Yes kids, it's fun to be in a street gang! You defend your turf, kill other punks and maybe get killed yourself--a heroic and honorable death. That's the message of STREET SOLDIERS, an entry from the aptly named Action Brothers Productions, a Korean-American outfit responsible in the past
for such contributions as SILENT ASSASSINS and NINJA TURF.
The heroes are a preppie street gang called the Tigers, who, in their trademark orange-and-white high school jackets, look like Archie and Jughead's homeboys. The Tigers enforce more or less of a truce on the streets, until the release from prison of Priest (Jeff Rector), the glowering,
malevolent leader of a dreaded bunch called the JPs, so villainous that their faces are always menacingly lit from below. They now plan to conquer the city with help from Priest's mute jail pal Tok (Jason Hwang), an expert chopsocky fighter.
The Tok-trained marauders make dog food out of the Tigers, whose commander-in-chief Max (Johnathan Gorman) appeals to local martial arts master Han (Jun Chong) to tutor his own gang. Han, a pacifist, refuses to lend his skills to the cause of violence--until his Tiger nephew is murdered by the
JPs. Then, of course, he's out for blood, and puts the remaining Tigers through martial arts boot camp in preparation for a lethal showdown with Priest and his killer congregation.
Every once in a while a police detective (Frank Novak) shows up to investigate the havoc, but he's invariably brushed off by the Tigers. "We're the law now!" proclaims one of the good-guy delinquents, a sentiment wholly endorsed by the film. That should make any sensible viewer's skin crawl. So
should a subplot in which Max introduces his upscale young boss Troy (David Homb) to the manifold joys of gang life, like romance with hot young Catholic-school rebel Julie (Katherine Armstrong), who happens to be Priest's estranged moll. "Where's my bitch?!" demands the punk warlord when Julie
fails to welcome him back from the stir.
Jeff Rector's performance as Priest is a real piece of work. Bellowing his lines in a raspy stage-whisper, affecting a fixed maniacal gaze, Rector seems to be auditioning for membership in Martin Sheen's thespian family. As Tok, the massive Hwang is made ridiculous by a stupefying gimmick:
throughout the flick he carries a rubbery spitting cobra that squeaks like a rodent and squirts venom at Tok's opponents during fights. Martial-arts devotees may be inured to such absurdities, but even they could get restless waiting through all the subplots for the climactic man-to-man combat.
Even if one overlooks its usefulness as a recruiting film for youth gangs, STREET SOLDIERS suffers from lamely predictable plotting, feeble stabs at humor and dim dialogue in which characters repeatedly threaten to shove things up their antagonists' body cavities. (Excessive violence, profanity,sexual situations.)
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- Released: 1991
- Rating: R
- Review: Yes kids, it's fun to be in a street gang! You defend your turf, kill other punks and maybe get killed yourself--a heroic and honorable death. That's the message of STREET SOLDIERS, an entry from the aptly named Action Brothers Productions, a Korean-Americ… (more)