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Review Fear City (1984) "Martial Artist versus Boxer"

genre: drama, crime, thriller





Note:

Normally I try to avoid spoilers. And when I do it usually is as minimal as possible. In this case I am not revealing all too much since technically this isn't a real thriller.

It is hard to find real positive reviews of Fear City (1984). And often that is not a good thing. For the most part I agree that it is heavily flawed but isn't half as bad as a lot of reviewers would claim. The most crucial thing that has to be understood is that Fear City wrongfully is being advertised as a thriller. While there is a serial killer running around making victims it's not the main plot. The main plot is an ex boxer (Tom Berenger) who happens to be a mafiosi coming to terms with the death of his opponent after he beat him in a coma during a match. Throughout the movie we see this ex boxer struggling with that fact. Everything else, even the serial killer storyline seems to be a sub plot. Abel Ferrara in one of his earlier films makes it even more difficult for himself by trying to do far too much. Ex boxer plot, serial killer plot, triangle love story, Billy Dee Williams as a though as nails cop trying to convince his partner that criminals need to be locked up in social commentary style, Michael V. Gazzo not happy with the service provided by Berenger and Scalia and some brief Mob affairs. Which in the end only causes confusion and distraction. The biggest flaw he made was making the boxer plot more prominent than the serial killer one. Especially since the latter obviously is more interesting. I think anyone who decides to watch Fear City is expecting the focus to be on this murderer and attempts into catching him. None of that here. Instead the viewer is introduced to the night life of New York which is interesting at first but soon gets tiresome. Since it all detracts from the story lines that should matter. At one point the main character (after a good talk with his boss) realizes what he needs to do which results in one very interesting but short fight between the killer and him. Martial Artist versus Boxer. Which does lead to a decent conclusion. If one is willing to overlook the silliness of this Rockyesque solution that is chosen. But did he need this long to get to this point? While I appreciated the effort it really did not help adding depth to a character we know very little about. It felt like there were multiple movies in the making and the goal was to pick the one with the best plot. Then they realized none of them were convincing and decided to combine all the plots. Resulting in a movie that is forgettable at best. In all honesty even with the lack of tension throughout there is something beautiful hidden in Fear City that prevents me for completely disliking it. Maybe the cast or the Eighties factor has something to do with that. 

So for the few that love that period, aren't too demanding and willing to overlook some flaws in direction Fear City does have something to offer. Even if it is minimal.



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