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Shakedown

Shakedown

The Last Dragon

What He said:

I’ve really been in the mood for old school action flicks lately. I’ve been on a tear the last few weeks. I’ve mixed it up between things I have seen, but not in a while, and stuff that is brand new to me. I never saw this one before. Hell, I never heard of it. I was browsing around YouTube one day and saw that the entire movie was available and I like Peter Weller and Sam Elliot, so I figured why not?

Roland Dalton (Weller) is a public defender in Manhattan and he’s burnt out. That’s why he has decided to flee the scene and take a job with his soon-to-be father-in-law. He’s about to marry some gal named Gail (Blance Baker) whose daddy is some big shit at some corporate law firm. He seems to be a man stuck between two worlds, because he’s sick of one, but isn’t so sure he fits in the other. He’s reluctantly along for the ride for now.  

Shakedown

Before he makes the jump to the corporate world though, he has one last case. Michael Jones (Richard Brooks) is a drug dealer and he does not hide that fact. When questioned by police or in a court of law, he does not sugarcoat what he does to make money. What he does dispute though is that he murdered Officer Patrick O’Leary (Jude Ciccolella). He says it was self-defense. He claims that Officer O’Leary approached him in street clothes one night, did not say he was a cop, inquired about buying some drugs, and then tried to rob him at gunpoint, so he shot him down.

For some reason, Roland believes. This case lights a fire under his ass, so he chooses to investigate further. He checks in with a loner cop – and all-around tough guy – named Richie Marks (Sam Elliot).

You’ve got to love characters like Richie Marks. He’s like something out of the Old West, but happens to live in modern day Manhattan. Dalton finds Richie sleeping in a movie theater, where he apparently lives,  at least part of the time. Richie is the kind of guy who doesn’t work out or hone any of his police skills, he just goes out and does things. Richie is a man of the streets and is good at his job because when he isn’t eating like crap or spending too much time in a bar, he’s on the job. Richie is blue collar tough. He isn’t the kind of guy who comes from a highly trained military background, practices martial arts on the site, he’s simply a tough guy. The streets are his training ground.
Richie is reluctant to give Dalton much, because he doesn’t want to make life miserable for himself. He’s a good cop, a clean cop, but he also wants to stay clear of the dirty cops in his department (and there are apparently more than a few of them). He points Dalton in the right direction, but doesn’t want to get too involved. He is forced to get involved when people get wise to the fact he’s giving Dalton info and try to take him out and/or he has a crisis of conscience and just can’t take it anymore.

Shakedown

The two of them embark on the mission to track down the true story behind the death of Officer O’Leary. They are taken to some of the seediest places in town and their life is in danger at every turn. Dirty cops, drug dealers, henchmen, you name it, they’re coming after Dalton and Richie.

The bad guys are led by crooked cop Rydel (Larry Joshua) and drug dealer Nicky Carr (Antonion Fargas). They are the brains behind this operation and know the truth behind the shooting of Officer O’Leary. So if they are going to get to the bottom of this case, they are going to have to go after these two. They’re not hard to find. In fact, Rydel is pretty brazen about his partnership with Nicky Carr. He reminds me of Jack Travis from Lethal Weapon 3 in that sense. He fears no one and craves power. It seems like a healthy chunk of the guys at the precinct he and Richie work at are corrupt cops, which is probably why he’s so confident in his endeavors. They openly threaten both Riche and Dalton numerous times.  Once they put the pressure on as far as the case goes, things get ugly quickly.

He’s also got a terrible mullet, which might contribute to his anger. For all we know, a better haircut and this guy is a better police officer and a much nicer human being.

Shakedown

Nicky Carr is played by Antonio Fargas, of Starsky and Hutch Fame. It might be typecasting to cast Huggy Bear as a drug dealer in a movie, but what can I say? This guy was good at playing street-level scumbags. Good casting call here by the shot callers.

There is also a sub-plot involving Richie’s love life. The district attorney in the Michael Jones case is a former lover and current District Attorney, Susan Cantrell. They are on opposite sides of the case, but of course there’s sexual tension between them. You know that was going to happen before you even realize they know one another.

I should dislike Roland Dalton. I’m not the biggest fan of defense lawyers. Everyone deserves representation, I get that, but there’s something about someone who will defend anyone that doesn’t sit well with me. The thing I like about Dalton though is that he doesn’t pretend Michael Jones is a choir boy. He just doesn’t think he’s a murderer. He’s legitimately interested in the truth and not just getting a client the not guilty verdict because it’s his client.  I hate that kind of layer, fictional or not. He can’t help but stick his nose into this case, because he feels like there’s something wrong going on.

Richie is kind of the opposite. Don’t get me wrong, he’s not a bad guy at all – he’s actually a cop for all the right reasons – but taking down an entire crew of crooked cops was not on his list of things to do today. He’s a reluctant hero, but once he decides to do it, he goes all out. The dude is a bad-ass.

Shakedown

At first I couldn’t figure out what this movie was. Was it a crime drama, an action flick, or some misguided attempt at combining the two? The movie starts out somewhat gritty and realistic, and continues that way off-and-on throughout the movie, but has too many cartoony sequences to be considered a legitimate crime drama or thriller.  There were a few action sequences where I laughed to myself, but secretly loved every second of it. The execution could have been better in that sense. And if somebody told me they felt the movie couldn’t make up its mind whether it was a gritty crime dram or action flick, I wouldn’t disagree, it just didn’t bother me too much. Maybe it was the awesomeness that is Peter Weller and Sam Elliot, but I was able to get past it. The movie entertained me and that’s all I wanted out of it. I had fun watching it and would recommend it to anyone who likes older action movies. You could call it something of a guilty pleasure.

Rating: Thumbs up.

This movie review was given the He said, She said seal of approval on July 11, 2014.

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