out cold to keep her from getting in his way, so take that with a grain of salt, I guess).
To sum up Streets of Fire's selling points: there is a Jim Steinman soundtrack. There is kissing in the rain. There is a sledgehammer duel. There is a doo-wop quartet. There is everything you need to shake even the most killer case of the blues. Go watch it already.
|That's some bad hat, Harry.|
|She looks so angry at that pole.|