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Flashfire Reviews

A lively but run-of-the-mill cop tale that takes some above-average talents and gives them little chance to shine. LA arson squad detective Art Cantrell (Tom Mason) spots Paulie (Gregory Millar), who's wanted for setting a recent spate of fires, and a burly, bald-headed thug (Ric Drasin) checking out a barrio building. The building is later set on fire, and Paulie is chased and nearly captured by Cantrell's partner Jack (Billy Zane), squad member Sherwin (Louis Giambalvo), and squad chief Capt. Durand (Louis Gossett Jr.) That night, Cantrell is murdered by the bald thug and a masked gunman while he is visiting his prostitute girlfriend Lisa Cates (Kristen Minter). The killers come after Lisa as well. After they murder a friend who is sheltering her, she contacts Jack, who has been moved to a desk job to protect him against fellow officers who resent his testimony against a corrupt cop. Jack shields Lisa and pursues the case, despite Durand's orders to lay off. He locates the terrified Paulie, who reveals that the mysterious bald gunman is ace fire investigator Kraus, who has been telling Paulie which buildings to torch. (Cantrell was killed because he recognized Kraus.) When she overhears Sherwin on a phone call, Lisa recognizes his voice as that of the masked gunman who shot Cantrell. Durand attempts to frame Jack for Cantrell's murder. Hiding on his father's yacht, Jack and Lisa are stalked by Sherwin, whom Jack kills with a flare gun, and Durand, who is killed by Lisa. FLASHFIRE's largest problem lies in the excessively improbable script. Although it adequately sets up its complicated (if cliched) storyline, it falls apart in the last reel, particularly in Gossett's vaguely motivated switch to a bad guy (it has something to do with him losing his life savings in one of the burned buildings). Veteran director Elliot Silverstein (CAT BALLOU, A MAN CALLED HORSE) does efficient work with the action sequences, which are nimble and suspenseful. But he slows the pace to a crawl for a romantic subplot, and never gets back up to speed for the finale (which is reminiscent of THE BIG EASY). The acting is diligent; Zane and Minter are particularly good, matched by the veteran Gossett and Giambalvo--all are much better than is required for a film that, despite the narrative fuss, is quite conventional. Sporting excellent technical credits, the movie, shot in LA, was released direct-to-video in 1995. (Violence, nudity, sexual situations, profanity.)