Streets of Fire - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Streets of Fire Reviews

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May 29, 2018
A box office bomb at the time of it's release, and as flawed of a film as it is, it's one that's always stuck with me. With the subtitle "A Rock & Roll Fable," this film tells the story of singer Diane Lane returning to her hometown for one performance, only to be kidnapped by Willem Defoe's biker gang. That's when Deborah Van Valkenburgh sends a wire to Lane's old flame, her brother, Michael Pare as Tom Cody, a mercenary for hire, shows up from parts unknown to rescue her. It's the type of stripped down, no-nonsense story that writer/director Walter Hill ("The Driver," "Southern Comfort," "Undisputed," etc.) excelles at, but what made this film so memorable for me was stylized setting and genre mashup, mixing elements of action, musical, and juvenile delinquent films. I remember Hill saying he was trying to make the type of film he would have loved at a kid. The film features cars, fashions, music, and locations that look straight out of "Blackboard Jungle" or "The Cool and the Crazy," but with a neon soaked 1980s twist. In many ways, "Streets of Fire" feels like a stylized extension of Hill's earlier film "The Warriors," which at once felt gritty and realistic while also had an unreal aspect to it. "Streets of Fire" takes the visual stylistics of "The Warriors" to the next level, but instead of a Homeric Odyssey, this film is more of a fairy tale with greasers. 18-year old Diane Lane, in what was probably her first glamorous adult role, is amazing as Ellen Aim. She's strong, gorgeous, and overcomes Hill's usual misogyny. Her singing had to be dubbed, but she looks great on stage during the musical numbers. Incidentally, Stevie Nicks wrote all of the Ellen Aims songs. The villain of the picture, Willem Dafoe as biker gang leader Raven Shaddock, without question steals the movie and every scene he's in. At this point in his career, Dafoe was a complete unknown and his only lead role was Katherine Bigelow's little seen "The Loveless" (where he also played a bike gang leader), but it's so clear from his performance, even when playing what's essentially a comic book villain, he's a talent to be reckoned with. It's also a lot of fun that Dafoe's sidekick/number two/lead henchmen is played by Lee Ving, the harsh voiced lead singer for the seminal punk band FEAR. There's also a early appearance by Robert Townsend as a backup singer. Which brings us to the films major weakness, which is a laconic and lifeless performance by Michael Pare in the lead. Pare looks the part, tall, dark, handsome, but lacks the charisma to pull off a hero the film needed. When we needed a Steve McQueen or a James Dean, we end up with a Tab Hunter or a Troy Donahue. Pare is not terrible, but he's not what the film needed. Still, the music, the 50s/80s production design, the strong cast (minus Pare), and that awesome climactic sledgehammer fight are terrific and enough to make this film something of a minor classic in my mind. Overall, this hybrid musical/comic book/1950s juvenile diligent picture/action film somehow manages to overcome it's shortcomings to remain worth watching and deserving of cult status. And if you needed to know, as I finish writing this review, I now have "I Can Dream About You" stuck in my head. FUN FACT! A low budget unofficial sequel called "Road to Hell" was made in 2008 with Pare not as Tom Cody, but as Cody, and Valkenburgh playing "Sister," and the Ellen Aim character now called Ellen Dream. Hill has no involvement in this spiritual sequel, but he had originally planned for there being a series of Tom Cody stories (a plan that was scuttled after the film's disappointing box office returns).
May 2, 2018
Streets of fire has some great music from the 80s and is overall very entertaining.
It has some fun action scenes that are awesome.
February 18, 2018
One of my faves! Diane Lane is gorgeous and Michael Pare who played the tough student on the television series The Greatest American Hero is super cool! I have seen this movie several times and I also own the soundtrack.
September 20, 2017
With a messy script and haphazard story, Streets of Fire is a blast of fun no doubt, but is it really worth the effort?
March 5, 2017
For people with vision & intelligence it was one of THE BEST movies of 1984. Just look at how Micheal Pare',Diana Lane & William DeFore have advanced in their careers !
½ November 22, 2016
Interesting? Could have been something more. Some great actors in some of their earliest roles; Lane, Dafoe, Moranis

