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L.A. Vice

L.A. Vice (1989)

October. 01,1989
| Action Thriller Crime

Detective Jon Louroy Chance investigates a string of murders in Los Angeles and uncovers a ruthless kidnapping scheme.


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L.A. VICE is a straight to video action thriller from B-movie specialist director Joseph Merhi. This is one of his cheapest works, a straight-up tale of kidnapping and revenge, as a dedicated cop goes after a woman who had been kidnapped alongside her boyfriend. Cult actor William Smith co-stars as a good-guy police captain with a fine line in kicking ass. This film offers bottom-of-the-barrel production values, lots of rugged filming of Los Angeles at night, the requisite back alley and strip club settings, and plenty of goons being blown away in violent shoot-outs. It's hardly high art, and the director has done better.

Comeuppance Reviews

Chance (LHJ) is a Los Angeles detective who shoots first and asks questions later. When Johnson (Angel), a wealthy newspaper magnate's daughter is kidnapped by mobsters who demand millions for her return, the FBI - and Johnson himself - call Chance in on the case. Requesting he have a partner for this operation, he turns to the "only man he can trust" - his now retired Captain, Joe Wilkes (Smith). Wilkes now lives a quiet, peaceful life in a very rural area. He has a Native American friend named Bear (Coviare), and all is right with the world - until Chance shows up asking for his help.Shortly thereafter, tired of all the bureaucratic red tape in the LAPD, Chance quits in anger. They were really cramping his style. Johnson hires him on a private basis - so now Chance is rogue and can do whatever he wants. Will his renegade ways land him in hot water? Or will he, perChance, win the day? Here we have a fairly early PM outing, with all the familiar names behind the camera we all know and love. PM improved on many levels later in its career - but L.A. Vice is like an early album by a band that later got vastly more sophisticated, or even early seasons of The Simpsons or South Park - by later standards they seem primitive, but they were just starting out and had the drive to succeed, and luckily no one pulled the plug so they were allowed to develop and get better. Sure, this movie has a rock-bottom budget look to it, but it's more entertaining than many higher-budget productions.We always love seeing LHJ, and he's great as the cooler-than-cool cop with tons of smart-aleck comments. He's too radical for red tape, too badass for bureaucracy, and he lets his marksmanship do the talking. He truly is a rockin' dude with a bad attitude. We also love William Smith, and the two guys make an interesting pair - Smith is gruff and gravelly (to the point of comical incoherence), while LHJ is slick and streetwise. Regardless of Smith's occasional unintelligibility, he has a great screen presence and it's always a treat to watch him.Jastereo Coviare, who appears in pretty much all the LHJ PM's (that's right, Chance comes back), plays Bear with quiet aplomb (as opposed to Quietfire, 1991, we suppose). Interestingly, when Chance teams up with Bear, the whole "city cop meets rural Native American" thing is strongly reminiscent of the Lou Diamond Phillips film Renegades (1989), which came out in the same year - the magical year of 1989. LHJ and LDP should be in a movie together as cops on the edge. It could be called "Initial Danger" or something to that effect. And one more note about the cast: there's a cop on Chance's "team" with amazing hair. You'll know him when you see him. We've seen some awesome hair over the years but...wow.So, while L.A. Vice does fall prey to some of the standard low-budget pitfalls, this minor issue is more than corrected by the cast, and the PM team, who turn out an entertaining piece here.For more action insanity, please visit: comeuppancereviews.com


Meet Detective Jon Chance (Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs), an intractable cop who likes to play by his own rules only. Chance is a gun fanatic at heart. He also plays by the "laws of Chance." His methods always include pulling the trigger before reading criminals their rights. Jon Chance is yet another blatant Dirty Harry clone (complete with his own .44 Magnum.and a snide personality). Chance is his name, defiance is his game...Jon Chance becomes a one-man crusader against crime yet again. This time though, he is not working alone. This vice detective is in search of a millionaire's daughter and her boyfriend...kidnapped for an unreasonable ransom. Again, Chance refuses to cooperate with the FBI in this case. Could the FBI be somehow involved in the abductions? I do not know! I do not care either!Meanwhile, with his trustworthy though retired Police Captain Joseph Wilkes (William Smith) as backup, Chance must shoot his way through the enemy and rescue the hostages...However, when the Captain is killed in the line of duty, Chance is overwhelmed with a case of guilty conscience. He quits the police force.but luckily, he comes back to solve the case. With help from a Native American partner, Bear (Jastereo Coviare), Chance must finish the assignment...So Jon Chance and his newly found partner Bear go clubbing, hitting a local shady nightclub which serves as a facade for drug dealing, money laundering, and all sorts of miscellaneous illegal doings. The bold police officers must go undercover to bust the local mob. This organized gang is led by reputed mob boss Lucci (Joe Palese). The two cops must stop this ruthless kingpin and his cohorts including Eddie T (Josh Sailor), Johnny (Rick Munroe), and Bennie (Nick Testa). Both cops must find a way to outwit this bellicose gang...L.A. VICE is very much a mundane tale of cops & robbers. This movie has the production values of an amateur home made video. The Los Angeles setting is fairly dreary and yep, this film also has the requisite strip clubs. The story is platitudinous with lots of predictable surprises and characters who are about as three-dimensional as cardboard cut-outs. An insipid pace does not help either.L.A. VICE lacks the smooth craftiness of the PM duo's later action flicks. The action scenes are mediocre, but choreographed in a languishing way. The climactic shoot-out was fairly exciting except that it was confusing since the good guys and villains were virtually indistinguishable from one another. Perhaps due to this film's infinitesimal budget, the firepower and pyrotechnics were used only sparingly.Indeed, the filmmakers tried really hard. They have even attempted to sprinkle a nuance of inventiveness by adding an American Indian named Bear to the cast. However, "Bear" embodies all of the stereotypes seen in movies. Jastereo Coviare though gives the only noteworthy performance in this daft film as Bear. The bad guy mobsters never explain their motives, but then again, movie villains these days never justify why they have to behave in such a depraved manner...Also, the movie's synopsis claims to be about Detective Chance investigating a string of murders in L.A. This movie has no pertinence as a murder mystery.L.A. VICE lacks the flavor of most action films. There is simply no visual appeal to this bland and violently nondescript action film. There are lots of violence and blood in this movie, but it has zero personality. For the most part, this film is dangerously banal. L.A. VICE should be titled "L.A. Boredom" instead.RATING: *1/2 out of ****.