Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. USA, 1981. Universal Pictures, Martin Poll Productions, The Production Company, Herb Nanas Productions, Layton Productions. Story by David Shaber, Paul Sylbert, Screenplay by David Shaber. Cinematography by James A. Contner. Produced by Martin Poll. Music by Keith Emerson. Production Design by Peter S. Larkin. Costume Design by Robert De Mora, John Falabella. Film Editing by Stanford C. Allen, Christopher Holmes.
Sylvester Stallone is excellent as an undercover cop who loves cleaning up the streets of New York in disguise (he has a penchant for dressing up as women that is quite humorous). He is resentful when he and his partner (Billy Dee Williams) are pulled in on a special project, helping take down an international terrorist (Rutger Hauer) who has appeared in the Big Apple and is threatening some bad business. Despite the fact that their new boss (Nigel Davenport) doesn’t think city cops are tough enough for the job, these guys do their best to catch a man who, thanks to his recent facial reconstructive surgery, can’t even be recognized from photographs. A few exciting sequences, including a chase through a nightclub and a hostage situation aboard a cable car, are the highlights of a solid police thriller that is marred only by its trying to have things both ways, diluting the gritty Serpico feeling it’s going for by indulging in the glamour of letting the great Sly be a mythical action hero. Lindsay Wagner is wasted in a supporting role as Stallone’s estranged wife in a sub-plot that feels like they forgot to completely edit it out, while Persis Khambatta has a few fun moments as Hauer’s associate.