But...this is ALSO a great @HDTGM classic ð???
½ July 6, 2016
Culturally significant '80s film of a dystopian 1950's with one of the best soundtracks of all time in film.. and.. a sledgehammer battle!
½ June 2, 2016
Just a lot of fun, and a terrific musical coda "Tonight Is What It Means to Be Young".
May 29, 2016
"Streets of Fire" is little more than a ninety-minute long music video (sonically, I mean), and that's what I like best about it. Described as "A Rock & Roll Fable" in its opening credits and in its advertisements, it's unapologetic in its sound and its fury - it's an exercise in style unafraid of its insubstantiality. It sets out to be an orgy of visual and atmospheric electricity and does so with creative sanguineness that works much more often than it doesn't. I'm not so sure the film's story is as incendiary as its aesthetic voluptuousness, but in the scope of a said rock and roll fable, the absence of a sturdy storyline is excusable.
Co-written (with Larry Gross) and directed by Walter Hill, one of the most undervalued filmmakers of the 1970s and '80s, "Streets of Fire" stars Michael Paré as Tom Cody, an ex-soldier hired to rescue his former girlfriend, Ellen (Diane Lane), a rock singer whom has been kidnapped by a gaggle of vicious bikers. Aided by McCoy (Amy Madigan), a tough-as-nails street tough, and Billy Fish (Rick Moranis), Ellen's current lover, salvation seems eminent, considering the hardened scrappiness that backs the trio. But because the bikers, known to most as The Bombers (led by a young Willem Dafoe), are wired with inherent brutality that turns patience into an unheard-of virtue, one can only hope that our heroes can find victory in this race against time.
And while "Streets of Fire's" race against time isn't quite the pulse-pounding adventure we'd like it to be - it's too in love with its attitude and its characters to put all its attention onto concocting tense thrills - the film, nonetheless, is a memorable one because its images are so stunning, because its swagger is so tangible. Hill's impertinence is something to behold: just look at the way he captures characteristics of the 1950s, the 1980s, and a dystopian future, and how he integrates the greatest components of the film noir, the musical, and the ballsy action movie with shameless enthusiasm. Look and tone is what he's after, and Hill, fortunately, has the lusty envisioning necessary to pull off such daring.
I do wish its elite imagery were matched by a suspenseful story - its performers, especially the campily rough Paré and the tough-talking Madigan, are deserving of material more indebted to them than to their surroundings - but when a movie is as splendidly shot as "Streets of Fire" is, it's difficult to nitpick through faults when it all was never meant to be classified as high entertainment. The movie wants to be optically stimulating and appealing to youthful fantasy, and its proficiency is something to behold.
½ May 28, 2016
Such an awesome fantasy. Michael Pare is the genuine bad ass, as usual. Still love the ending.
Super Reviewer
½ May 7, 2016
It was conceived as a "movie about visuals" but never mind, the music is the only great thing in it - especially in the exciting opening and closing scenes -, since the script is a colossal piece of crap with no structure, the dialogue is simply awful and the performances are pathetic.
½ March 11, 2016
I got a "The Warriors" vibe off of this, unsurprising that it's directed by Walter Hill who did that film too. Streets Of Fire is a film with a unique setting that's a cross between the 50's in production design and wardrobe and 80's in music and character personalities. A popular rockstar female is kidnapped by a ruthless gang, and her ex-boyfriend tough hero Cody returns home, and takes care of business HIS way. Michael Pare's acting isn't always in top form, coming off Stallone-ish in terms of dumbing down dialogue and a bit wooden, but there's something about his careefree nature and hiding emotion in favor of looking tough that makes his character so cool and admirable. The film doesn't break any ground, but it does stand out for having a unique production design and some solid, even if straightforward action. The music sequences stretch a bit long, but otherwise Streets Of Fire is a cultish flick that's worth a look for 80's cult movie people and to see The Warriors with a bit more a thicker story and 80's touch.
January 4, 2016
An absolute masterpiece, and my favourite action film in terms of aesthetic (here expressed by a great interaction of art direction and photography) : Hill brilliantly stages a hard boiled, Frank Miller-like yarn with Michael Paré asthe Mrlowesque antihero and Diane Lane as the femme fatale/singer. Everybody's perfectly cast here (and Hill's bold as usual in getting not so poular actors for the leads), the songs are great, so are the cars and the action.
It would have been 1984 Oscar pick for six awards at least : picture, directing, original screenplay, cinematography, art direction, original song (I can deam about you), and I would have considered it for editing too.
December 6, 2015
Extraña y confusa... divertida e interesante.
½ August 26, 2015
Ry Cooder, Walter Hill and Willem Defoe, what's not to like!! film bombed on its release, not sure why, enjoyed watching it again last night
August 21, 2015
My head knows this thing is atrocious but it just pushes all my buttons. My favorite guilty pleasure, and it should be yours too.
½ August 4, 2015
This movie...it's as if the 50's and the 80's had a love child, and it that child was William Defoe, channeling Kiefer Sutherland's David from the Lost Boys plus Edward Cullen...and then they gave him crack. If you thought the man was creepy before, there's a particular scene with latex overalls and fire that just cranks it up to 11.

Great movie if you love the 80's. The visuals are awesome, a combination of 50's scenery and cars mixed with tons of neon and 80's punk dress/music. Plot is so-so -the concept is straightforward but halfway through the movie it turns into a live action series of TV Tropes (which are fun, don't get me wrong, but derail the plot a bit). There are numerous scenes where the actors are clearly reading rather than performing their lines, and there's no chemistry between the male lead and his damsel in distress. But seeing Rick Moranis hamming it up as a sniveling business manager, Bill Paxton in a bit part as a wimpy barkey, Amy Madigan as a surprisingly interesting Action Girl and a young William Defoe being a creepy creeper of all creeps is more than worth it.

If you want a movie that will trigger 80's nostalgia and is a good romp to watch with a beer, this is it. If you're looking for art, you probably want something else. But this movie is what gave us the 80's hit song 'I Can Dream About You', and for that alone I give it top marks. )
July 15, 2015
A great movie that is greatly shot with a decent amount of action and an amazing soundtrack
April 15, 2015
Great soundtrack, lively characters and cliché as all get out!
½ April 13, 2015
Not that much fun....great soundtrack but surprisingly uninteresting.
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