Wednesday, 21 January 2009
SCARRED CITY (1998)
Written & Directed by: Ken Sanzel
Starring: Stephen Baldwin, Tia Carrere & Chazz Palminteri
Scarred City is an amped up little B-movie, that propels along and delivers plenty of well staged shoot-em up action scenes. John Trace (Baldwin) is a trigger happy cop who is up for review after shooting one to many perps in the line of duty. In fact, he is so trigger happy he shoots and kills yet another unarmed criminal and it looks like he is pretty much going to be canned from the force. However, Lieutenant Devon (Palminteri) is impressed by Trace’s shoot first don’t ask any questions attitude. “Fixing it” so he can stay on the force, Devon assigns Trace to a Special Police Squad who target notorious criminals with zero tolerance: they shoot to kill, no questions asked. Trace is reluctant at first but sees it as a chance to remain a cop but as the actions of the Squad become ever increasingly dangerous and put more and more people in harms way, Trace soon finds he may be on the wrong end of a shotgun from those who are supposed to uphold the law.
This may not be the most gritty police flick every made but it is certainly tough and packed with full on shotgun blasting action. Equal parts tense and pulpy, Scarred City is riveting fun as the cast run through a gauntlet of high impact gunplay scenes. All the principals act well taking things seriously when needed and hamming it up when the pulp aspects of the story call for it. The plot follows a well worn path but is kept entertaining by the on form cast and great action: lots of well orchestrated shoot-outs that feature mucho shotgun play and fierce firepower. Well shot and cut, the action flows fluidly and is evenly paced throughout the movie. Highlights include fire-fights in an abandoned gas station and a huge shootout in and around a house. Good quality, bare bones action.
The film comes from Ken Sanzel who wrote and directed the equally great shotgun happy action flick Lone Hero (reviewed elsewhere on this blog). This guy knows a thing or two about making action films, framing interesting characters and snappy dialogue around hard hitting action scenes. He seems to be relegated to TV writing these days (a driving force behind hit show Numbers) but made an impression with wicked B-movies Scarred City and Lone Hero. It’s a pity he isn’t making more of them. Scarred City may not go down in the history of great cops flick but it is certainly a tight and terrific little action thriller that is well worth hunting down.