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Streets of Fire - Movie Review

Updated on September 28, 2010

When "Streets of Fire" was released back in 1984 I am sure it was made as a serious movie, yet watching it now it not only feels unbelievably cheesy but also quite funny. Pretty much everything about it, the fashions, music, action and so on all borders on being corny and over the top. But in a strange way "Streets of Fire" is still entertaining, just not as intended. You end up wanting to watch to see how cliché and stupid the storyline will become, how over the top the action will be and how the likes of Diane Lane, Michael Paré, Willem Dafoe and Rick Moranis get on making cheesy dialogue work.

During her concert, Rock diva Ellen Aim (Diane Lane) is kidnapped by the local biker gang lead by the nasty Raven (Willem Dafoe). Fortunately Ellen's ex boyfriend and mercenary Tom Cody (Michael Paré) is back in town and is persuaded to rescue her. With Ellen's manager Billy Fish (Rick Moranis) and tomboy sidekick McCoy (Amy Madigan) along to help out they head out on their rescue mission.

I wish I could say that "Streets of Fire" has some remarkable, intelligent storyline but it is as cliché as it comes with this handsome mercenary saving the day, taking on the bad guys in various choreographed fight scenes toped off with you guessed it a romantic sub plot. The only thing which gets close to being remarkable is the special effects, which despite the age still look pretty stunning. Put simply "Streets of Fire" is no different to many a movie made in the 80s and if you think of "Escape from New York" then you will know sort of what to expect. But although most definitely cliché, the whole corniness of "Streets of Fire" makes it all surprisingly entertaining.

At the start of "Streets of Fire" we are told that it is "another time and place", what time and place? Well it looks a little like 50s America where someone has gone over board with neon lighting but the fashion and the music has a touch of 80s which makes it a rather strange time and place. As such it's hard to decide whether it's trying be retro or futuristic or just an alternate version of a bygone time. Which ever it's mean to be it's a prime example of something which is quite cheesy and laughable yet I am sure it was never intended to be when the idea was originally conceived.

Aside from the in-between setting "Streets of Fire" also proclaims to be a "Rock & Roll fable" and musically both in look and sound feels like something Meatloaf was doing back in the 80s with an almost Rock Opera feel about it. As such you have Rock diva Ellen aim belting out power ballads and although director Walter Hill for some reason has included a lot of faux concert footage Diane Lane manages to pull it off. Although saying that the actual rocks songs are as cheesy as they come and not even Diane Lane can make them feel like serious songs. It also doesn't help matters that whilst predominantly a rock soundtrack there are also plenty of Bluesy numbers thrown in for good measure making it feel slightly wrong.
Talking of Rock diva Ellen Aim the casting of Rick Moranis as her manager Billy Fish just doesn't work. It feels wrong watching Moranis trying to play it straight in a movie which is now more funny than serious. But it feels even more wrong that he is also Ellen's lover because when you have the hot and sexy Diane Lane with the fun but slightly geeky Rick Moranis it just doesn't look right and it's far from being believable.

Plus of course there is the whole macho action side to "Streets of Fire" with Michael Paré cast as Tom Cody. It's a stereotypical character, the loner tough guy who saves the day but in an amusing way Paré seems to be imitating Sylvester Stallone, or at least sounds strangely like the "Rocky" star when churning out some distinctly cheesy dialogue. And to add to the whole stereotype thing Cody ends up having a sidekick in the tough talking tomboy McCoy played by Amy Madigan. The pairing of Paré and Madigan isn't a bad one and thanks to the amount of fire dialogue they have to spout it's quite an amusing pairing.

But what tops all of this off are the bad guys, a gang of motorbike riding meanies dressed in leather and latex lead by Willem Dafoe as Raven. They are very much your stereotypical pipe wielding bad guys but the outfits, the leather and latex makes them almost camp, especially in the case of Willem Dafoe who looks so white he could have been auditioning for a part in a "Twilight" movie. Again I am sure the intentions back in the 80s when "Streets of Fire" was made was for them to be frightening but now they are just another one of the intentionally funny elements.

All in all "Streets of Fire" is a bad movie if you watch it now in the hope of some gritty 80s action with a quasi futuristic/ nostalgia element. But if you allow all the corny dialogue and cheesy soundtrack to win you over it become unintentionally very entertaining and amusing.

Streets of Fire Trailer


Title: Streets of Fire
Year: 1984
Length: 90
Cert: 15
Director: Walter Hill
Cast: Michael Paré, Diane Lane, Rick Moranis, Amy Madigan, Willem Dafoe, Deborah Van Valkenburgh, Bill Paxton

About Me

Andy Webb writes movies reviews covering everything from the classics through to modern. Visit The Movie Scene To read more movie reviews by Andy Webb.


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    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 7 years ago from East Coast, United States

      Ha! Your review of Streets of Fire, how awful it was, makes me want to see it! Sometimes I just need to see a lousy movie and can enjoy as much as one that is actually good!