Monday, 11 January 2010

Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects


Directed by
: J. Lee Thompson
Written by: Harold Nebenzal
Starring: Charles Bronson, Perry Lopez, James Pax & Juan Fernandez

A low down, seedy thriller from Bronson and director J. Lee Thompson, their last collaboration together and for Cannon studios. The pair made some decent films during the eighties including Murphy’s Law and Messenger of Death and even the watchable Death Wish 4: The Crackdown but were obviously running out of steam here. Bronson is the tough, gruff Crowe, a no-nonsense cop (did he play any other kind?) who is sick of the scum and sleaze of Los Angeles. Not adverse to the odd racial diatribe and smacking suspects around Crowe isn’t the most likeable man despite trying to do the right thing. Determined to take down scummy pimp Duke (Fernandez) who runs a child prostitution ring for high profile clients, Crowe attempts to bring him in on the kidnap of a young Japanese girl. Crowe knows Duke has her but his own ineptitudes and prejudices may just keep him from getting her back and bringing Duke to justice.

Kinjite certainly gets points for attempting to be a dark thriller. It deals with a very risky subject, quite openly, often making no attempts to hide what the bad guys do. While a lot of the violence and heinous acts are off camera they are implied enough to leave a nasty taste in the mouth. In fact, the sleaziness and awfulness of the acts of certain characters if often unrelenting that you wish they would just throw in a car chase to take a break from the underbelly of Los Angeles. This is the problem with Kinjite: trying to merge a dark thriller with a Bronson action film. It doesn’t quite work. Bronson ain’t bad and it’s cool too see him playing a character who realizes he has made some mistakes and is a little more prejudice than he might believe but all believability is thrown out the window when he starts chucking suspects off buildings and forcing them to eat Rolexes (!) in attempt to get them to talk. The film is also somewhat muddled in its intentions, the subplot of a Japanese family relocating to Los Angeles and the father finding his own sexual urges somewhat corrupted by what he sees and experiences, not always sitting well with the main plot of Crowe taking down Duke. Perhaps the script was retooled a little too much to turn it into a Bronson vehicle?

Still, if you can get past the dark subject matter, Kinjite isn’t all bad and on its own terms not a bad thriller. Slickly shot, well acted (Juan Fernandez from Crocodile Dundee 2 makes for a very nasty bad guy) and with a cool set piece at the end that involves a giant crane and mucho car destruction, the film still offers the Bronson fan some vintage, justice serving action. You just may want to take a shower after watching this one.

1 comment:

That Man Ray said...

The last scene was classic, "poetic justice." Bronson is missed... Thanks for the review.