Every so often, this space will feature a segment in which I go into graphic detail on a truly underrated film experience that I'd like to share with both my readers. This first entry really means a lot to me; I caught it at 4 a.m. last night on USA. The 1993 thriller Judgment Night.
Four buddies, played by (are you ready?) Emilio Estevez, Cuba Gooding Jr., Stephen Dorff, and Jeremy Piven, are going to Chicago to catch a boxing match. Along the way, they take a wrong turn into a bad neighborhood, witness a murder, and run for their lives from a pack of gangsters led by (are you ready?) Denis Leary.
Phenomenal. Seriously, if you haven't seen the film, that cast must look utterly atrocious. It isn't. All four, plus Leary, peaked as actors here. Estevez absolutely kills me in this film. I've praised this guy before, but honestly what happened to his career is an absolute travesty. He's made more underrated classics (St. Elmo's Fire, Stakeout, National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon 1, the Mighty Ducks franchise, this film, and the brilliant Men at Work) than any actor I can think of. And yet, everyone rags on the guy. Is it because he's 5'2” and tried to headline action movies? Was it the whole screaming and breaking the glass scene in Breakfast Club that turned everyone off? Whatever. Anyway, the whole cast is solid, particularly Leary. I've never been that big a fan of his comedy (honestly, the whole obnoxious angry schtick should be reserved for poorly written columns on a second-rate college humor Web site). With that said, Leary kills me here. And nothing moistens my crotch more than the thought of a predominantly black and Latino neighborhood in Chicago being ruled by an Irish guy from Boston. And people wonder why the Sox won a title before the Cubs.
Easy. Jeremy Piven trapped on the roof with the baddies, and trying to pay his way out of trouble, culminating with Leary doing the whole "Hey sounds cool with me, oops I'll throw your ass off the roof." I love when movies do that.
The way Leary dies at the end always bothered me. (Oops, if you haven't seen the movie yet, don't read the previous sentence. Well, I guess if you think a mid-90's Die Hard-ripoff wouldn't end with the bad guy getting killed, you probably can't read anyway.) Anyway, it's such a lame death, Estevez throwing Leary off a loft and down a flight of stairs. Although, it did lead to Emilio busting out the great I'm-about-to-kill-the-bad-guy line: "You're on your own, pal!" Other than little Andy Barclay telling Chucky: "This is the end, FRIEND!" before torching the little fucker, my favorite line ever when killing a bad guy. If I were a hero and about to kill the bad guy, I'd probably go with: "Don't forget your duck sauce!" But that only works if I kill an Asian. And let's not rule that out.
It's a tie, between Leary's Fallon going: "Attention, food shoppers. We have a special over at the frozen food department, dead meat! " and Estevez's Frank yelling to dead Leary: "Don't ever call me ‘Francis.'" God I love this movie.
Seriously, one of the best thrillers of the 90's, and nobody takes it seriously because that cast is utterly hysterical. You could make "Face/Off 2" with Carrot Top and Scott Peterson and people would take that more seriously. It's ridiculous. Give it a rent. You won't regret it. And if you do, you don't appreciate the Estevez nearly enough.