Fear City Reviews
"Fear City" is a low budget b-movie thriller from Abel Ferrara adding a mix of sex, nudity and violence to portray Times Square in the early 80´s, but at the same time he was most certainly looking for tabloid headlines and shock value to get an audience in the cinemas. The movie was originally made by 20th Century-Fox, but they decided that it had too much nudity, sex, violence and drug references for them, so they sold it to the independent Aquarius Releasing. Compared to Ferrara´s quite disturbing, but much more effective and visual "Ms. 45" (1981), this follow up is pretty disappointing. First of all the antagonist, the so called Karate killer makes no sense in my book. I guess due to the success of several martial arts movies back then, they decided that the killer should use martial arts and some how connect his killings to a cleaning of both himself and the city of New York in an eastern philosophical way. Did it work? No. Despite some ok names in the main roles (Berenger, Williams etc), I hardly believe any of them feel all that happy about their performances in this film. Melanie Griffith has never been a very good actress and "Fear City" doesn´t change that fact. It was however nice to see some old 80´s crushes passing by in the shape of Rae Dawn Chong and María Conchita Alonso. Abel Ferrara is good at showing the sleezy side of NYC and that has partly become his brandmark. But, he is quite uneven as a director, and this is a good example of the downside of his profession. The acting is so so, the dialogue so so, the action pretty ridiculous. But, you get a glimpse of some ok tension/ drama once in a while in the film. Nice to have seen it, but "Fear City" is hardly something you would see twice.
It doesn't mean however, I didn't think it wasn't watchable.
The plot is about a "stripper-agency" that has been stricken hard by a couple of attacks on strippers after having finished their shift. It soon stands clear that it's a maniac behind, who sees it as his duty to clean up the "mess" in New York City.
Matt Rossi (Tom Berenger) is a former boxer who is scarred after having accidentally killed an opponent some time ago, but is nowadays running a stripper agency. Though, he himself is not particularly interested in the strippers, except for Loretta (Melanie Griffith) who he's had an on and off-relationship with. While his co-workers is preparing for a war, now when there is a psycho attacking their girls, Matt is not ready to "put his boxing gloves on again", that is, not until the threat is on Loretta....
The whole movie screams low-budget, and you could hardly call the environments particularly charming (or it depends if you like strippers clubs or not :P, but there is some neo-noir core (like the anti-hero "Matt") in it that doesn't feel too ambitious, that I like. And what's more, the theme song is written by David Johansen from New York Dolls! Melanie Griffith reputation as a terrible actress is not really saved, with her performance in this... But Tom Berenger on the other hand, is doing ok, I think. The director, Abel Ferrara has gotten more praise for other movies, like; Bad Lieutenant, and King of New York. Decadence and violence is a common theme in his movies.
I happen to have a weak spot for cult movies, and this is cult!
If you've always wanted to see Melanie Griffith topless, this is the movie for you!
A nameless asshole is killing hookers in NYC for reasons that are never made clear; he's just a martial arts enthusiast asshole who wants to torment and murder women who are less than half his size, which makes the attacks look all the more ridiculous.
Not for all tastes I'm sure, but I would highly recommend this one.
Fear city is a detective/revenge thriller about cops, hookers, pimps, ex-boxers and a killer. It's centered around two pimps who run a business selling girls to night club owners to strip for there paying customers. But business starts getting a little rough once they find out theirs a killer on the loose who kills women on the street and writes about it in a journal when he gets home. Women are then too afraid to leave there home while others are getting brutally murdered leaving all of the strip joints empty and putting the two pimps in very angry and vengeful states. Meanwhile, Billy Dee Williams is also trying to capture the killer while also keeping a sharp eye on the two pimps.
The only two Ferrara movies I've seen other than this were Bad Lieutenant and The Funeral, and while those two movies were sort of like mood pieces, Fear City is a highly entertaining, 80's crime thriller with a pretty rockin' soundtrack and a really great cast. I'm not saying that this is better than the other 2 Ferrara movies, I just think that this is the most entertaining and is the easiest to watch if you don't have a problem with bare breasted women in thongs.
When the movie ends it has a pretty exciting climax that I wont give away, but it leaves so many unanswered questions regarding the killer, the partner, and the club. It's like Abel had just completely forgotten about all the movie's subplots and just dropped them completely at the final scene.
But problems aside, this is still a fun and entertaining crime story. It's a little different from Abel's previous work which means that anyone can watch it except for kids.
Overacting to the highest level. Also, the chick from the Thriller video is in this.
Fear City tells us the story of an ex-boxer (Tom Berenger) who's present business is supplying strippers for clubs and private parties. He and his partner are doing well until strippers start turning up slashed. Police can't figure out if it is gang related but one detective (Billy Dee Williams) is set on catching those responsible. In time, we see a shadowy figure that is responsible for the precise attacks and by now, Berenger is raging, looking for a new kind of fight. His love interest is played by Melanie Griffith, who is a stripper as well, and she may very well be the next target. The tension builds as the body count rises.
It's a flash of lights and skin mixed with moments of gravity and complexity. Berenger retired from boxing after killing his last opponent. The effects of this guilt and his eventual role in the killings are standout features, as well as everything surrounding the killer himself. The killer documenting his thoughts in his notebook (entitled Fear City) as well as the scenes of him stalking his victims is some really intriguing material. I wish there were more of Berenger and the killer as they held my attention the most. There are definitely some of the less fortunate 80's feels and tones to this project and while it goes up and down a bit, it has enough power to hold its own. (C)
Suprisingly kind of dull for an Abel Ferrara movie about Billy Dee Williams & Tom Berenger tracking a Kung Fu rapist in Times Square.
An intersting question: The "slasher" in the movie is John Foster, who was not an actor, but a martial arts expert.
I often wonder how such "other tough guys" such as Dolph Lundgren, Arnold, van Damme Segal and others made it --- while Foster didn't. He is far more attractive than (the others), has a body on loan to him from a Greek God, and is very convincing in his portrayal.
The question begs: "Just why do some guys make it -- and others don't?"
"Arnold isn't, with his ridicuolous Austrian accent", van Damme isn't, with his French accent, neither Dolph (Dolf?) nor Segal are exactly "box office" faces. So --- what happened to John Foster and his career?
Not gay ---- just wondering if anyone knows just HOW Hollywood works, and who knows what the bio of John Foster is? In short, why do some guys or gals make it --- and others (far more believeable and talented, don't).