Film Review: Shakedown (Blue Jean Cop, 1988)



Films don’t have to be abysmally bad in order to become huge disappointment. One such example is Shakedown, 1988 action thriller written and directed by James Glickenhaus, also distributed under title Blue Jean Cop.

Plot is set in New York City, where the protagonist, attorney Roland Dalton (played by Peter Weller) intends to end his career as public defender after fourteen years in order to get less stressful and more lucrative job in Wall Street firm owned by parents of his fiancée Gail (played by Blanche Baker). His last client is Michael Jones (played by Richard Brooks), crack dealer who shot and killed undercover NYPD officer. Jones, who got wounded during the incident, claims that the killing was in self-defence and that the policeman tried to rob him. Dalton decides to seek evidence that would prove his claims while receiving help from Richie Marks (played by Sam Elliott), veteran NYPD detective who is as disgusted with his corrupt colleagues as with drug dealers. In the meantime, the prosecutor in the case happens to be Susan Cantrell (played by Patricia Charbonneau) with whom he had a romantic relationship in the past. Dalton and Richie would ultimately have to deal with cabal of corrupt detectives who became quite affluent after stealing drugs and money from dealers and who would stop at nothing to protect their ill-gotten gains.

Glickenhaus made the film with relatively low budget, but it doesn’t show much in the film. Cinematography by John Lindey is quite effective and the film features some rather impressive action scenes. Cast is very good, especially Peter Weller in the role of protagonist who uses brains instead of brawn and leaves the dirty work to his street smart partner, played by always charismatic Sam Elliott. Supporting players are also good, like Richard Brooks as Dalton’s client or Antonio Fargas as drug lord in cahoots with corrupt policemen Main problem for Shakedown is in the script that unsuccessfully tries to fuse two different films into one. The first is what looks like a serious crime drama that deals with important issues of crime-infested 1980s urban America and takes quite different approach from many Hollywood films at the time by suggesting that the police is part of the problem rather than solution in War on Drugs. But any attempt to make this film as important as gritty police dramas like those directed by Sidney Lumet is compromised with the scenes that look they were imported from cheap exploitation films made the Cannon Group. Shakedown features spectacular car chases, explosions, stunt-heavy showdown at amusement park, protagonist in cab defeating police blockade by conveniently placed construction crane. Everything is, however, dwarfed by finale which features one of the characters preventing villains from escaping justice in a private jet; the scene is spectacular but ruined not only through its outrageousness and lack of credibility, but also because of poor special effects. Finale, which neatly provides happy ending in a predictable cliched way, makes this interesting film that had great potential even more disappointing.

RATING: 4/10 (++)

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A old classic :D on bad movies btw XD