Lowball

  • 2003
  • 1 HR 39 MIN
  • R
  • Action, Crime

Writer-director Demian Lichtenstein pilfers gangster-genre cliches wholesale for his tale of Manhattan's criminal element. Coked-up cop John (Peter Greene) regularly takes risks that jeopardize the life of his rookie partner, Eddie (Erik Schrody). When John rips off a drug-dealer in a shoot-out, seven felons end up dead and John both lies about the facts...read more

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Reviewed by Robert Pardi
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Writer-director Demian Lichtenstein pilfers gangster-genre cliches wholesale for his tale of Manhattan's criminal element. Coked-up cop John (Peter Greene) regularly takes risks that jeopardize the life of his rookie partner, Eddie (Erik Schrody). When John rips off a drug-dealer in a shoot-out, seven felons end up dead and John both lies about the facts to his long-suffering chief and hangs onto the cartel's drugs and money. John claims he wants to patch things up with his estranged wife, but he's not about to give up his blow. Unfortunately, John has stepped on the toes of drug-lord Bruce (Don Leslie), an expert at exacting revenge. Instead of hurting John's wife and child, shifty Bruce kidnaps John's sister, suburbanite Paula (Amber Smith); her captors get her hooked on drugs and sexually abuse her. In exchange for Paula's return, Bruce orders John to snatch Nicky G. (Nicholas Guccione), hoping the kidnapping will smoke out Nicky's brother, Tony G. (Anthony Guccione), Bruce's main competitor in the New York-New Jersey area. As a show of good faith, John also has to kill Tony G. for Bruce. John stashes the abducted Nicky G. with some African-American gangsters he knows, but mobster bodyguards annihilate John's allies and reclaim Nicky G. John takes stock of his situation and throws in his lot Tony G., but Bruce is a step ahead of him: He kidnaps and tortures Eddie, leaving John desperately looking for a way to rescue his partner and his sister. Even without the tedious car chases and unexciting tough-guy confrontations, Greene's mannered performance — atypical of this usually reliable actor — makes it hard to surrender to this cliched crime picture's limited charms. The influence of executive producer and adult-magazine entrepreneur Bob Guccione is evident throughout; Lichtenstein consistently pays more attention to sequences involving Paula's S&M sex torture than to the larger story of loyalty, betrayal and revenge.

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