To Live and Die in L.A.


To Live and Die in L.A.

Critics Consensus

With coke fiends, car chases, and Wang Chung galore, To Live and Die in L.A. is perhaps the ultimate '80s action/thriller.



Total Count: 33


Audience Score

User Ratings: 10,492
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To Live and Die in L.A. Photos

Movie Info

William Friedkin's crime thriller, based on a book by U.S. Secret Service agent Gerald Petievich, concerns an arrogant Secret Service official who wants to get his man at any price. Willem Dafoe plays Eric Masters, an ultra-smooth counterfeiter who has managed to sidestep the police for years. He is so up-front about his dealings, in fact, that when some undercover agents try to make a deal with him at his health club, Eric tells them, "I've been coming to this gym three times a week for five years. I'm an easy guy to find. People know they can trust me." But when young and eager Secret Service agent Richard Chance (William L. Petersen) finds out that his partner has been cold-bloodedly murdered by Eric, he trains his relentlessness upon capturing Eric -- whether it means robbery, murder, or exploiting his friends and associates. As Chance erases the dividing line between good and evil, he drags his new partner John Vukovich (John Pankow) and Ruth Lanier (Darlanne Fluegel), an ex-con, down into the maelstrom with him.


William L. Petersen
as Richard Chance
Willem Dafoe
as Eric Masters
John Pankow
as Vukovich
Robert Downey Sr.
as Thomas Bateman
Valentin de Vargas
as Judge Filo Cedillo
Val DeVargas
as Judge Filo Cedillo
Michael Chong
as Thomas Ling
Jackelyn Giroux
as Claudia Leith
Michael Zand
as Terrorist
Bobby Bass
as FBI Agent
Dar Robinson
as FBI Agent
Katherine M. Louie
as Ticket Agent
Edward Harrell
as Airport Guard
Gilbert Espinoza
as Utro's bartender
Jack Cota
as Agent
Shirley J. White
as Airline Passenger
Gerald H. Brownlee
as Visiting Room Guard
David M. DuFriend
as Tower Guard
Ruben Garcia
as Inmate Guard
Joe Duran
as Prison Guard
Bufort L. McClerkins Jr.
as prison assailant
Gregg G. Dandridge
as Prison Assailant
Donny Williams
as Rice's Friend
Earnest Hart Jr.
as Rice's Friend
Thomas F. Duffy
as 2nd Suspect
Gerald Petievich
as Special Agent
Mark Gash
as Himself
Pat McGroarty
as Criminal
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Critic Reviews for To Live and Die in L.A.

All Critics (33) | Top Critics (6) | Fresh (30) | Rotten (3)

Audience Reviews for To Live and Die in L.A.

  • Mar 21, 2013
    Explicit business depth on both sides of the crime drama about counterfeiting. How original. The chase sequence on the wrong side of the freeway has thrills too.
    Max G Super Reviewer
  • Nov 29, 2011
    William Friedkin is a fantastic director. He can surely make a bad film, but when he's working with a good script, magic can be made. "To Live and Die in L.A." is nothing remarkable in turns of plot development, although there are a fair share of twists and turns, but the ferocity with which it is directed is astounding. Such an involving crime film.
    Stephen E Super Reviewer
  • Oct 28, 2011
    Friedkin gives us one of the best Crime Dramas I have ever seen! This is such a great movie and I cannot believe it has taken me this long to see it!
    Jason R Super Reviewer
  • Oct 23, 2011
    William Friedkin is a fantastic director. He sets up the entire scene like a painter, adding detail to every single inch. You can always find something new in each shot. It's artistry like that that mesmerizes the hell out of me. I was also deeply impressed by the pure complexity of To Live and Die in L.A. At the beginning of the famous car chase scene, there's this shot that rises from Chance's car, up along the highway, meets up with the red car in pursuit of Chance, then moves back to Chance's car. And all of this is going on while the cars are going at top speeds. Maybe I'm just biased towards crime films. Crime is a genre that typically impresses me. The characters are always easy to get involved with, the storyline is typically riveting, and all of the technical aspects are usually right on par with everything else. William Friedkin is a director that has mastered this genre, and I've only seen two of his films. I think I might add him to my "Favorite Directors" list.
    Stephen E Super Reviewer

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