After years of just being available on DVD and Blu-Ray in other countries and regions, Shout Factory comes to the rescue to deliver fans a deluxe edition of one of the most underrated action films ever made. Something of a spiritual sequel to Walter Hill’s “The Warriors,” director Hill sets his latest gang land picture in an undisclosed period between the 20’s and 40’s in what is apparently New York. Sadly, Hill intended the film to be the first of a trilogy, but while we never got that wish, “Streets of Fire” still manages to be a single adventure rich in character and pulp appeal. Starring the incredible beautiful Diane Lane, and the fantastic Michael Pare, “Streets of Fire” is a rock and roll musical, romance, gangster, action, adventure. It has everything for mostly everyone and it gets better with every viewing.
In “Streets of Fire,” much like “The Warriors,” music is the heart and soul of the narrative that helps the characters pop out of the screen and it works wonders in his pulp action film. While the cogs of the narrative are traditional, Director Hill is able to condition them in to what feels like Tarantino long before Tarantino ever came on to direct his own pop culture hybrids. Set in a lower class atmosphere where crime and law butt heads on the streets, we meet Raven Shaddock, a vicious gang leader who, with his endless horde of violent fellow bikers begin wreaking havoc in various neighborhoods. After Shaddock falls in love with beautiful Rock singer Ellen Aim, as played by the mesmerizing Diane Lane, he kidnaps her and decides to hold her as his lover.
Anxious for some justice, local bar owner Reva Cody enlists the help of her brother Cody, a former soldier and former lover of Ellen. With an impromptu sidekick named McCoy, as played by Amy Madigan, he goes on the hunt for her and rekindles their passionate love affair. “Streets of Fire” is such an out of the box and unique hybrid of various genres and sub-genres that thankfully never feels messy or tonally uneven. That’s helped by Walter Hill’s excellent direction, as well as the injection of an otherworldly comic book aesthetic that makes “Streets of Fire” feel like a pulp novel come to life. Its exact tone Hill emphasized when bringing “The Warriors” on to the big screen. What’s even more interesting is Hill is right with the times, integrating clips of music and music videos from the world he creates, conceiving something of an MTV generation in a bygone era.
The cast are absolutely great in their respective roles, with Willem Dafoe proving to be a great, slimy villain, while Michael Pare is superb as the square jawed all American hero with a past with the film’s beauty Ellen that is far beyond what the audience can comprehend. Pare and Lane have excellent chemistry and Hill is able to pepper the film with some great supporting performances by Rick Moranis, Amy Madigan, and Deborah Von Valkenburgh whose role is small but crucial. “Streets of Fire” is an action hybrid so ahead of its time, it’s a film probably no other director could have tackled with enough competence and it’s filled with great music, great action, and a pulp vibe and energy that’s incomparable.
The new Collector’s Edition features reversible cover art, which the excellent new art for the release, and the original poster art. On Disc 2, there’s “Shotguns & Six Strings: The Making Of A Rock N Roll Fable” a one hundred minute documentary that takes an in depth look at the making of the movie with focus on the crew and less the cast. Pare does make appearances though. There’s focus on various elements of the movie including the script, pre production, casting, the shoot, stunt work, costumes, songs, etc. It’s a great re-visit to the movie and an even better look in to the work it took.
“Rumble On The Lot: Walter Hill’s Streets Of Fire Revisited” is an eighty two minute documentary carried over from a previous release garnering more of the same from the aforementioned documentary, but a lot more focus on the story. There are ten minutes of Vintage Featurettes with short segments on interviews with Walter Hill and the cast, the exaggerated elements of realism, the costumes and so much more. The film was tentatively titled “Rock N Roll Fable” while filming, oddly enough. There are various music videos from the film that fans might love to re-visit, and various original trailers. Finally there are thirteen minutes of on-air promos, and an HD Still Gallery for “Streets of Fire.”