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Forgotten Friday Flick – “Shakedown”

To celebrate the review this week of Marco Siedelmann’s very cool and comprehensive B-movie book titled The Untold, In-Depth, Outrageously True Story of Shapiro Glickenhaus Entertainment, it seemed right to reminisce about the gold old SGE days by highlighting one of their biggest 80’s hit – welcome to Forgotten Friday Flick!  We’re heading into tough guy territory this week for a rough and tumble tale about some dirty cops who are putting the squeeze on everybody.  It’s up to two lone moralistic buddies – the best money can’t buy – to seek the truth and kick some serious ass.  When things go wrong it’s time for a…Shakedown!

Public Defender Roland Dalton is a man who is about to escape his seemingly desolate life.  He’s engaged to a gorgeous gal, his soon to be father-in-law has set him up with a lush job on Wall Street and he’s looking forward to a quieter future.  But a strange murder case involving a drug dealer shooting a plain clothes cop in supposed self-defense case comes across his desk and being a self proclaimed creature of habit Dalton decides to dig deeper.  He, along with his equally burnt out cop buddy Richie Marks, soon find themselves in way over their heads butting horns with everyone from low level street scum to fellow NYPD police in a case where nothing is as it seems.

While there is nothing particularly original about the story behind Shakedown (also known as Blue Jean Cop internationally), what is impressively unique is everything else.  From the array of spectacular practical stunts like sliding down light posts into the middle of New York streets and roller coasters flying off the tracks at high speeds to the musical use of Jimi Hendrix (“definitely not heavy metal!”) and Red Hot Chili Peppers to add audio savvy, helmer – and former SGE chairman – James Glickenhaus takes his standard story to new highs by dazzling with impressive eye candy that all but guarantees one kick ass action yarn.  Not that his characters aren’t without their own sultry style (the heat between Roland Dalton and his former flame attorney Susan Cantrell is sizzling stuff!), but what Shakedown does visually under the watchful eye of Glickenhaus it does particularly well and elevates it from similar film fray.

Glickenhaus’s casting is also king here, as his story stage is set not just with recognizable faces, but faces of folks who can act. As the smarmy, yet noble Roland Dalton, Peter Weller brings a wonderfully smart ying to Sam Elliott’s course featured cop yang Richie Marks.  They make for a very odd couple indeed, but one that works surprisingly well.  Weller knows how to cinematically chew the scenery, especially during the enjoyable courtroom scenes alongside the likes of smoldering legal eagle Patricia Charbonneau (she and Weller were made for each other!) and drug dealing defendant Richard Brooks.  (Plus there’s even some nagging wife ala Blanche Baker, early slimy John C. McGinley and despicable drug lord via Antonio ‘Huggy Bear’ Fargas to boot!)  Regarding his surly-voiced contributions, Sam Elliot holds his action own in both the areas of physical prowess (the chase and coaster fight is great stuff!) and wry delivery (‘I know what you’re thinking – you’re young and fast. I’m old and slow!’) to make for an unkempt but uncorrupt cop who is easy to root for.  Together though Weller and Elliot bring both acting cred and a quirky chemistry to the film and besides Glickenhaus’s affinity for amazing action (okay, the hanging on the plane tire is a tad cheesy looking, but Elliott still makes it look so cool!) it’s what makes Shakedown something to seek out.

It’s not surprising that Shakedown, containing big practical action set pieces and enlisting two solid performers with only modicum of action experience, was a gamble taken by a smaller studio like SGE.  But it’s also not surprisingly that Shakedown turned out to be one of their biggest hits for the same reasons. When all the right elements hit, despite what all educated naysayers swear won’t work, that’s one winning wager that money can’t buy.

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I'm a passionate and opinionated film critic/movie journalist with over 20 years of experience in writing about film - now exclusively for WhySoBlu.com. Previous sites include nine years at Starpulse.com where I created Forgotten Friday Flick back in 2011, before that as Senior Entertainment Editor for The213.net and 213 Magazine, as well as a staff writer for JoBlo.com. My other love is doing cool events for the regular guy with my company Flicks For Fans alongside my friend, partner and Joblo.com writer James "Jimmy O" Oster. Check us out at www.Facebook.com/FlicksForFans.

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