C. Thomas Howell directed and stars in this direct-to-video action film, a convoluted crime caper centered around some stolen diamonds.
Johnny Dean (Howell) is a cook at a lonely desert diner where nothing ever happens--until a gangster carrying a satchel of stolen diamonds dies at a table. When two rival groups of thugs arrive looking for the jewels, Johnny takes off with the loot and waitress Becky (Teri Ann Linn). Johnny, who
has served time for petty juvenile crimes, has grown tired of flipping burgers for a living and sees the diamonds as his ticket to the good life. He looks up an old crony, Dice (Rick Shapiro), who agrees to help him fence the diamonds. Dice unwittingly leads Johnny into an ambush by the two groups
who are after the diamonds--one led by Italian mob boss DePalma (Michael Russo), and the other by black gangster Felix (Leon). Dice is killed in the crossfire, but Johnny and Becky manage to escape with the diamonds, which they hide on Dice's body and later try to reclaim at the morgue. The body
is cremated before anyone can get to the diamonds, and both Johnny and Felix chase after the morgue truck in an attempt to get Dice's diamond-studded ashes. Johnny and Becky, both badly wounded, discover that the real diamonds have been hidden in their trunk all along--they had unknowingly planted
phonies on Dice's body. They make it to a desolate cafe and die at the table. The waitress and cook discover the diamonds and take off on their own adventure.
It's never quite clear whether PURE DANGER is intended as comedy or drama. The video box art and copy suggest a straight action-adventure, but the dialogue is jokey, and Howell mugs his way through the film. Then there's comedian Carrot Top as a reckless truck driver, further evidence of the
film's comic aspirations. Trouble is, the film is never actually funny, unless hiding the loot in a corpse's anal cavity constitutes hilarity. The script by Joseph John Barmettler and William Applegate, Jr. borders on the truly tasteless, and features too many criminals to keep track of.
Among the players, only Linn stands out as a credible performer. Howell must have been too preoccupied with his directing duties to take the time to craft a three-dimensional character. Leon is suitably sinister as the seemingly indestructible Felix. Patricia Scanlon, as the morgue receptionist,
makes her minor scene the film's best.
The film features several violent car-chase scenes filmed in the mountains and canyons of Los Angeles County. Viewers familiar with the area will wonder how the thugs can leave a Vegas casino, hop into their cars and chase each other through LA's Laurel Canyon. (Graphic violence, extensive nudity,sexual situations, adult situations, extreme profanity)
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- Released: 1996
- Rating: R
- Review: C. Thomas Howell directed and stars in this direct-to-video action film, a convoluted crime caper centered around some stolen diamonds. Johnny Dean (Howell) is a cook at a lonely desert diner where nothing ever happens--until a gangster carrying a satchel… (more)